WASHINGTON, DC — Following landmark victories in Colorado and Washington on November 6, many people are asking, “What states will be next to enact measures to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol?”
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), one of the nation’s largest marijuana reform organizations which has been instrumental in passing medical marijuana, decriminalization, and marijuana legalization bills in several states nationwide, has announced the next seven states that they plan perusing marijuana legalization.
Topping the list is Alaska, where MPP hopes to capitalize on the nation’s strongest level of voter support with a tax and regulate ballot initiative in 2014. Presently, possession of up to a quarter pound of cannabis in your home in Alaska, while not legal, carries no criminal penalty or fine. Alaska legalized the use of medical marijuana in 1998.
Up next is Rhode Island, where MPP lobbyists hope to follow up on successful bills passed in the state legislature that legalized medical marijuana in 2009, and decriminalized possession of marijuana in 2012. MPP insiders say they are hopeful that following the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado this year, the Rhode Island legislature will enact a tax and regulate bill in 2013. If the legislature fails to do so, look for a ballot initiative in 2o14.
In Maine, like Rhode Island, lobbyists will push for a legislative approved tax and regulate marijuana legalization bill in 2013. Should the legislature fail to pass marijuana legalization on their own, MPP plans to introduce local tax and regulate initiatives in 2014, leading up to a potential statewide ballot measure to legalize adult use of cannabis in Maine in 2016. Maine voters, like most of their New England neighbors, are favorable to marijuana reform. Maine overwhelmingly legalized medicinal marijuana in 1999, with 61 percent voting in favor in the early days of the modern marijuana reform movement.
Also in New England is Massachusetts, where voters have long supported marijuana law reform. MPP and local reform organizations hope to follow up their successful 2008 marijuana decriminalization campaign, which voters approved with a 65% majority, and the 2012 medical marijuana campaign, where 63% of voters approved the Bay State becoming the nation’s 18th medical marijuana state, with a 2016 tax and regulate for adult use campaign. If legalization campaigns in Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island are successful, the Northeast will have a strong anchor of legalized marijuana use, which could see many other states along the Eastern seaboard follow suit.
Back on the West Coast, activists in Oregon will be working closely with MPP lobbyists to pass a tax and regulate measure through the state legislature in 2013, continuing the momentum from Measure 80, which narrowly failed on November 6. The underfunded and little known legalization bill surprised activists and reformists with a strong showing at the polls, but was narrowly defeated 46-54%. Reformists will work with the state legislature to pass a similar bill through the state legislature in coming months, while building up to a potential – and better funded – ballot initiative in 2016 if needed.
Marijuana legalization on the West Coast would’t be complete without California, who’s successful 1996 Proposition 215 campaign sparked new life into the marijuana reform movement. Since California legalized medical marijuana, 17 other states and the District of Columbia have followed suit. Marijuana reform in California was set back with the failure of 2010′s Proposition 19, which was opposed by many in the medical marijuana industry. MPP plans on working closely with reform organizations statewide to build momentum and support for a planned legalization initiative for the 2016 ballot.
Finally, MPP hopes to bring legalized marijuana to Sin City and the rest of Nevada with a tax and regulate campaign slated for 2016. This follows up on successful campaigns to legalize medical marijuana in 2000, and decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis in 2006.
As the New Year begins, 2013 and beyond appears to be the dawn of a new era of the end of marijuana prohibition.