State Legislatures Are Making History, But Still Have a Long Way to Go

Guest post by Karen O’Keefe, Director of State Policies at Marijuana Policy Project

Hundreds of cannabis-related bills have been introduced since state legislatures began reconvening in January, making 2018 one of the busiest years ever for marijuana policy in state capitols. It has also been one of the most historic.

Prior to this year, no state had ever legalized marijuana through the legislative process. That changed in January, when the Vermont House of Representatives approved a bill to legalize adult possession and cultivation just hours after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he was rescinding the Cole memo. The Senate followed suit, Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed the bill into law, and less than six months later, on July 1, it took effect.

Despite this pivotal victory, there is still work to be done in Vermont to establish a regulated adult-use marijuana market. Gov. Scott made it clear he would veto any bill that included commercial cultivation and sales if it were sent to him this year, but a commission he appointed in 2017 to study taxing and regulating marijuana will finish its work by the year’s end, setting the stage for a legislative push to create a regulated cannabis industry in 2019.

Vermont is not the only state where we made significant progress toward ending marijuana prohibition this year. Major strides were taken in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, and New Hampshire before their legislatures wrapped for the year. With adequate funding, we are optimistic that we can enact cannabis legalization and regulation laws in all four of these states within the next couple of years.

In Connecticut, four committees held hearings on marijuana regulation bills, including one sponsored by the Senate president, and for the

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