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Top Lawmakers In Two States Optimistic About Marijuana Legalization In 2019



Voters in several states elected new governors who support marijuana legalization last week. Now, top legislative leaders in two of those states—Illinois and New Mexico—say they are optimistic about the chances of getting bills to end cannabis prohibition to the desks of those new state chief executives after they take office next year.

“[M]y guess is if it were to make it to the floor, it would probably pass the House,” Rep. Brian Egolf (D), the speaker of New Mexico’s House of Representatives told the Santa Fe Reporter in an article published on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D) supports Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker’s plans to push for marijuana legalization, which he campaigned heavily on.

Madigan had previously been noncommittal on ending cannabis prohibition, saying earlier this year that he hadn’t “come to a final decision” on where he stood on the issue. His backing will be key to getting a legalization bill to Pritzker to sign.

In New Mexico, the prospect of legalization got a huge boost with the election of ‎Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) as the state’s next governor.

But while Egolf, the speaker, is optimistic about House passage, the state’s Senate has historically been less open to cannabis reform. That said, even some lawmakers in that chamber who personally oppose marijuana use now seem ready to back legalization.

“I don’t want recreational marijuana, but I understand the political reality that it is here,” Sen. Mark Moores (R) told the Santa Fe Reporter. “I want to make sure we have a system that is extremely well-regulated, and the ability to take those revenues and mitigate some of those negative social impacts that marijuana has.”

Senate Majority Floor Leader Peter Wirth (D) is also hopeful about getting a legalization bill to Lujan Grisham in 2019, saying that it would “lead to huge economic development.”

Pritzker and Lujan Grisham are two of more than 20 major party gubernatorial nominees who endorsed marijuana legalization ahead of this month’s midterm elections.

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.


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