If you could travel back in time to the year 2000 and tell people in America that marijuana would be legalized in multiple states by 2020, most of them would have refused to believe you. Back then, the so-called "War on Drugs" was still a focal point of domestic policy, and there was no sign of any legalization legislation on the horizon. Just owning cannabis for personal consumption could be enough to land you with a lengthy prison sentence in most states. Even today, with laws relaxing all the time, the long-questioned policy of mass incarceration means that there are more US citizens in prison for drug possession than all other crimes put together.
Happily, change is in the air, and more liberal policies regarding cannabis possession are being applied all over the country. States, motivated by the tax revenue they're seeing roll into places where cannabis is now legal, are lining up like dominoes to become the next place to take advantage of a legalized cannabis market's economic potential. That's not just great news for cannabis users - it's also great news for those of us who invest in marijuana as an industry. If you're hoping to expand your portfolio in the near future and you're wondering where you might be able to put your money in 2021, here are the states that appear to be next in line to jump aboard the bandwagon.
Of all the states that might be on the verge of giving the 'green' light to marijuana, Arizona is the most surprising. Even gambling is illegal in this notoriously conservative state. Not only are there no Playtech slots, but you could theoretically even be prosecuted for accessing an online slots website. The idea of a state that shuts down online slots websites approving cannabis use seems unlikely, but a potential deal is already on the table. Money is probably the primary motivator here - for all the money that could be made by approving and taxing online slots websites and casinos, there's far more to be made in taxing cannabis. Proposition 207, which will be voted on in November, would permit cannabis use for adults and would also delete the criminal record of anyone carrying a conviction for owning an ounce of marijuana or less. Should the proposition be approved - which seems likely - priority will be given to medical marijuana users when it comes to licensing.
A recent attempt by the Democrats of New Jersey to get marijuana legalized via state legislature fell just short of the required numbers when it was put to the vote a few weeks ago, but that's only delayed the inevitable. The matter will be put to voters in November, and every reliable poll in the state says that voters will back it. Presuming that happens, marijuana will become legal for all residents, no questions asked, so long as they're above the age of 21. Growing and selling cannabis for personal or business purposes would also become legal as of the first day of 2021. Anyone convicted of a cannabis-related offense would be able to apply to have their record expunged via a dedicated website, with a promise that the process will be expedited. New Jersey would become the first of the Mid-Atlantic states to adopt pro-cannabis laws, which would be a further economic advantage for a state that's already benefited more than most from relaxing its rules on gambling.
Like Arizona, Mississippi is a conservative state - but that doesn’t mean that its legislators and voters don’t sometimes express progressive views. There’s nothing in the pipeline when it comes to allowing access to cannabis for everybody in Mississippi, but it appears that the state is ready to license marijuana for medical purposes. This matter will be on the ballot in the state on November 3rd. The specific legislation is known as Initiative 65 and represents the end of a long battle by a pressure group called "Mississippians For Compassionate Care," who've been fighting for this moment for several years. They gathered more than a quarter of a million signatures on a petition, which forced the state's hand. The state would have almost total control over how and where cannabis is grown and distributed, but it's a start.
Right now, the people of South Dakota can't use marijuana for recreational or medical purposes. Very soon, they might be able to do both. Both initiatives have been put forward for a vote, and both will be voted on at the same time. If both are approved, this would be a remarkable turnaround for a state with some of the most punitive marijuana laws in the United States of America. Being caught in possession of even a small amount of cannabis currently attracts a two thousand dollar fine and might also land you in prison for twelve months. As the two campaigns (personal and medical) have worked so closely together, there may be confusion if only one of them is approved, but should both of them get the go-ahead, marijuana will be produced, sold, distributed, and taxed within the state. The means of production would be subject to state control and managed by the South Dakota Department of Revenue.
The people of Montana tend to keep things simple where possible, and they haven't deviated from that philosophy with their approach to legalizing cannabis. Two ballot initiatives were submitted to Montana's Secretary of State in August; one that would authorize the production, taxation, and distribution of cannabis in the state and another that would determine the legal framework of such an arrangement. That includes pricing, maximum personal possession limits, and age restrictions. The Secretary of State has approved both initiatives, and so they're now set to be voted on in November. The public's decision could go either way, but the "New Approach Montana" group that drafted the initiatives is hopeful that they have the numbers they need to make legalization a reality.
If legalization can happen in Arizona and Mississippi, it can happen anywhere. We’re hopeful that even Texas will eventually see the light of day when it comes to the changing of the times, and that the people there will enjoy the benefits of legalized marijuana at some point within the next two years. If cannabis is your business and you’re looking to expand your horizons with new investments and opportunities, it looks like 2021 is going to be your oyster!