Governor Support Pushes Cannabis Legalization Bills Over Finish Line In 2021

Multiple states march towards legalization with political support

There was a definitive trend among the states where adult use legalization bills passed this year: all four had top-down support from their governors. And, in all four of these states, the efforts were years in the making. 

In New York, for example, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Sen. Liz Krueger pushed legalization for nearly a decade. And, while their proposal ultimately passed, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced legalization through his budget plan for three years, including this year

When a legalization push ran out of time in New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham called for the special session during which lawmakers got the legislation over the finish line. 

“Rushing through amendments in the final hours of a session, when there’s a mountain of other very important work to be done, is not the right way to do something of this magnitude,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement ahead of the special session. But, she continued, “we are very close. And we will finish the job.”

It was far from Lujan-Grisham’s first vote of support for legalization. Back in January 2020, Lujan-Grisham urged lawmakers to take up legalization in her State of the State address, saying, “For years now, the legislature has heard and debated recreational cannabis proposals. We’ve watched states come before us, we’ve watched them stumble in some areas, thrive in others, and every year we’ve said, ‘No, not yet, it’s not for us.’ Well, it’s easy to get to ‘no.’ It’s harder to stand up and create something good and new. And we’re ready for that.”  

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