Where Is Cannabis Headed in 2019?


This piece is part of Cannabis Wire’s 2018-in-review package. Read about the cannabis research boom here, how cannabis is going global here, and our top stories of 2018 here.

Lawmakers, advocates, and opponents tell Cannabis Wire reporters what’s on the horizon for cannabis next year.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden:

“More states than ever before have legal cannabis. My home state of Oregon has been a leader in this regard and public support is stronger than ever nationwide. Whether it’s removing barriers to research and banking services or making sure the federal government stays out the way of state progress, there is a real opportunity to move the ball forward. Congress just needs to seize the moment and act.”


Kevin Sabet, founder, Smart Approaches to Marijuana:

“2019 will be the year to see if big tobacco and alcohol totally lock down the entire marijuana market as they have begun to do this year. We will also closely be watching state legislatures to see if we can repeat what happened last year which was about a 90% success rate of defeating state legislative proposals to commercialize marijuana.”


Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer:

“We now have the most pro-cannabis Congress to date and public opinion on cannabis is the highest it’s been. The momentum of this movement has hit its peak and this issue can resonate with almost every member and every committee. We will be poised to take major steps toward reforming our outdated federal marijuana policy starting in January.”


NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer:

“As we move towards creating a legal market that will generate billions of dollars, we have to ensure that we correct historic injustices and backwards policies of the past. From California to Massachusetts, states are taking steps to ensure that the people who have been most harmed by marijuana enforcement are the first – not the last – to benefit from legalization. New York should join in not only legalizing but also developing a cannabis equity program in 2019.”


Michigan’s Attorney General Elect Dana Nessel’s transition team spokesperson Kelly Rossman-McKinney

“The Attorney General-elect believes in a smooth transition of power and authority. Because she will not officially take office until January 1, 2019, she has been working closely with her transition team to ensure a smooth transition and set up an effective Office of the Attorney General so that on Day One we can get right to work for the people of the State of Michigan. She and her team are already meeting with representatives of the cannabis community, law enforcement and local government to understand the opportunities and challenges for Michigan and how to develop the best most fair policies possible given the law.”


Scott Rudder, President New Jersey Cannabusiness Association:

“Cannabis legalization efforts will continue into the New Year. This is certainly frustrating for those looking forward to expanding the medicinal program as well as ending prohibition altogether. The good news is that almost every issue has been worked out and we are now down to a couple of sticking points between the Murphy Administration and legislative leadership.  This should be wrapped up by the end of January if the parties can work out their differences.”


Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz

“I was disappointed the speaker and the rules chairman not only were not supportive they were actively in the way as we tried to get stuff done. The good news is one of the signs that my prediction is going to be correct that we’re going to get stuff done is that (incoming Rules Committee chairman) Jim McGovern has already stated that cannabis amendments are going to be in order in the Rules Committee. We’ve had the votes on the floor for the entire 115th Congress to pass cannabis reform but a few old white dudes at the top were not allowing that vote to occur. They won’t all be back in the 116th.”


Zara Snapp, Latin America Drug Policy Expert

“Mexico really seems to be, fingers crossed, going in the direction of regulating the cannabis market with a social justice focus. One of the things that’s of great concern is how corporatized the industry can become, if we’re not careful. When you take into account the lobbying power of big corporations, of how Aurora immediately swept in to acquire Farmacias Magistrales. Another part that’s alarming is the industry take over in Colombia, how people who were cultivating illegally have been unable to partake in all this money making. Also, with so many right-wing governments — including Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia — we could see an escalation of the war on drugs in the region . . . I expect there to be more legal battles in right-wing governments, as well as bills and initiatives by progressive legislators to generate debate among the greater public.”

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