From the moment it was made federally illegal in 1937, marijuana has been on the back foot in the United States. The tide threatened to turn in the late 1990s when California legalized medicinal cannabis. It was just the boost that pro-marijuana campaigners needed. Fast forward almost quarter of a century, and 33 American states, plus Washington D.C., have legalized medicinal marijuana.
Ten states, plus D.C, now allow marijuana to be used recreationally, with set limits on the maximum legal amount you can possess. While it seems inevitable that a few of the states where medicinal marijuana will eventually make the switch to recreational legality, the picture isn’t as clear-cut in the 17 states where weed is still not legal.
Utah was a surprise addition to the medicinal marijuana party, but which states are most likely to join in 2019? Here are five possible candidates, along with information on their current laws.
1 – Georgia
It may not be top of your list of likely states to legalize medicinal marijuana, but there is a chance it will happen as early as 2019. After thorough research, it was decided that the state would pursue legislation to license cannabis growers, manufacturers, and dispensaries. At present, Georgia law only allows patients to use and possess weed with less than 5% THC. It is also illegal to buy, sell or transport it.
It is also likely that state lawmakers will provide ten manufacturing licenses, ten grow licenses, and a few dispensary licenses to ensure medical weed is available across the state. The current law only allows you access to the low-THC weed if you have one of 16 qualifying medical conditions.
Although the proposal has been challenged by law enforcement, there is every chance that residents of Georgia with qualifying medical conditions will finally be allowed to use medicinal marijuana in 2019.
2 – Idaho
One of the main reasons why Idaho may legalize weed is geography. Neighboring Utah passed a bill to legalize it in 2018, and in Ontario, less than an hour from the state capital, Boise, cannabis is legal recreationally. In fact, it is believed that 80% of Idaho residents live within 90 minutes of legal marijuana!
A 2018 summer poll found that an incredible 79% of state residents are in favor of legalized medicinal cannabis. Believe it or not, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has formally expressed its support! Back in 2013, the state Senate voted never to legalize weed for any reason.
Marijuana probably won’t be legalized in 2019, although a bill is to legalize hemp is likely to be introduced. It is a long road ahead for weed in Idaho, but with such public support, it is inevitably going to be legalized at some stage. However, the state has some of the toughest marijuana punishments in America. Possession of over three ounces is a felony and could result in five years in prison.
3 – Texas
Marijuana laws in Texas are a little confusing. Most people assume it is an illegal substance in the Lone Star State, yet three licensed dispensaries recently opened in the state! Even so, weed use appears to be illegal in Texas; a situation that could change in the near future.
A few Texas lawmakers are planning to make some pro-marijuana noise during the legislative session due to begin in early January 2019. Recently, Senator Jose Menendez of San Antonio filed a measure that would expand the list of qualifying medical conditions under the Compassionate Care Act of 2015.
If passed into law, the bill will enable doctors to treat medical marijuana like any other medicine and eliminate the 0.5% THC cap currently in play. A June 2018 poll showed that only 16% of Texans believe weed should not be legal under any circumstances. Possession of over four ounces is a Class A misdemeanor which could lead to a spell in the county jail. Sale of more than one-quarter of an ounce is a felony.
4 – Wyoming
There have been several failed attempts to change marijuana policy in the Cowboy State. A 2015 bill to reduce penalties for possession of under an ounce failed to get past the house. In 2017, pro-marijuana groups banded together to try and get enough signatures to allow medical marijuana in Wyoming, but they didn’t get enough signatures to get onto the ballot.
Back in 2014, only 37% of voters said weed should be legalized recreationally. In 2018, that number had increased to 49%. More importantly, 86% of voters said medical marijuana should be made legal in Wyoming. Therefore, we have a situation where weed has lots of public support, but not enough supporters in the state legislature. Eventually, the people of Wyoming will have to remove anti-marijuana politicians from positions of power.
Again, Wyoming may not strike in 2019, but weed will eventually be legal as a medicine. At present, possession of up to three ounces of weed could result in a year in prison. A third conviction carries a maximum of five years in jail.
5 – Virginia
Although it is a slow process, marijuana legalization is making inroads in Virginia. There is already a bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts on the table. Indeed, the state has been loosening marijuana restrictions since 2015. At that time, a law was passed whereby patients with intractable epilepsy were allowed to use cannabis oil if they received a prescription from their doctor.
Now, the state has licensed five dispensaries across the state. Companies such as Dalitso, who have secured a large facility in Manassas, can legally cultivate weed, process the raw oil to create CBD oil and THC-A products, and sell to registered patients. By the end of the year, tens of thousands of Virginians will have access to regulated cannabis oil.
At the very least, weed will be decriminalized in Virginia in 2019, and it is a matter of time before it becomes legal as a medicine. At present, marijuana possession could still result in a 30-day prison sentence. Sale of over half an ounce, but below five pounds, is a Class 5 felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
5 States That Could Pass Medical Weed in 2019: Final Thoughts
It may be the case that none of these states legalize medicinal marijuana in 2019, but it is only a matter of time before they follow the other 33 states plus D.C. In most cases, these states have legal weed just minutes away, so it is ludicrous that their politicians continue to follow federal law. Once enough states legalize weed, the pressure will be on the federal government to finally remove its insane prohibition on marijuana.