Why more states could legalize cannabis in 2021

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Actions by states to reduce criminal penalties for marijuana use and possession are fueling momentum for the broader movement to legalize cannabis and have it serve as an economic engine for cash-strapped coffers, industry members and policy experts say.

“I expect a record number of states to legalize marijuana in 2021, in part due to the financial pressures, along with the racial injustice imperative to reduce unnecessary police-civilian interactions,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, the lobbying organization behind many state cannabis policies in place today.

In recent weeks, a spate of US states have sought to relax decades-old drug laws that criminalized cannabis use and possession and disproportionately jailed Black people for non-violent offenses.

Nevada pardoned more than 15,500 people who were convicted of carrying less than an ounce of cannabis. Georgia lawmakers added decriminalization to a police reform bill that faces a challenging path to approval, considering that state’s Republican-controlled General Assembly and that the legislative session ends on June 30, the Savannah Morning News reports. [Read more at CNN Business]