A record high 64% of Americans support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, according to a 2017 Gallup Poll. Support for legalization is rooted in changing perceptions of the drug’s potential harm, as well as the prospect of hundreds of millions of dollars in marijuana sales and excise tax revenue for state governments.
The growing acceptance of marijuana among Americans has also been reflected in the ballot box. Currently, eight states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana. Pro-pot initiatives passed in eight of the nine states in which they made it to the ballot in November 2016. Voters in Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota approved or expanded medical marijuana laws in their states. In Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and California, voters approved recreational pot. Only Arizona’s push for full legalization failed.
> Possession decriminalized: Yes
> Amount decriminalized: Less than 100 g.
> Max. fine for less than 100 g.: $150
> Annual adult usage: 12.0% (21st lowest)
Ohio’s attempt to legalize recreational marijuana in 2015 faltered, though the problem may not have been pot itself. Some voters were concerned the ballot initiative would have created an oligopoly, limiting pot profits to just a handful of companies sponsoring the legislation. Even the prominent pro-pot advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project did not endorse the bill. However, since voters can change state law via ballot initiatives, Ohio could be poised for another shot at legalization.
Ohio is in the midst of implementing its medical marijuana program. Currently, recreational users in the state caught with any amount less than 100 grams only face a $150 fine and no jail time.
All four states that legalized recreational marijuana in 2016 made 24/7 Wall St.’s list of the next states to legalize pot that same year.
Despite widespread acceptance of the drug, only about 21% of the U.S. population live in states or districts that have legalized recreational pot. In all likelihood, the share will only grow in the coming years.
Though every state to legalize pot so far has done so through ballot initiatives, going forward, states have a variety of options for making pot legal. Predicting which states will be next to legalize requires weighing a range of legal circumstances and cultural conditions. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed marijuana usage rates, existing marijuana laws, and legislative processes in each state to identify the states most likely to legalize pot next.