As of the posting of this article, there are 8 states that have legalized cannabis for adult use. Those, of course, are Colorado, Washington State, Oregon, Alaska, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, and California. Washington D.C. has also legalized cannabis for adult use. Legalization has been an overwhelming success by just about every measure. Hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues are being generated, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created, and none of the doomsday predictions made by cannabis opponents have come true.
As 2017 draws to a close, cannabis advocates are turning their attention to 2018 which is a mid-term election year. A question I see popping up more and more on social media is ‘which state will legalize marijuana next?’ After the historic 2016 election in which 4 states voted to legalize cannabis, 2018 can seem like a bit of a letdown comparatively. Only one state is likely to vote on marijuana legalization (Michigan).
But 2018 is shaping up to be a historic year in its own way. It could be the first year that we see a state legalize marijuana via legislative action. So far every other state has legalized via citizen initiative. And not only may we see one state legalize via legislative action, we could see two. Both New Jersey and Vermont appear to be on track to legalize cannabis in 2018.
Nothing is guaranteed, but with Vermont’s Legislature having already previously passed a legalization bill, and Vermont’s Governor now seemingly ‘comfortable’ with legalizing marijuana, it seems like Vermont is on its way to joining other states that have legalized marijuana. New Jersey’s incoming Governor Phil Murphy not only campaigned on a platform that included marijuana legalization, he stated in his victory speech that he wanted to see legalization happen in New Jersey within 100 days of taking office. That’s very encouraging, even if it’s not guaranteed.
What is also not guaranteed at this point is Michigan’s initiative making the ballot. Signatures still need to be validated, and at least 70% of the 360,000 signatures need to be valid if the initiative is to move forward. A 70% validation rate is definitely not heard of, but it is greater than the 61% validity rate that Oregon had when it’s successful legalization initiative made the ballot in 2014.
Assuming that Michigan makes the ballot, which of the three states would likely be the first to legalize marijuana and therefore become the 9th legal state in America? My money would be on Vermont. That’s because Vermont already came very close to legalizing marijuana via legislative action this year, and therefore already has a base to work from. Legalization in New Jersey is going to require a lot of language drafting, and debate, and who knows what else before a bill reaches Phil Murphy’s desk. I am confident that will happen in 2018, but not as quickly as Vermont.
The vote in Michigan is obviously near the end of 2018, and I think by that time both Vermont and New Jersey will have legalized marijuana via legislative action. Efforts are underway in other states to legalize marijuana, but those efforts are not as far along as in Vermont, New Jersey, and Michigan. What do Weed News readers think? Do you think it will be Vermont, New Jersey, or Michigan? Perhaps none of them? Or a different state entirely?