Article by Amanda Chicago Lewis, Rolling Stone
In 2018, pot reached a tipping point. A clear majority of Americans now wants to see the drug made fully legal. California and Canada began selling marijuana to anyone over 21. Corporate behemoths like Altria (parent company of Marlboro cigarettes) and Constellation Brands (parent of Corona beer and Svedka vodka) made multi-billion dollar weed investments. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) managed to include hemp legalization in the 2018 Farm Bill — de facto legalizing every part of the cannabis plant except THC.
But at the same time, pot prohibition is not over. Well over half a million folks are still arrested for possession every year. Smoking weed or working for a pot company can still threaten your housing, employment, immigration status, finances and freedom. Cannabis business models, regulatory environments and market valuations shift on a daily basis.
What happens in 2019 will undoubtedly affect each of these issues. To better understand where weed is headed in the next 12 months, I called more than a dozen of the most influential and savvy folks in marijuana: CEOs, scientists, political activists, financial analysts and of course, people who have been growing illegally for decades. Here are their predictions for 2019:
First up, the good news. “Within the next two years, a majority of the United States will have adult-use legal cannabis,” predicts Graham Boyd, a longtime bigwig in cannabis political fundraising who now runs the influential, pot-focused New Approach PAC. “And some of that, roughly half of that, could happen through state legislatures.” Though Vermont legalized the possession and use of cannabis through the legislature, all nine of the states that legalized adult-use sales and commercial production have done so via ballot initiative. But in 2019, politicians will finally catch up with their constituents, explains Boyd. States that could potentially legalize through the legislature include New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois. Meanwhile, movements to get a legalization initiative on the ballot in 2020 are underway in states like Arizona and Ohio.