Dec 17, 2018

The next wave of weed legalization

An open side with a neon marijuana leaf

Photo: Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that he plans to work to legalize recreational marijuana next year in the state "once and for all" — the latest in a string of recent policy shifts embracing legalization of the drug.

The big picture: 1o states and D.C. have already legalized recreational marijuana, while it's legal in 33 states and D.C. for medical purposes. One of the biggest arguments state and local government officials have for legalization is the revenue it could bring — in New York, it could bring in more than $1.7 billion annually.

  • Cuomo's reversal on marijuana is notable, as he called it a "gateway drug" publicly as recently as last year.
  • Last week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called for lawmakers to legalize weed in Illinois, one of the states where it remains fully illegal. Emanuel's plan calls for the city's marijuana revenues to be paid back directly into its pensions.
  • Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner plans to introduce an amendment to the bipartisan criminal justice reform bill being discussed in the Senate this week, which would allow cannabis-focused businesses to open bank accounts in states where marijuana has been legalized.
  • In the midterms, three out of four state measures to legalize marijuana either medically or recreationally passed.
  • The farm bill, which passed last week, legalized the commercial production of hemp — a type of cannabis plant conflated with marijuana, though it lacks similar THC levels.

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