Prior to the 2016 Election, marijuana activists constantly pointed out that if marijuana won big on November 8th, it would increase the momentum for marijuana reform across the country significantly. As the dust settled, the list of states that have voted to legalize recreational marijuana doubled on November 8th. As it stands now, California, Nevada, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, and Colorado have legalized recreational marijuana (and D.C.!). The amount of people that live in a state that have legalized recreational marijuana now stands at over 21%.
California’s victory arguably did the most to increase the momentum of legalization nationwide. However, Maine and Massachusetts are incredibly significant too, as they are the first two states on the East Coast to legalize. The victories there are already having a dramatic effect on the region. Today the Star-Ledger Editorial Board came out with an endorsement for legalization of recreational marijuana in New Jersey. Per the editorial:
Yes, there must be tight regulations and an oversight force. Yes, there should be an intelligent tax plan and provisions for home-growing and employment protection. Yes, public consumption and driving under the influence must be met harshly.
But diverting money from criminal syndicates to companies that will check IDs and work under government inspection is a budget bonanza. And New Jersey is in no position to leave tax revenue on the table, or human capital in jail.
The winds of change appear to be picking up in Connecticut as well. Connecticut Governor Malloy, long opposed to recreational marijuana, sounds like he is opening up to the idea now that there are two states in his region that have legalized recreational marijuana. Per Hartford Courant:
After Massachusetts voters approved a ballot question legalizing the sale and use of recreational marijuana, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he may have to re-examine his own views on the matter.
“I have never been an advocate of that,” Malloy said Wednesday. “On the other hand, of course, when multiple states move in a direction you have to re-examine your own personal thoughts on the issue. I’m just like anybody else.”
As it stands, no state has legalized recreational marijuana via legislative action. One prediction that I am willing to offer up is that I expect at least one state legislature to legalize recreational marijuana in 2017. Will New Jersey or Connecticut be the one? Only time will tell!