While many states pondered adult-use cannabis legalization this year, only Illinois found success with its Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA), which passed the...

While many states pondered adult-use cannabis legalization this year, only Illinois found success with its Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA), which passed the state legislature and earned the governor’s approval this past summer. With 2020 rapidly approaching, many states with failed 2019 legalization efforts may try again, while others have announced plans to put forth their first attempts at policy reform.

Here, we’ve rounded up the states to watch next year.


After a ballot initiative failed by a razor-thin 3-percent margin in 2016, Arizona appears ready to try again with a new proposal for the 2020 ballot.

The new initiative, called the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, was filed with the state in August and is backed by the Arizona Dispensaries Association, according to a Phoenix New Times report. The proposal legalizes cannabis for adults 21 and older and allows home cultivation of up to six plants per adult, with a maximum of 12 plants per home.

Supporters need to gather at least 237,645 signatures by July 2, 2020 in order to qualify the measure for the 2020 ballot.

In September, a new cannabis industry group announced its opposition to the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, and plans to work with the state legislature to bring a competing proposal to the 2020 ballot, the Phoenix New Times reported.


The Drug Policy Education Group submitted a proposed constitutional amendment in July that would allow Arkansas’ licensed medical cannabis dispensaries to sell to an adult-use market. Two more groups are also collecting signatures for competing constitutional amendments, according to The Motley Fool.


The Sunshine State has at least two active efforts to place adult-use cannabis initiatives on the 2020 ballot.

Make It Legal Florida gathered roughly 390,000 signed petitions as of mid-November, prompting a judicial review of the group’s constitutional amendment language. The initiative would allow the state’s licensed medical cannabis dispensaries to serve a broader adult-use market.

Regulate Florida continues to gather signatures ahead of a Feb. 1, 2020 deadline for a constitutional amendment that would broadly legalize adult-use cannabis in the state.

New Jersey

New Jersey lawmakers introduced a resolution in November that would kick the issue of adult-use legalization over to voters in the 2020 election. Gov. Phil Murphy campaigned on legalization and lawmakers fought this year to pass an adult-use legalization bill, but efforts stalled in the Senate over the summer.

South Dakota

Advocacy groups submitted petitions to qualify two cannabis policy reform ballot initiatives for the 2020 election—one that would legalize medical cannabis, and another that would legalize adult-use.

The adult-use effort is supported by South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, which submitted over 50,000 signatures in early November for a constitutional ballot initiative that would legalize, regulate and tax cannabis for adults 21 and older. The proposal would also call on the legislature to enact laws to regulate the cultivation, processing and sale of hemp in the state.

The South Dakota Secretary of State is now working to verify the signatures.


Two Democratic state senators introduced a sprawling adult-use legalization bill in October that focuses on small business development and social equity. The legislation followed Gov. Tom Wolf’s late-September press conference where he urged the legislature to take up policy reform.

Rep. David Delloso also took a stab at adult-use legislation in early October, when he introduced a legalization bill that would distribute products to adults 21 and older through state-run retailers.

Wolf was also part of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Cannabis Regulation and Vaping Summit in October, where the two joined governors from New Jersey and Connecticut to discuss a regional approach to cannabis policy reform.

New Mexico

A governor-appointed work group of 22 policy leaders from across New Mexico finished drafting its recommendations for an adult-use cannabis program in October and submitted the report to elected officials.

Legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis advanced this year, but ultimately stalled in the Senate.


MontanaCan submitted the Marijuana Regulation Act, or Ballot Issue No. 5, to the secretary of state this summer, but it remains to be seen whether voters will see a unified effort or competing initiatives next November.

MontanaCan’s proposal would legalize adult-use cannabis and establish the state’s duties in regulating and taxing the industry.

New York

New York also saw a legalization bill die in the legislature this year, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems willing to try again. Cuomo hosted the Regional Cannabis Regulation and Vaping Summit in October, where he and the governors of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut discussed a coordinated effort to legalize and regulate cannabis in their respective states.

North Dakota

Legalize ND released a new version of an adult-use ballot initiative in July after the group’s 2018 ballot measure was defeated. The new proposal places limits on cannabis possession, bans home grow and establishes a 10-percent excise tax on cannabis sold at dispensaries.


Del. Steve Heretick announced plans in September to file a cannabis legalization bill in 2020 after his first attempt stalled in the legislature this year.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced his support for adult-use legalization in June, vowing to work with state leaders to take steps toward policy reform.

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