Marijuana has long had a bad rap in the eyes of the American public, but this is all changing. The legalization of recreational marijuana has been on the rise in the U.S. The new wave of cannabis consumers includes medical marijuana users who have been in the forefront in the push to legalize the drug.
As many as 29 states have already made use and sale of marijuana possible in one way or the other. Among these, 8 states have made it accessible for adults over the age of 21.
Statistics about marijuana usage have also shown that the American public is quickly redefining its view of the plant. With wildly spreading support for legalization, speculations are rife about which states will follow the move to decriminalize the drug. The fact that the plant rakes in millions in taxes for states that have embraced its medical and recreational use does a lot to increase pressure on jurisdictions that still maintain stiff penalties for possession or use of the plant. Here are some states that are likely to pass laws that will allow usage of the plant in the coming days;
In 2013, after three failed attempts, Arizona residents finally passed Resolution 203, which allowed for the consumption of legal marijuana. It was seen as a major coup, seeing as the state had repeatedly put the issue n the ballot. In 2016, the state marijuana legalization proposal failed, but there is a strong feeling that it is only a matter of time before the homestretch comes calling. At the moment, the state has 122 medical marijuana dispensaries, including Encanto Green Cross in Phoenix.
In November 2016, the residents of Florida overwhelmingly voted for the use of medical marijuana, with 71.3% supporting usage thus making it available for a doctor’s approval. Even though this was a big step in the decriminalization of the plant, recreational users still face tough penalties for possession. The maximum fine for possession of 20g or less stands at $1,000 and a misdemeanor charge which could land you in jail for a year. That being said, the state is known as one that embraces ballot initiatives and this could be the reason marijuana will be legal in
Florida in the coming years.
Marijuana aficionados in the state of Michigan are looking for the 252,523 signatures required for a petition that will validate a proposal to tax marijuana. If such a proposal is successful, it will allow for possession and cultivation of the plant.
In 2008, Michigan residents allowed for medical marijuana usage, which is a good sign for proponents of the plant. Even so, possession currently attracts a fine of $2,000 and a jail term as well. The state has an annual adult usage of 15%.
The state has had ongoing power struggles between proponents and opponents of the plant. In 2004, marijuana was legalized for medical use after a ballot initiative swung in favor of usage. Come 2011 and lawmakers were fighting to place stricter regulations on the applications of the plant. In 2012, Constitutional Initiative 110 could not attract enough signatures to get a ballot initiative rolling. The move failed again just last year.
The state has a 15.1% annual usage for adults. Among various demographics, adults over the age of 26 are more accepting of legalization. However, at the moment, possession will cause you to pay a fine of $500.
Arkansas is known to have adopted a lot of progressive legislation over the years due to ballot initiatives and marijuana legalization might be another one. Residents of the state recently voted in favor of Issue 6, which makes medical marijuana accessible to patients, subject to a doctor’s approval. The fact that the voters favor accessibility of medical marijuana may be a sign that better things lie ahead as a similar vote was defeated in 2012. At the moment, possession of marijuana can attract a year in jail and a fine of $2,500.
Vermont was a state on the brink of marijuana legalization until the Governor dismissed the bill. If passed, the bill would have made marijuana available to adults over the age of 21.The legalization of the plant was stifled with the explanation that more research was needed in order to ascertain what effects it would have on tax revenue and security.
With Vermont having the third highest number of cannabis users in the U.S, it should come as no surprise if the plant was to be legalized soon. Currently, the maximum fine for possession is $200 and possession has been decriminalized.
The current wave of marijuana legalization has solely been through ballot initiatives but states still have more tools at their disposal. The catch is that they will still have to consider legalization in their own legal and cultural context.