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U.S. Governors push for reforms as marijuana legalization talks break down in New Jersey

Governors push for reforms as marijuana legalization talks breakdown in New Jersey

The race to marijuana legalization in the U.S. is truly on and it would seem that there’s no stopping it. From New York to New Mexico, experts are suggesting that marijuana reform policy should be a priority in 2021. It’s not just experts, politicians are also actively pushing to legalize cannabis. For instance, up to 11 Governors have made direct calls for marijuana to be legalized at the federal level this year.

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Meanwhile, after weeks of ongoing negotiations, marijuana legalization talks seem to have stalled in New Jersey. Read on as we explore key details surrounding the joint push for legalization by U.S. governors. We also examine how and why marijuana legalization negotiations between New Jersey’s Governor and Lawmakers broke down.

Governors jointly push for Marijuana legalization and reforms

As the marijuana industry continues to gear up for potential legalization, top policymakers including Governors have joined in the call for cannabis legalization. At least 11 Governors have included marijuana legalization in their addresses, budget plans, or even press briefings.

It’s important to understand that these Governors cannot unilaterally implement the reforms that they’re pushing for. However, their support on this issue will go a long way in pushing lawmakers to create the necessary laws. Here’s what some of these U.S. Governors are saying about marijuana legalization.


As Kansas Lawmakers introduced several marijuana reform bills earlier this month, the Governor, unveiled a plan to legalize marijuana. Governor Laura Kelly announced the legislation during a press conference. She hinted that the resulting tax from the industry would be used to expand the State’s Medicaid. She added that the legislation essentially “establishes the regulatory framework for the cultivation, testing, distribution, prescription and purchase of medical marijuana.”


Governor Andy Beshear of Kentucky has also stated explicitly that his State should pursue cannabis reforms. The Governor made this disclosure during his State of the Commonwealth address. He said, “Speaking of laws that unduly restrict us from growth and innovation, it is time to legalize medical marijuana.” Interestingly, Kansas Lawmakers filed legislation to legalize medical cannabis immediately after the Governor’s address.


The Governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, back in January spoke about legalizing marijuana. Governor Tim Walz spoke about marijuana legalization as a means of boosting economic growth and promoting racial justice. Again, the Governor believes that the potential revenue and tax from legalizing marijuana would be greater than what’s obtainable in the sports betting industry. 

Although the Governor did not include a request to legalize through his budget, top lawmakers in Minnesota already introduced a state-wide legalization bill earlier this month.

New Jersey Lawmakers’ Marijuana Talks Break Down

During the last elections, New Jersey voters approved marijuana legalization via a referendum. In December, Lawmakers sent a pair of marijuana legalization bills to Governor Phil Murphy for implementation. The bills would effectively legitimize sales and decriminalize possession. After weeks of negotiations recently between lawmakers and the Governor of New Jersey, there were signs that the talks had stalled.

Meanwhile, after a week of uncertainty, a New Jersey Senate committee just yesterday approved a marijuana clean-up bill. One of the issues that held up the clean-up bill was the Governor’s request to include stiff penalties for underage possession. The lawmakers had initially opposed this idea. It is currently unclear what concessions were made or whether the penalties were included to have this bill approved.

Closing thoughts

Who would have thought that activists and politicians would one day have something in common with policymakers and governors? Well, that day is finally here. Many Governors continue to speak in support of marijuana legalization. Whether it’s for the potential revenues, the opportunity to fix racial injustice, or other reasons, time will tell. 

It’s also no coincidence that most of these Governors are from the Democratic Party. However, for now, we can only hope that the wind of marijuana legalization continues to blow and perhaps lead to a more comprehensive and fairer federal legislation backing the marijuana industry.

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About Olivia

Olivia, our Oakland-based cannabis guides writer, graduated from the University of California Berkeley with a Bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. She's an independent writer, cannabis enthusiast and Sales Lead at her local dispensary. She's also a recent grad, history buff, and has a passion for animals. You can reach her at [email protected].