While Hillary Clinton may create history in November by becoming the first female president of the U.S., 2016 will also go down in history books as a landmark year for marijuana legalization in the country. Medical marijuana laws first went into effect in California in 1996, and now cannabis legalization has gained an unprecedented momentum. Here we list the next 5 states most likely to legalize marijuana:
Supporters of legalization find Maine to be a promising territory. The state will have marijuana initiative on the November ballot. Poles as latest as May show that most people in Maine favor legalization of recreational marijuana. If legalized, Maine will only issue limited licenses and there will be a 10% excise tax on marijuana produced and sold.
Nevada is expected to be next in line to legalize cannabis. This State already has a notable network of medical marijuana dispensaries. Nevada was added to the ballot in November 2015, and the state campaign to qualify for 2016 was the first one in the country to officially gather the required number of signatures. Different polls also suggest that most Nevadans approve of legalization. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has also expressed his support for marijuana legalization in Nevada.
Unlike Maine, Vermont will aim to legalize cannabis through legislature rather than a ballot initiative. The senate approved the bill for legalization at the start of the year. This is significant because similar bills have been submitted in more than a dozen states, but none has been advanced thus far except in Vermont. However, for legalization, the bill will need support from the Republicans in the House of Representatives. Let’s wait and watch.
Historically, Arkansas has been a hostile territory for cannabis legalization. However, not only did the state campaign managed to bag enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot, but also a recent survey shows that as many as 58% of Arkansans may be in favor of medical marijuana. If the same is repeated on the ballot box, it will be a huge step forward for marijuana legalization in the U.S.
The final state on our list is Arizona. For many, Arizona is a strong candidate for legalization. However, while medical marijuana has been legalized in the state, recreational cannabis is still a matter of contention. Recent polls suggest that supporters and opponents are going neck and neck ahead of the ballot in November.
The Other States Likely to Legalize Marijuana
Florida, Massachusetts, California, and Missouri may also legalize marijuana on the upcoming ballot. If most of these states approve marijuana measures and garner enough public support, it is likely that Congress will legalize the substance in the near future. In states where medical marijuana has been legalized, local governments have managed to boost state education budgets, while patients have been able to avail newer treatments. There are challenges (such as marijuana-related medical emergencies and a notable black market), but the tide seems to be rising in favor of legalization.