Which state will legalize next?
This year while states like California and Massachusetts push their cannabis legalization laws into reality, several other states plan to add cannabis initiatives to the 2018 ballot. In fact, 11 states will be letting voters weigh in on more lenient medicinal marijuana or legalization regulations, while two more plan to take legal measures prior to voting takes place. So which states could turn green for cannabis legalization next?
Vermont is slated to be the next state to legalize cannabis and it could happen as soon as a matter of weeks - no signatures or ballot initiatives required. Yep, the state lawmakers are ready to sign a legalization bill into law by the end of the month. Meaning if plans go accordingly, the state would become the first state to end cannabis prohibition by lawmakers rather than ballot measures approved by voters.
New state Governor Phil Murphy campaigned on cannabis legalization last year and now that he has taken office he appears to be fast-tracking a bill to keep his word. With plans to sign a recreational cannabis bill into law by the first 100 days of office, Murphy prepares to make New Jersey the largest recreational market on the East Coast. At least until other East Coast states follow suit that is, Massachusetts will push it's already passed law into effect in July 2018, while campaigns for legalization are still being considered in states including Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The state made the cannabis industry headlines earlier this year when Northern Michigan University became the first accredited university to offer a degree in cannabis and medicinal plant studies. Now it seems the state is on forefront of legalization, as organizers submitted 360,000 registered voter signatures in November. That is over 100,000 more signatures than needed to qualify the measure to be on the 2018 ballot.
While the rest of the states mentioned may not have recreational cannabis legalization on the horizon, the hopeful initiatives hitting the ballots will enact looser medicinal marijuana rules, decrease penalties for procession and even decriminalization in some states.
There are currently multiple organizations working towards getting enough signatures to get the Missouri Marijuana Legalization Initiative on the ballot. Many of which look to be positive. If the initiative does appear on the 2018 ballot, it would remove marijuana from the state’s list of controlled substances and it would no longer be listed on Missouri’s drug schedules.
The state secured enough signatures to put the Oklahoma State Question 788, the Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative on the 2018 back in 2016. But due to an ongoing court battle which was only recently resolved the measure will not appear on the ballot until this year.
The newly elected state Governor Ralph Northam also pushed cannabis as a centerpiece of his political campaign last year. Though unlike New Jersey Governor, decriminalization was the name of the game, not recreation. Northam pledged to file for decriminalization in early 2018, even though the state of Virginia seems to have bipartisan support on the subject.