2017 is coming to a close, and unfortunately it didn’t offer up as many highlights when it comes to marijuana as 2016. Last year, we saw three states legalize cannabis recreationally (California, Maine and Massachusetts), and a fourth came up just short (Arizona). This year, the biggest story was that New Jersey elected someone who’s promised to legalize marijuana soon. Not nearly as satisfying.
But as 2017 draws to a close, here are 10 states that could flip-flop on marijuana in 2018:
In 2015, Ohio voter shot down a ballot initiative called “Issue 3” that would’ve legalized marijuana. It was a highly problematic bill, however, that also would’ve allowed 10 companies to control the entire state’s cannabis industry. Nearly 66 percent of people voted against it.
However a new ballot initiative was introduced this week that would legalize marijuana in a much more traditional manner. While the initiative is in its earliest phases and still needs to collect enough signatures to even be considered next fall, it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.
Last month the Maine Governor Paul LePage vetoed a bill that would’ve implemented recreational marijuana in the state. In not so many words, LePage basically said he would never legalize cannabis while in office. So 2018 may see the people of Maine give up the fight to legalize recreational marijuana, at least temporarily. Next November Maine will elect a new governor, so the fight may switch from implementing marijuana legalization to electing a governor who won’t put up a roadblock to it.
8. Washington D.C.
While technically not a state, marijuana is still legal in Washington D.C. Or is it? Unfortunately, that’s a major issue. City officials say it should be legal and allowed to be sold, but Congress has put up major roadblocks and threatened funding to the city if it were allowed. It’s definitely a city to keep an eye on, and see if the feds decide to shut down D.C.’s love affair with marijuana.
7. South Dakota
There have actually been multiple efforts to legalize medical marijuana in South Dakota, but all of them have ended in failure. The most recent was an initiative in 2010 that managed to receive less than 37 percent of the vote. But a lot changes in eight years, and an initiative has already passed a major hurdle towards getting on the ballot in 2018. Perhaps the people have South Dakota have evolved?
Missouri is another state that doesn’t allow either medical nor recreational marijuana. But there are significant efforts to change that. In fact, there are currently seven different ballot initiatives that could be voted on next November dealing with marijuana. Some would legalize it recreationally, some would only do so medically, and some are only about cultivation. Just by the law of averages, one of these has to make it onto the ballot next fall, right?
Polls generally show around 70-75 percent of support in Utah for medical marijuana. And yet the state has made no real efforts to change that. But an initiative is being put together that would make medicinal cannabis a reality. And considering all the polls, it would likely be successful.
In 2016, marijuana advocates attempted to get an initiative to legalize cannabis onto the November ballot. Unfortunately, they didn’t come up with enough signatures to do so. But a new effort to get the issue on the 2018 ballot has already received more than 30 percent more signatures than necessary. But now the hard part comes: Convincing people to actually vote for it.
The state of Oklahoma has resisted legalizing medical marijuana for years. In fact, there’s been hardly any movement or momentum towards achieving it. But an initiative has already been approved for next November that will finally legalize medicinal cannabis in Oklahoma. Maybe the people of Oklahoma will finally drop their guard on the issue.
In 2016, Arizona voters had the chance to legalize recreational marijuana with Proposition 205. Despite significant support, just over 51 percent of people voted against the initiative and recreational cannabis remained illegal.
Arizona’s marijuana advocates are trying again in 2018. They’ve already started collecting signatures for a new initiative, and considering it made it on the ballot last year, it’s hard not to believe it will succeed again. All they need to do is convince 1.5 percent of voters to change their minds, and they’ll have legal cannabis.
1. New Jersey
This one’s a little unfair, because there’s no prediction necessary on this one. New Jersey voters elected Democrat Phil Murphy, who’s promised to legalize marijuana within the first 100 days of taking office. Compared to current governor Chris Christie, who’s made many statements against cannabis, and that’s a definitive change.