What’s Next in Line for Marijuana Legislation Across the U.S.?

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Americans have witnessed substantial changes in marijuana legislation over the last 18 years, since California’s decision to legalize medicinal usage in 1996. But the forward-movement actually began over 40 years ago with Oregon’s decision to decriminalize marijuana in 1973. By 1978, a bevy of states including Alaska, California, Colorado, Mississippi, New York, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Ohio, followed suit by decriminalizing cannabis in some form.

variety of other progressions occurred between 1978 and 2012, when ballot initiatives made Washington and Colorado the first states to officially legalize cannabis for recreational use, a major milestone in marijuana law. Were those votes a sign of things to come, or an anomaly that will likely have little impact on future legislation?

Current Status: Legalized for medicinal use and decriminalized.

What’s Next?:  The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska was formed to support a ballot measure entitled, “An Act to tax and regulate the production, sale, and use of marijuana”.  This would make marijuana legal for adults 21 or older. The full piece can be read here.

In order to qualify, the campaign needed to collect at least 30,169 valid signatures of registered Alaska voters by January, 2014. On January 8, 2014 more than 45,000 signatures were submitted to the lieutenant governor’s office. On February 4, it was confirmed that enough signatures had been verified, placing the initiative on the August 19 primary ballot. Alaska is in line to be the next stay to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Current Status: Legalized for medicinal use.

What’s Next?: Pro-marijuana advocacy group Safer Arizona still hopes for a successful run in 2014, but organizers have been setting their sights on a 2016 initiative due to a lack of funding in the near-term. With backing from the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) for a 2016 campaign, look for Arizona to make a strong push to legalize marijuana in a couple of years.

Current Status: Legalized for medicinal use and decriminalized.

What’s Next?:  In 2014, the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative attempted to qualify for the ballot. Unfortunately, not enough signatures were received in order to make it. Momentum is gaining traction in California though, as 2016 is an election year, which will likely result in a greater pro-marijuana voter turnout. As one of the leading pro-pot states in our union and the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana back in 1996, expect California to find success in 2016.

Current Status: CBD-only legislation passed, whole plant not legal for medical use.

What’s next?: Florida legislators last week passed a “CBD-only” bill allowing for extracted CBD-rich medicine with low levels of THC. The bill’s language specifies that 5 dispensaries throughout the state will be authorized to provide an edible form of medical cannabis. The Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, Amendment 2 will be on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Florida. This voter initiative would allow a broader medical marijuana program, without THC limits or restrictions.

Current Status: Legalized for medicinal use.

What’s Next?: In 2013, a bill to legalize marijuana in Hawaii was killed after not receiving enough votes to pass the House. While there is no initiative ongoing, the ACLU of Hawaii conducted a poll showing that 57% of Hawaiians were in favor of legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana. Numbers never lie, so look for pro-legalization momentum across the U.S. to influence the future of marijuana law in Hawaii for 2016.

Current Status: Legalized for medicinal use and decriminalized.

What’s Next?: In 2013 Portland, Maine voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use in a landslide, claiming 67% of the vote. With that victory, the Marijuana Policy Project has initiated plans to coordinate a legalization measure on the 2016 ballot.

Current Status: Legalized for medicinal use and decriminalized.

What’s Next?: A poll conducted in 2013 by the MPP concluded that 58% of Massachusetts respondents were in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use. That result in conjunction with the efforts from the Bay State Repeal, a new Massachusetts ballot committee, make the Bay State a prime candidate for legalization in 2016.

New York
Current Status: Decriminalized, but not legal for medicinal use.

What’s Next?:  Compassionate Care NY conducted a poll regarding marijuana use for medicinal purposes, which received favorable backing to the tune of 82%. That, combined with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s plans to allow limited use of marijuana by those with serious illness, potentially paving the way for broader medicinal legislation in New York. A proposal to legalize recreational use was also recently introduced, but it is unlikely to pass in 2014, leading lawmakers to aim for 2016.

Current Status: Legalized for medicinal use and decriminalized.

What’s Next?: While Oregon made an unsuccessful push to legalize marijuana in 2012, new high-profile organizations have come out to support a run at legalization in 2014. New Approach Oregon has led the charge seeking new legalization measures. Backers of this measure have already started collecting the 87,213 signatures needed to qualify for the November 2014 ballot. With only one-third of Oregonians opposed to marijuana legalization, things are looking good for marijuana reform in Oregon in 2014 despite nudging from the MPP to put all efforts toward 2016 instead.