Cannabis is the new gambling. Just like states started dipping their toes in the gambling pool 30 years ago with a casino here and a casino there, once the others saw the money coming in, they began getting on board. A recurring theme that we are going to see in 2021 from states across the country is looking outside the box for tax revenues for an economic boost and cannabis is that answer.
New York is going to bust out of its COVID slump in the year 2021 and get back to the business of cannabis, especially when it sees the kind of money that it is losing out to its neighbors in Massachusetts and now New Jersey. With the beating the economy has been taking from the virus, they are going to be looking to any means to bring money back into the state and Governor Cuomo will finally back the plan instead of his past half-hearted campaign promises.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has gotten on the cannabis bandwagon and put together a commission to explore what it would take for the Commonwealth to get a cannabis program up and running in the state. He is definitely feeling the pressure from legal cannabis in Washington, D.C., and the medical program in Maryland, which is also making noise of going adult use.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has said repeatedly that her state needs the revenue to combat the budget shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. And this has not been the first step that the state has taken towards full legalization. Adult use legalization bills have passed through Senate committees and failed in others, but lawmakers are seeing that cannabis may be the boost to their economy that they so desperately need.
Kentucky, home to a vigorous hemp industry is looking to take up medical cannabis this coming year. It had passed the House last year, but died in the Senate, just like many cannabis bills do on the federal level. However, this time around, the governor is backing it and 9 out of 10 Kentuckians support legalizing medical cannabis. The tricky part around this legislation is two-fold. They want to tax it, so they can generate revenue for the state, but medical cannabis is usually not taxed. And to get the bill through it will have to be taken up during their very short 30-day legislative session which has already started. Lawmakers are going to have to thread the needle on the taxation portion if they want to see it pass.
Wild Card Pick: Wisconsin is starting to see their neighbors, Illinois, and Michigan, reap the benefits of cannabis sales and like many other states, they could use the revenue. Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, approved the consumption of cannabis in small amounts and the Dane County District Attorney has said that he is not going to prosecute the small amount offenders. Locally they are taking baby steps, but this is a state that is not going to want to be the last to the dance in the fly over states.