Federal and State Cannabis Legalization Predictions

Incremental US Legalization

Sorry, no federal cannabis legalization in 2019. It’s going to take 30+ adult-use states for federal legalization, which will feel like a foregone conclusion when it finally arrives. But Congress will allow more states to chart their own course next year. The medical cannabis shield law Rohrabacher-Farr will be renewed, and maybe expanded to cover the Treasury Department (which will allow expanded banking services), not just the Department of Justice. A Rohrabacher-Farr-type shield bill—most likely some version of the States Act—for adult use will be seriously debated, but fail to pass either chamber.

Re-Scheduling Shenanigans

Cannabis the plant will remain a federally illegal Schedule 1 substance, deemed as dangerous as heroin, while THC the molecule derived from whole plant cannabis could be down-scheduled like dronabinol (synthetic THC), which is already in Schedule 3.

East Coast Catchup

New Jersey will legalize via the state legislature. New York will consider legalization, but the bill will get hung up on the fears of a powerful Democratic committee member, and not pass in 2019.

Windy City Blows Smoke

Illinois will advance new reforms but fall short of full legalization. Machine politics will block a solution this year. The mucky mucks have to fight over the pie another year before they eat it.

Razing Arizona

Arizona legalization advocates will fight over two separate ballot measures. Neither will make the ballot.

New Research Farms

The first new federally licensed research cannabis farms beyond the one in Mississippi will be granted licenses.

Cannabis Criminal Justice Predictions

Border Crisis and New Clarity

A high-profile border case will force the United States and Canada to amend their antiquated and harmful cannabis border policies.

More Trafficking Blame-Shifting

More US Attorneys will try to score political points by holding individual states responsible for inter-state marijuana trafficking in the US. Legal cannabis industry officials and regulators will team up to quash the illicit market like never before.

Equity’s Time Has Come

We’ll see the advanced spread of equity programs to new legalization statesas well as beyond the cannabis sector. New York politicians will take the lead on this, and influence others (New Jersey) to do the same.

Cannabis Business Predictions

More Corporate Giants Enter

More alcohol and tobacco multi-national corporations will buy stakes in cannabis companies using Canadian companies as a global investment vehicle.

Conglomerates Gonna Conglomerate

Stores like MedMen and Have a Heart will expand into newly legal states and capture bigger shares of new licenses, either directly or through acquisitions and/or licensing/management arrangements. The consolidation has just begun.

More Censorship

Expect increasing restrictions on advertising in legal states. Both conservatives and progressives love throttling cannabis free speech, for different reasons. Conservatives dislike cannabis commerce, while progressives never met a nanny state regulation they didn’t like.


The world’s biggest cannabis city, Los Angeles, will continue to be a mess from a regulatory standpoint.

Technocracy Fail

In the world’s biggest cannabis state, California, track-and-trace will be delayed and plagued with problems, creating only the appearance of a traceable system.

Florida, Man

The massive legal medical cannabis state of Florida will emerge as a medical marijuana “superstate,” thanks to its population and industry rules.

Cannabis Science Predictions

More CBD Use

The FDA-approved CBD tincture Epidiolex will be used off-label in new studies that verify CBD-derived whole plant botanical efficacy for Parkinson’s and other conditions.

Drugged Driving Breakthrough

New breath, blood, and saliva plus simulator studies will hone in on drugged driving limits for the first time.

Compiled by the Leafly News Team Bruce Barcott, Ben Adlin, and David Downs.