The last week of March will go down as one of the most momentous ones for marijuana legalization in the U.S.
And that could be just the start. On March 31, cash-strapped New York State signed a bill legalizing recreational cannabis. With the stroke of a pen, New York became the 15th U.S. state to legalize recreational marijuana. Just hours later, New Mexico voted to do the same.
If passed, New Mexico’s Cannabis Regulation Act would make it legal for adults over 21 years of age to consume cannabis. It would also eliminate criminal penalties for possession and it would tax the sales from licensed sellers.
The passing of New Mexico’s bill is a mere formality. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a tweet, “This is a significant victory for New Mexico and my signing pen is ready.” (Source: “Twitter Post,” Michelle Lujan Grisham, March 31, 2021.)
Legal pot sales in New Mexico are expected to start in 2022. That would make New Mexico the 16th U.S. state to legalize recreational pot.
More states are set to follow.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has asked his state’s legislature to speed up the process of legalizing cannabis, allowing Virginians to legally spark up as early as July 1. (Source: “Northan Proposes Legalizing Marijuana in Virginia on July 1,” The Washington Post, March 31, 2021.)
Northam’s request was a little unexpected, since Virginia wasn’t supposed to legalize pot until early 2024.
The passing of Virginia’s bill is expected to be swift, with House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn saying she and other House leaders are more than happy to speed up the date for legal possession.
Technically, Virginia would be the 17th state to pass such legislation, but if all goes according to plan, Virginia will beat New York to the punch when it comes to enacting cannabis legalization.
Senate Majority Leader to Move Ahead on Pot Legalization Even Without Biden
With more states legalizing recreational marijuana, Americans might be wondering when Washington is going to do the same at the federal level.
President Joe Biden might be firing staffers for their past marijuana use (not Vice President Harris, though), but that doesn’t mean Congress won’t try to push through a bill that legalizes weed.
In the run-up to the November 2020 election, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said, “I am fervently committed to getting [marijuana legalization] done.” (Source: “‘Vote Democrat to Legalize It,’ Sen. Chuck Schumer tells Leafly,” Leafly, September 14, 2020.)
With the Democrats in charge of Washington, Schumer has been making strides to put together federal marijuana reform legislation with Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden.
President Biden has, in the past, expressed opposition to cannabis legalization, and he has been relatively silent on the issue since entering the White House. Schumer, however, said he doesn’t care about that and will take an aggressive approach to loosening federal restrictions on marijuana.
“I want to make my arguments to him, as many other advocates will,” said Schumer. “But at some point we’re going to move forward, period.” (Source: “Schumer: Senate Will Act on Marijuana Legalization With or Without Biden,” Politico, April 3, 2021.)
Schumer said concerns about the negative impacts of legalizing recreational cannabis have been overblown.
“The legalization of states worked out remarkably well,” said Schumer. “They were a great success. The parade of horribles never came about, and people got more freedom.” (Source: Ibid.)
Not only that, a growing number of Americans, 68%, want marijuana to become legal at the federal level.
The “Green Wave” was felt during last November’s election. Five states that had pot legalization initiatives on their ballots saw those initiatives succeed.
Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey voted to legalize recreational pot; Mississippi voted to legalize medical marijuana; and South Dakota approved measures for both medical and recreational marijuana.
“When a state like South Dakota votes by referendum to legalize, you know something is out there,” said Schumer. (Source: Ibid.)
Cannabis was one of the biggest winners during the November 2020 election, and it looks like 2021 could be even more monumental.
New York, New Mexico, and Virginia are lining up to legalize recreational cannabis. A raft of other states could also legalize marijuana in 2021, including Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and even Texas.
The U.S. president might be thought of as the most powerful person on the planet, but it looks more and more like cannabis will become legal at the federal level, with or without Biden’s input.
Not only that, Mexico recently passed a bill to legalize cannabis. That means the U.S. is now sandwiched between the two largest nations with legal pot sales.
Many marijuana stocks have done well since the November 2020 election. But that’s just the beginning. With more states legalizing weed and pressure mounting for Washington to legalize pot at the federal level, pot stocks are setting up to be some of the most compelling long-term investment opportunities out there.