The Next States to Legalize Marijuana

The Next States to Legalize Marijuana

DENVER, CO — After last weekend’s International Drug Reform Conference in Denver, a clear picture is emerging of which states are likely to be the first to follow Colorado and Washington down the path of marijuana legalization. And while some recent polls suggest the American public is getting ahead of even the leading marijuana reform honchos, well-laid plans already in place point to the possibility of a 2014 trifecta, with Oregon following Alaska to legalization through the initiative process and Rhode Island becoming the first state to legalize through the legislature.

While activists in a number of other states — including Arizona, California, and Wyoming — are already working on legalization initiatives for next year, reform leaders cautioned that 2016 remains a better prospect. But they also acknowledged that recent favorable shifts in public opinion, most notably last week’s Gallup poll showing an historic 58% in favor of legalization, could accelerate matters.

“We’ve been saying wait for 2016, but we seem to be changing our minds, at least a little,” said Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) executive director (and key funding conduit) Ethan Nadelmann.

“I keep getting surprised,” agreed Graham Boyd, counsel to Progressive Insurance founder Peter Lewis (and key funding conduit). “Activists in any number of states are saying they can win now, and we’re hearing this from multiple states, and polls in multiple states are also coming in much more favorable.”

While groups like DPA and the Marijuana Policy Project (another key funding conduit) have a game plan for the next few years that largely emphasizes 2016 for initiative states, the movement needs to be flexible enough to take advantage of emerging opportunities, Boyd warned.

“The main thing is growing public support. I think you can look at the list of 2016 states and argue that any of them could go in 2014,” he said. “If the public is ready in 2014 and something happens before 2016 and that lift tails off, we may find ourselves saying we missed the wave.”

Among those initiative states where the plan had been to wait for 2016 are Arizona, California, Maine, and Montana. In Arizona, a signature gathering campaign for 2014 is underway, but appears to be running up against the clock, while in California, two separate initiatives have been filed for 2014, but so far lack the access to big money required to actually make the ballot.

Major marijuana reform players in California led by the ACLU of California also recently attempted to set the stage for a 2016 initiative (and perhaps smother the 2014 efforts, some activists feel) with the formation of a blue ribbon panel to study policy issues around marijuana regulation, taxation and legalization. The panel would study and deliberate for the next two years, meaning their recommendations would not be ready by 2014.

“We put together a panel of experts headed up by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the highest-ranking official to come out in support of taxing and regulating marijuana,” explained ACLU of California criminal justice and drug policy director Allen Hopper. “We tried to bring together a group of experts who right now may not advocate for legalization — including doctors, an elected sheriff, and the California Society of Addiction Medicine — to begin to tackle some of the policy issues that need to be resolved in California. We haven’t asked people to write ballot language, but we have a range of folks who can talk to their communities. We support legalizing, but in terms of how we talk about it and how a ballot initiative campaign would be run, you have to meet the people where they are.”

While even the reform movement leaders concede that things could move faster than they think, the three surest bets for a legalization effort next year are Alaska, Oregon, and Rhode Island.

In Alaska, a tax and regulate marijuana initiative that would also allow adults to grow up to six plants has been certified and is now in the signature-gathering process. Proponents have until next June to gather 30,169 valid voter signatures to qualify for the ballot.

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  • guest

    Nice pipe dream, but then you all ran out of pot, sobered up, and realized that MJ has already been re-banned everywhere in Colorado except Aspen, often with much higher penalties than existed before prop 64. You know that in the Denver-metro area if anyone sees your pot, smells pot, you admit to them to have ever used pot, or you use pot on any public or ANY PRIVATE property (even if you are the owner), it is a thousand-dollar fine and a year in jail mandatory. Or, as NORML and MPP would put it, “WE GOT LEGAL YEAH!” dur yeah it just like alcohol now, if you are caught with it you go to jail!

    • Guest

      That’s just false

    • Mike

      You apparently didn’t read all the news here just today or you’d know how wrong you are.

      And yeah, people are on their guard about prohibition-lite. The one thing you’re right about is the fight ain’t over…and you’re still losing.

      • guest

        Sorry buddy, your side is going down. In twenty years it will be legal everywhere and assholes like you will all be in the grave. Why not start with tobacco and alcohol? Oh right, because you’re being bribed by those people. Prohibition still doesn’t work “Mike,” and if it did, stopping minorities from drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco would be a lot smarter then worrying about the non-whites smoking MJ. Go to Hell KKK.

        • Mike

          I’ll take you next question when you’re done answering the voices in your head…

          • guest

            So you call 58% support for ending prohibition loosing? Read the writing on the wall, asshole. It’s time for you to find a new job, raping pot-heads on the public dole is going out of style.

    • arkarian

      this is nonsense. first of all, it’s legal to possess and consume in private *anywhere* in colorado. that’s in the state’s consitution. some cities have banned the sale of it, but there are still plenty where it will be allowed in 2014—namely denver.

      • guest

        Oh, are you white? well then, be my guest. You can steal a billion dollars, just give back 30% (fine), you can shoot an unarmed black child (self-defense still counts if you stalk, someone and start a fight, again, if you are white), so of course you think you can get away with possession. You all could get away with it before it was legal, I never heard of a white person getting in trouble for weed. So nothing has changed at all, congratulations. Now possession is charged as “breaching the peace,” “resisting arrest,” and “sales”. Of course if you are caught with a joint and twenty dollars cash you are gonna walk, not the non-whites though. Cash (any cash, even if you do not possess any drugs), is seized as drug money and the minorities are sent on their way. You people don’t care because you’re a bunch of starch-shirted college kids who are completely disconnected from the real world. Or you’re stupid ignorant morons who can’t even watch the news from time to time. Denver is specifically banned, actually, asshole. Not on private property, not on public. Have trouble understanding?

        • purp

          haha honestly, it doesnt matter if its legal or not , because im always going too have access to my beloved MJ. i live on my college campus and smoke everyday in my room. hahaha i love my life

          • guest

            Exactly my point. That’s why the guillotine is the only hope for this country. We the people will surround all the tall buildings, all the colleges, and all the gated communities, and then we will cut off your heads. haha love that BRO. Kiss your frat-bros goodbye.

    • eduardo73

      Lie much?

      • guest

        Inject seawater into your cranium much, Mr Ed? If you’re not being deceptive with your hispanic name, why don’t you give it a shot? Walk up to a cop an announce that you are in possession of a small amount of cannabis. After your bullet-ridden, blood soaked corpse washes up in the sewer system, you may have some idea of why “legal” for whites doesn’t mean jack shit for us. Remember cops work for the cartels. Anyone who buys legal is going to be a target for drug lords and their DEA and local cop allies to murder and seize their property. Keep on sticking your fingers in your ears and closing your eyes, but if I were you I’d be real careful following the law as a non white in this cuntry.

    • dashboard dirito

      Nice try Detective. (Dick)