WASHINGTON, DC (CIRCA) — In 2018, four states approved recreational cannabis use, the California market opened for business and hemp was decriminalized on a national level. In 2019, a handful of additional states could legalize recreational-use marijuana, according to expert John Hudak of The Brookings Institute.
Hudak, author of "Marijuana: A Short History," explained to Circa what developments we could expect to see in cannabis in 2019, including some on a national scale.
Five states could see big pushes legalize cannabis for recreational use. Hudak said there are chances for New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware to join the green wave.
Congress may wade into cannabis issues as well.
"With Democrats taking over the House of Representatives, you’re going to see a lot more movement on cannabis-related legislation including committee hearings and likely bill markups and eventually votes on the House floor," Hudak said.
He also pointed to banking issues as cannabis-related issues legislators could wade into.
"Whether you love cannabis reform or you hate it, the reality is that banking restrictions as they are don’t only hold back the industry, they actually facilitate money laundering," Hudak said. "So bills like the Safe Banking Act are more likely to see the light of day, and they’re likely to get support around them."
Hudak also warned that it's important to keep an eye on marijuana-friendly states that have new incoming governors. But he only sees one state where rules could potentially be at threat of being rolled back.
"It looks like one state where rollbacks might happen or disruption might happen is Alaska," Hudak said. "The cooling-off period after the passage of a ballot initiative is about to happen in Alaska, the legislature became more Republican in Alaska, and an independent governor is being replaced by a much more conservative Republican governor. So that’s a state where there might be some types of disruption."