Which States Will Legalize Recreational Cannabis In 2016?

Which States Will Legalize in 2016-


With four states already having legalized recreational marijuana, Nevada may become the fifth. Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska have already legalized marijuana within the past couple of years and it appears that more states are gearing up to follow their example and take advantage of the mass medical and recreational marijuana industry booming in Colorado.

Nevada lawmakers are the first to officially put marijuana legalization on the 2016 election ballot. “Voters will have the opportunity to end marijuana prohibition next year and replace it with a policy that actually makes sense,” Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), said in a statement. “Law enforcement officials will be able to spend their time addressing more serious crimes, and adults will no longer be punished simply for using marijuana.”

Aside from Nevada, four other states are also contemplating marijuana reform for the 2016 election.


Groups like the Drug Policy Alliance and MPP are already hard at work for the 2016 elections. The main issues that divide voters are home-growing and the limits on marijuana production for both recreational users and medical marijuana businesses. “California was the first state to adopt a medical marijuana law and it inspired states around the country to adopt similar laws,” Tvert says. “It’s a state that carries a lot of weight nationwide. It’s a massive population center and it’s a very diverse state.” Since conservatives have overpowered liberals in the past on pot ballot initiatives, a movement towards legalization in California will send the message that legalization appeals to both parties.


Conservatives are slowly moving towards the notion that legalizing marijuana is the way to go. Although Arizona is not as liberal as mountain states and West Coast states, a new poll (http://beltway.bsgco.com/content/marijuana) shows that 48% of Republicans support national legalization, while 71% of democrats do. 61% of Americans as a whole support the legalization movement. Young voters are more likely to turn out for the presidential elections of 2016, which is a good sign since 6 out of 10 young Republicans want to make cannabis legal.


Libertarian blood runs deep in Maine. With Ron Paul winning the majority in Maine and Mitt Romney hailing from Connecticut, which is right next door, many thought that marijuana policies wouldn’t move forward. Two cities in Maine are proving them wrong. Portland, Maine’s largest city, and South Portland voted to make possession of small amounts of marijuana legal, although state and local law still prohibits it. Portland was the first city on the east coast to pass such a law back in 2013.

In last year’s elections, Lewiston, Maine voted against a similar measure. Although it did not pass, Tvert says that the fact that the state has legalization on it’s mind makes for a better case for legalization. “There’s been an ongoing public dialogue,” he says. “I’ve always believed that the more people learn about marijuana and the fact that it’s not as dangerous as they’ve been led to believe, the more likely they are to support treating it that way.”


In 2008, voters decriminalized marijuana with over 60% of the vote. In 2012, voters legalized medical marijuana, again with over 60% of the vote. Last year, over a dozen districts indicated support for legalization by supporting non-binding ballot measures, while the state legislature has already heard testimony on a bill for legalization.

Although voters have marijuana fresh on their minds, it won’t be easy to legalize cannabis. Organizations are willing to spend immense sums of money and garner signatures to petition the bills. Some lawmakers are also skeptical that voters will legalize recreational marijuana, after just having started the medical marijuana market. A Democratic lawmaker told the Boston Globe that “I’m not sure people in the state are ready for that and I’m certainly not sure I’m ready for that.”

Tvert sums up the situation perfectly. “In any state we’re up against 80 years of marijuana prohibition and efforts to demonize marijuana,” Tvert says. “Our goal remains the same and that’s to educate voters.”

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Sourced from: http://time.com/3748075/marijuana-legalization-2016/

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