Legalization news: the latest headlines from the U.S.

Here’s a quick look at some new developments on the cannabis-legalization front from across the United States

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Here’s a quick look at some new developments on the cannabis-legalization front from across the United States.

Biden says science matters

Joe Biden might know a lot of cannabis users, but that hasn’t convinced him to change his stance on legalization. In a radio interview on May 22, the presumptive Democractic presidential nominee was asked to explain the difference between decriminalization, which he supports, and legalization, which he opposes. Instead of doing that, Biden told The Breakfast Club host Charlamagne tha God that he won’t support legalization until all the facts are in on the long-term effects of cannabis on users’ brains.

“Because they’re trying to find out whether or not there is any impact on the use of marijuana—not in leading you to other drugs, but does it affect long-term development of the brain? And we should wait until the studies are done. I think science matters,” the former vice-president said.

“I think we got decades and decades and studies from actual weed smokers, though,” Charlamagne responded.

“Yeah, I do. I know a lot of weed smokers,” Biden said.

Presumably, Biden just doesn’t know the right kind of weed smokers.

Meet Virginia

On May 21, Virginia governor Ralph Northam signed a pair of bills to decriminalize cannabis possession in the state. Under current laws, simple possession is punishable by a maximum $500 fine, up to 30 days in jail, and a criminal record. When the new legislation takes effect on July 1, possessing up to one ounce of cannabis will be punishable by a $25 fine with no threat of jail time and no criminal record.

In a New York minute

During a coronavirus-update briefing on May 22, New York governor Andrew Cuomo was asked why the state has not legalized cannabis as a way of funding economic relief instead of relying on federal money.

While arguing that providing financial relief to state and local governments is, in fact, the federal government’s obligation, Cuomo reiterated his support for cannabis reform.

“I support legalization of marijuana passage,” he said. “I’ve worked very hard to pass it. I believe we will, but we didn’t get it done this last session because it’s a complicated issue and it has to be done in a comprehensive way.”

Cuomo has included legalization in his budget for two years in a row, but the state legislature has yet to pass a cannabis-legalization bill.

Could pot save New Mexico?

New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has said that, if lawmakers had voted to legalize recreational cannabis during this year’s regular session—as she had urged them to do—the state would be in a better place financially.

During a live-streamed update on coronoavirus-response efforts last week, Lujan Grisham said that legalization would have brought a projected US$100 million of recurring revenue into the budget, which could have saved various capital projects that have been cancelled due to the pandemic.

“If we want economic support and economic relief, then we have to use every economic idea,” she stated. “And I want to point out also that the vast majority of New Mexicans favour recreational cannabis.”

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