The “Get Healthy, Get High” trend for 2019 is growing strong across the globe, ensuring that this will be the year that legalized marijuana for both recreational and medical use will break into the mainstream in the U.S. and many other countries.
As we forecast in December: “In 2019, the legalization of marijuana in many states and the new federal Farm Bill that will legalize hemp will open the floodgates of explosive growth for both the marijuana and hemp industries that, because of their recreational, industrial and medicinal qualities, will be much bigger than booze when prohibition ended in 1933.”
Marijuana did very well in 2018 by reforming antiquated marijuana laws and, in the U.S., racking up victories in the November midterms.
Further, the 2018 Farm Bill, legalizing hemp cultivation in all 50 states, passed the House of Representatives in a 386-47 vote. The parallel hemp industry is now positioned to experience explosive growth, exceeding $22 billion by 2020.
Already an $800 million industry, hemp products range from apparel, food, health and well-being remedies to building materials. Moreover, in its many configurations, the natural fiber will be recognized as a replacement for a wide range of synthetic materials, including plastics.
Ten states and the District of Columbia now have legalized marijuana for adult recreational use and 33 allow medical use. And some nine more are expected to legalize marijuana this year.
On the global stage, last October, Canada became the latest country to legalize recreational marijuana, joining Uruguay, Spain and the Netherlands where recreational pot is legal.
Marijuana is already legal for medical use in Australia, Puerto Rico, Poland, Croatia and Macedonia. And in Turkey, citizens are allowed to grow marijuana for personal medical use.
Further, while in most countries cannabis is still illegal, a significant number will not prosecute for personal use. For example, in Columbia and Chile, cannabis is not legal but decriminalized in most forms. Both Jamaica and the Czech Republic have rapidly developing cannabis tourism industries and are moving forward with decriminalization and eventually legalization. In Columbia and Portugal, there is strong support for full legalization.
Fulfilling a campaign promise, French President Macron has eliminated mandatory prison sentences for small amounts of cannabis. The U.K. legalized medical cannabis late last year following other EU members Malta, Luxembourg, Greece and Denmark who passed laws in 2018 to allow medical use and decriminalized some possession and cultivation by citizens.
And recently, Mexico’s incoming government submitted a bill to allow medical marijuana and recreational use. The bill would also permit companies to grow and sell marijuana, allow possession of up to 30 grams, and cultivation for private use. Smoking pot in public places would also be permitted.
In fact, the global legal pot industry is expected to reach $146 billion by end of 2025, according to Grand View Research, Inc., and the explosion in expected revenue will create a booming job market. In the U.S. alone, the industry is expected to create 250,000 jobs, according to the research firm New Frontier Data.
Job opportunities will cover a wide spectrum, including technology, product development, customer service, health care management and more. Zip Recruiter estimates that job growth stemming from both legal recreational and medical marijuana will outpace growth in the hottest job sectors, including health care and technology.
BACK IN THE USA, MORE STATES EYE LEGAL POT
Already in 2019, the number of states freeing marijuana for adult recreational and medical usage is on track to grow significantly based on the numerous pro-marijuana gubernatorial candidates on the ballot that won in the mid-terms. With the substantial revenue for states via taxes on marijuana sales, state legislatures are likely to be supportive as well.
Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, sums up the potential for broader legalization across the country in the year ahead:
“2019 could be a banner year for legalization via state legislatures. Several states across multiple regions of the country are strongly considering ending prohibition and regulating marijuana for adult use… The steady growth of public support we’ve been seeing around the country will likely translate into some major state-level victories for marijuana policy reform.”
For example, in Connecticut during his campaign, Democratic Governor-Elect Ned Lamont stated repeatedly that cannabis legalization is “an idea whose time has come,” calling it one of his top initial priorities for his first year in office.
Connecticut state Senate President Martin Looney sponsored a bill last year that went nowhere because of opposition from then Governor Dannel Malloy. Looney says that marijuana legalization is “a significant revenue item for the state.”
With many who have opposed legalization no longer in the Connecticut legislature, the current Republican deputy minority leader says he “would think it would pass.”
A study from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and the University of Illinois reported that legalizing marijuana would not only create 24,000 jobs throughout the state but would generate over $500 million in tax revenue and inject over $1 billion into the state economy by 2020.
Legalizing cannabis was a major part of incoming Illinois Governor Jay Pritzker’s campaign right from the start of the primaries. He even held a press conference at a medical marijuana dispensary. He beat Incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who opposed legalization. Pritzker has promised to push for legalization “right away.”
Incoming Minnesota Democratic Governor Tim Walz is replacing the former Democratic governor who opposed legalization. Walz campaigned to “replace the current failed policy with one that creates tax revenue, grows jobs, builds opportunities for Minnesotans.” He will get help from the newly elected Democratic House majority.
New Hampshire does not have a governor who supports legalization. Republican Governor Chris Sununu signed a bill to decriminalize cannabis possession in 2017 but says he is unwilling to go further and will veto any legislation “regardless of what the language looks like.” Democrats, however, took over the house and senate in the midterms and the house speaker believes he has enough support to override the veto.
Despite disagreeing on many of the specifics, including tax rates and the regulatory structure, New Jersey lawmakers are moving forward with a bipartisan bill legalizing marijuana to put on the governor’s desk this year.
The midterms were good news for marijuana in New Mexico with the election of Michele Grisham as the state’s next governor, who supported legalization when she was a member of Congress. During the campaign she said legalization will bring, “hundreds of millions of dollars into New Mexico’s economy.” The state’s speaker of the House said it would probably pass.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has changed his tune over the last few years from labeling marijuana a “gateway drug” to saying the time is right to “legalize recreational use once and for all.”
He had the New York State Department of Health take a hard look at legalization. The report said, “positive effects” of ending cannabis prohibition “outweigh the potential negative impacts.” The midterms also helped the cause. It gave Democrats the state Senate which had been controlled by the Republicans who had roadblocked legalization.
Rhode Island’s Governor, Gina Raimondo has been tentative about legalization as has House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello. But both recognize the pressure from legalization in surrounding states make it inevitable and the revenue is too significant to pass up. Republican House Minority leader is all in.
The Vermont legislature passed a bill legalizing possession and home cultivation in 2018. That law does not allow commercial production and sale which means the state does not generate any tax revenue. The Democratic-led legislature is likely to send a bill legalizing commercial sales to Governor Phil Scott this year.
Other states to watch in 2019 are: Kansas, whose neighbors Missouri and Oklahoma have legalized medical use; Wisconsin where Gov. Tony Evers says he wants to decriminalize marijuana and allow medical cannabis; Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), who says that he’s ready to take a serious look at the issue; Texas, which re-elected Gov. Greg Abbott who indicated that he is open to some form of marijuana decriminalization.
Looking ahead to 2020, states like Arizona, Florida, Ohio and North Dakota could start to move forward. TJ
Besides not locking up people and ruining their lives for getting high on what is clearly not proven to be a “gateway drug,” the many health benefits of marijuana are now being recognized both scientifically and by those who believe if the planet can feed us, it can heal us.
Thus, we expect medical marijuana legalization to grow especially fast, while recreational pot becomes more commonly accepted in states across the U.S. and in other countries that have been to reluctant to legalize pot, because they are seeing that the revenue and jobs development benefits are increasingly becoming not only appealing, but essential.