Our great country is in a unique position when it comes to cannabis. It’s reached a tipping point that’s finally fully in favor of moving cannabis initiatives ahead. In 2016, seven of the eight marijuana initiatives on the ballot passed with flying colors.
Sixty-four percent of Americans are now in favor of legalization, but only 22% live in legal states. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia all have some sort of progressive pot laws and initiatives are building for the next round of legalizations.
The cool thing is, state options have opened up. Though ballot initiatives are a fine way to legalize it, state officials can pass legislation that legalizes it “immediately.”
24/7 Wall Street reviewed marijuana usage rates, existing marijuana laws, and legislative processes in each state to identify the states most likely to legalize pot next. Here are the results:
Though the people of Arizona voted down a legalization effort last cycle, they are likely to follow in California’s footsteps and legalize the second time around. Approval continues to grow and Arizona already has medical marijuana laws.
Because they are a ballot initiative state, they have a greater chance of legalizing. Voters recently approved medical marijuana by 53.2 percent. There are still hurdles like the fact that only 11.3 percent of adults said they’ve used cannabis in the last year.
As the country goes, so goes Connecticut in this case. Acceptance of cannabis has grown quickly over the years. Plus, their 2012 initiative to have medical cannabis won, but was strengthened in 2016. Since then, lawmakers included plans to tax and regulate in the 2017 budget proposal.
This could perhaps be the next state to legalize and the first to do so without a ballot initiative. A Bill to tax and regulate is set for consideration by state legislature by January 2018.
Currently, though they do have a robust medical program, recreational users face high fines and penalties. However, as a ballot initiative state and with the numbers that came in for medical usage, there is a great chance that they’ll legalize sooner than later.
Illinois is at the ready for legalization. With a Bill in consideration for adults 21 and over to possess, cultivate and purchase cannabis, they are on their way to tax revenues with excise and sales taxes adding up to an estimated $699 million.
With a whopping 64 percent of residents in favor of legalizing cannabis, the math does itself in Maryland. Plus, they already have medical and decrim laws.
Pot proponents are already gathering signatures for the November 2018 ballot initiative to tax and regulate cannabis like alcohol. In 2008 Michigan legalized medical cannabis for a range of conditions, also through a ballot initiative.
Without ballot initiatives, this could be a tougher nut to crack. And though the current governor does not approve of legalization, he is not running again in 2018 and most democratic gubernatorial candidates have expressed their support of cannabis legalization.
Since voters first approved medical use in 2004, it’s been a rocky road for both medical and legal tries in Montana. However, in 2016 voters finally approved a law that loosened up the medical program. Perhaps legalization has a new shot?
Having decriminalized possession of up to three quarters of an ounce in 2017, New Hampshire is on the fast track to taxing and regulating cannabis. Sixty-eight percent of residents approve legalizing it.
New York already has a medical marijuana program that recently added PTSD to its approved conditions. Plus, decriminalization of less than two grams short of an ounce is already progressive. It’s believed that if neighboring Massachusetts does well with their legalization that New York will follow in their footsteps.
Though the 2015 ballot measure that failed was riddled with controversy, because it is a ballot initiative state, the chances that a new, better initiative will rise to the surface and be passed are very likely.
In the process of drafting a Bill for personal use, Rhode Island is hoping to introduce the Bill during the first legislative session of 2018. High usage stats in the state also point to a favorable outcome.
They are already on their way to passing a Bill to legalize, however the Governor wants more time for tweaks in language and with some further study into cannabis’ effects.