Even with all the rhetoric coming out of the new administration, cannabis legalization almost seems inevitable at this point. The success of major ballot initiatives in states like California, Colorado, Oregon, and Maine have proven that legalization is popular in many states across the nation if people are actually given the choice to decide. In fact, recent polling shows that a large majority of Americans agree with at least medical legalization, and half of citizens believe it should be completely legal.
The process of legalization continues in the United States, and several states have major legalization efforts underway in the next few years. Here are a few states that look poised to plunge into the world of recreational pot.
This one will probably come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Vermont. In fact, it’s a wonder the state hasn’t legalized recreational marijuana. Last year, Bernie Sanders ran his presidential campaign partly on the issue of legalizing pot—and it looks like his home state is set to follow him into the future.
While the Vermont legislature was set to legalize recreational marijuana at the end of 2016, the measure failed because of a few skittish state representatives who didn’t want to be blamed for rising rates of opioid addiction. However, the victory of legalization in nearby Massachusetts and Maine have shifted legislator’s opinion on the issue. Vermont could have completely legal marijuana by early 2018, in their next session of Congress.
Rhode Island is another state hoping to piggyback off the success of initiatives in the rest of New England, and the time seems right for their politicians to take action.
Recent public opinion polling has revealed that over 2/3rds of Rhode Islanders support recreational marijuana legalization, which kind of makes sense considering the state is known for its high consumption of pot. The dominant Democratic political establishment in the state has stated that it is completely on board with legalization, at least in principle. Time will tell if this momentum translates into legislative success, but bet on Rhode Island to legalize it sometime very soon.
Medical marijuana is technically legal in Delaware, however, the state government has taken actions to restrict its use severely since the associated law passed in 2012. However, these strict regulations on its sale have annoyed many residents of the state who believe the executive branch of the state has gone too far in making it unnecessarily difficult to acquire cannabis. In fact, similar to Rhode Island, about 61% of Delaware residents support full legalization, a number which puts pressure on legislators to act quickly in determining marijuana’s legal status. Even the Republican candidate for governor last year came out in support of recreational legalization, an indicator of broad, bipartisan support that will likely result in legal pot by at least the end of 2018.
Michigan is a much larger state than the previous three, and more conservative too. However, that doesn’t mean legalization isn’t around the corner.
Michigan is known for a libertarian tradition in its politics, as evidenced by the state’s contribution of several liberty-leaning members of Congress. Congressman Justin Amash from Michigan is one of the nation’s leading advocates of marijuana legalization in the government and one of very few members of the Republican Party to take such a bold stance on the issue.
While a couple of initiatives to legalize pot have fallen short in the past, some politicians are looking to seize upon the positive climate for legalization to supercharge the state’s economy after recovering from its recent economic troubles. Several pro-legalization groups are already active in creating a ballot measure for 2018, which seems poised to succeed as a majority in the state support recreational pot already.
This one probably WILL come as a surprise for those who have been to Missouri. While the state is fairly conservative in many areas, there is also a strong emphasis on maintaining individual freedoms in the state’s government.
Several prominent politicians have come out in support of legalization in the “Show Me State”, including Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, who made a name for himself in a very close Senate election last year. While it might be unlikely that Missouri will legalize pot anytime soon, the state has some of the most active pro-marijuana activists in the country, and legalization will definitely be on the ballot come 2018. Whether or not voters approve is another matter, but it’s worth noting that, as it stands, clear majorities support legalization in any form in Missouri.
So to the bellwether of the nation, we wish you luck—if pot has a chance in Missouri, then it has a chance anywhere, and everywhere.