Marijuana policy experts predicted that this year would be a "real game-changer" in terms of cannabis reform at both the state and federal level. But halfway through 2019, the movement has had less progress than hoped.
"The reality is that public policy change rarely works that way. Slow and steady tends to be how change like this happens," John Hudak, deputy director at the Brookings Center for Effective Public Management, told Newsweek.
"There are of course watershed moments, but those are rare. 2019 has not been a watershed moment," Hudak added.
To date, 11 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for adult recreational use. Medical marijuana use for qualifying patients is also legal in 33 states. But cannabis remains illegal under federal law, sharing the same drug classification as heroin, ecstasy and LSD.
In 2018, advocates for legal marijuana saw two more states decriminalize the drug for recreational use and a handful of states (largely located in the Midwest) approve measures allowing for medical marijuana use. Plus, bipartisan cannabis legislation was introduced in Congress for the first time in 2018 through the States Act. President Donald Trump even said he would likely support the bill if it were to pass in the House and Senate.