Emerging Cannabis Markets to Watch in 2020

Emerging Cannabis Markets to Watch in 2020

Although the federal government keeps dragging its heels, more and more states keep legalizing cannabis. When recreational cannabis sales started in Illinois on January 1, 2020, the state’s lieutenant governor, Juliana Stratton, bought a can of popular microdose gummies from a dispensary.

On January 1, Illinois became the 11th state to sell recreational marijuana. The new year may bring even more opportunities to entrepreneurs that want to enter the legal cannabis market.

Interested parties should keep their eyes on the following six markets.


Vermont’s state government has already made significant moves toward legalizing cannabis sales. In 2018, Vermont passed laws making it legal for adults 21 and over to possess and grow cannabis.

In 2019, the Vermont House and Senate even started the process of approving marijuana sales. Unfortunately, the House went on break in May, leaving the final steps unfinished.

Pro-legalization advocates believe that the state will pick up the cause in 2020 to finalize sales. Of course, there is some opposition. The majority of the state’s citizens and legislators side with legalization, though, so there are good signs that Vermont will become the next state open to cannabis retail businesses.

New York

New York is an interesting state with a sharp divide between the opinions of people living in the urban south and those living in the more rural north.

The divide has frustrated pro-legalization activists in New York City for well over a decade.

With Andrew Cuomo as New York’s governor, the rest of the state may finally get the push it needs to catch up. Cuomo says that he plans to make legalization a priority for 2020. Part of his plan includes initiatives that should appease cautious legislators in Albany. For example, Cuomo wants to:

  • Create an Office of Cannabis Management that would regulate sales of medicinal and recreational cannabis.
  • Fund a hemp and cannabis research facility at the State University of New York (SUNY).
  • Work with neighboring states to prevent illegal, cross-border sales.

New York couldn’t get the job done in 2019, but 2020 brings new hope to cannabis entrepreneurs.


Advocates in Arizona have been trying to legalize medicinal cannabis since the mid-1990s. Each attempt brings the state closer to legalization. Many people believe that 2020 will bring medicinal and recreational sales to the state.

In 1996, 65% of Arizona voters supported a ballot initiative that would let doctors prescribe cannabis. When legislators removed the prescription option, Arizonians voted against the initiative.

Voter support went down from there. In 2002, voters did not support medical cannabis. In 2010, 50.1% of voters supported medical marijuana. The law, however, included several limiting provisions that made it ineffective for many of the state’s residents.

A big push for recreational cannabis came in 2016, but the ballot initiative failed when only 48.7% of voters supported it.

Why would anything change in 2020? Mostly because it took monumental amounts of money for politicians and certain companies to change voters’ minds. There are some signs that no one wants to make such a financial commitment in 2020, which could mean that voters finally get the access they’ve asked for several times over the last few decades.

Also, another ballot initiative will appear in 2020. Although, there is some opposition.


Florida already has medicinal marijuana, which is great considering that the state struggles with one of the country’s highest overdose rates. Many people find that access to cannabis can curb cravings for opioids.

Evolving from medical to recreational cannabis takes a lot of political will, though. At the beginning of 2020, it looks like the state lacks enough signatures to get a voter initiative on the November ballot. Advocacy groups have until February 1 to get the signatures they need.

In other words, Florida has a fighting chance. If full legalization doesn’t happen this year, then the state has, at the very least, taken one more step to recreational cannabis.

New Jersey

Depending on which news source you pay attention to, recreational cannabis will “absolutely pass in 2020” or it “has absolutely no chance of passing in 2020.”

Both perspectives involve a lot of wishful thinking.

Here are the facts:

  • New Jersey has failed to pass recreational cannabis laws in the past.
  • Lawmakers have agreed to put recreational cannabis on the 2020 ballot.
  • The state government doesn’t have to abide by the voice of the voters.
  • Governor Phil Murphy supports full legalization.

There’s a good chance that New Jersey will soon get legal cannabis. 2020 is a good time for businesses to start exploring their options. Realistically, though, the state probably can’t have its laws in place until 2021.

New Mexico

New Mexico probably seems like a long-shot to most people who don’t know much about the state, which has a reputation for conservative thought. The reality is that New Mexico has a diverse, somewhat unpredictable citizenry that lean conservative on some issues and liberal on others. Not that cannabis legalization is necessarily a right or left issue, of course.

The good news for cannabis entrepreneurs is that recently-elected Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has put legalization on her list of accomplishments for 2020. Her list also includes crime prevention, college tuition assistance, and importing prescription drugs from countries with lower prices.

Hopefully, cannabis legalization will not become a bargaining chip that gets sacrificed for the governor’s other priorities.

Recreational cannabis failed last year, but lawmakers have made changes to their approach. The majority of New Mexico residents say they support legalization. Now, it’s up to the legislature to make a decision.

No one knows how state laws will evolve. Cannabis businesses need to pay close attention to these six states, though. They could represent excellent opportunities for growth.

January 12, 2020Comments Off

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