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These States Are Most Likely To Legalize Pot Next

Posted by on Aug. 31, 2013 at 12:34 AM
  • 8 Replies

Attorney General Eric Holder gave a green light on Thursday to two states whose efforts to legalize marijuana had been locked in by legal uncertainty for more than nine months. With that announcement, Colorado and Washington -- both of which passed pro-pot initiatives at the polls last November -- can now proceed with establishing a framework for the taxation and regulation of legal weed for adults.

The administration's decision holds clear and immediate implications for the two states, both of which had been hesitant to act too quickly over concerns that the government might decide to enforce federal law, which still considers marijuana an illegal substance.

But the move also, and perhaps more importantly, throws open the gates for other states to pursue similar pot legalization efforts, so long as they include "strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems." Experts on both sides of the issue have already said they expect to see movement come quickly.

A similar pattern held for medical marijuana. The movement made steady progress up until 2009, when the Obama administration announced it would allow states to implement medical pot laws without federal interference. That promise turned out to be heavily footnoted, but the pledge itself ushered in a flood of ballot and legislative activity that burst the medical marijuana dam over the next four years. Thursday's announcement can be expected to do the same.

Public support for legal pot has surged in recent years at both state and nationallevels, with a majority of U.S. voters now in favor. This suggests that legalization would be most viable in states that allow citizen ballot initiatives. State lawmakers could also potentially take the reins on legalizing cannabis as the issue becomes more mainstream, however, like they did in New Jersey in 2010 with the passage of a bill approving medical marijuana.

Political dynamics are at play, too. Democratic strategists hoping to goose youth- and liberal-voter turnout in 2014 are incentivized to put pot on the ballot, though weed advocates themselves are better off running campaigns during presidential years, when the electorate doesn't skew as elderly as it does during midterms.

Below, the states that are most likely to take the next steps toward legalizing marijuana:


Marijuana reformers in Alaska have been hard at work trying to make their state the next to legalize pot. In June, a ballot measure to tax and regulate pot and legalize it for adult recreational use was certified. Organizers must now collect at least 30,169 valid signatures of registered Alaska voters by December 2013, which would ensure that the initiative receives a vote in the primary election on Aug. 19, 2014.

Pot has already been decriminalized and legalized for medical use in Alaska. A survey of Alaska voters taken earlier this year by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling found that 54 percent supported legalizing marijuana.


In June, marijuana legalization proponents began a campaign to gather the 259,213 signatures they'll need in order to get the issue on the 2014 ballot. The language of the proposed measure is rather expansive, and also includes a system of state taxation and regulation.

Marijuana was legalized in the state for medical use in 2010 by ballot initiative. A poll taken earlier this year found that 56 percent of Arizonans supported legalizing some amount of cannabis.


A statewide initiative to legalize marijuana failed in California in 2010, but reformers are hoping to find success in 2014 and beyond. Earlier this month, organizers filed the California Hemp Act 2014, a measure that would legalize cannabis both in its standard and non-psychoactive forms. Beginning Oct. 1, the campaign will have 150 days to gather 750,000 valid signatures from California voters in order to get the issue on the 2014 ballot.

Marijuana has already been decriminalized and legalized for medical use in California. A poll taken earlier this year found that 54 percent of Californians support legalizing pot.


Marijuana advocates in Nevada have yet to mount a large-scale effort to get legalization on the ballot in an upcoming election, as most organizers in the state see 2016 as their best chance for a push. The liberal bent of the state makes it a popular target for reformers, however, and it's not yet clear whether Thursday's DOJ decision could increase desire for more immediate action.

Nevada has legalized medical marijuana, and earlier this year the state passed a measure establishing a dispensary system to help increase access for sick citizens. According to a recent poll, 56 percent of Nevadans would favor legalizing cannabis for recreational use if the money raised went to fund education.


Medical marijuana legalization advocates in Oregon have already announced plans to campaign for an initiative to be placed on the ballot in 2014. An earlier legalization effort, which was poorly coordinated and widely mocked inside the state, failed in 2012. Organizers believe there is plenty of room for improvement.

Oregon has already decriminalized marijuana and legalized it for medical use. According to a poll taken in May, 57 percent of likely voters in Oregon support a proposal to tax, regulate and legalize marijuana for recreational use.


The Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-pot advocacy group, has announced Maine as one of its top targets for legalization in upcoming election cycles. An initiative circulating through the state Legislature fell painfully short in a state House vote earlier this year, but MPP has announced plans to help coordinate a grassroots campaign to get a legalization measure on the ballot in 2016.

Marijuana has been decriminalized and approved for medical use in Maine. According to a PPP poll released this week, 48 percent of registered voters in Maine believe pot should be legal for recreational use.


The deep-blue New England state is being eyed as a prime opportunity for legalization, with marijuana reform advocates pointing to high margins of support for previous pro-pot initiatives. No official campaign for a ballot initiative has been launched yet, though many predict it is only a matter of time.

Massachusetts has decriminalized marijuana and just last November passed a ballot measure legalizing it for medical use. A February PPP poll found that 58 percent of the state's residents would be in favor of legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis.


Montana has had a checkered history with marijuana laws. Voters passed an initiative legalizing cannabis for medical use in 2004, but opponents have since taken various steps to amend the measure or repeal it all together. Reform advocates remain hopeful that voters will support full legalization. They wasted no time following the 2012 election, filing a ballot question in hopes of putting the issue before voters in 2014.

There are no recent statewide surveys to gauge current support for pot legalization, though previous polls have showed a majority of Montana voters supporting the decriminalizing of marijuana.

Rhode Island

Marijuana advocates have high hopes that Rhode Island will be one of the first in the next round of states to legalize. This could come through a ballot initiative, but Rob Kampia, the executive director of MPP, recently said the issue could be ripe for state lawmakers to take on. While there's not yet a high-profile campaign to get legalization on an upcoming ballot, the state Legislature did consider a bill on the matter last session. While lawmakers debated the legislation and invited witnesses to testify on its merits, they never held a vote.

Rhode Island recently decriminalized marijuana and passed legalized medical marijuana around 2007. A PPP poll taken in January found that 52 percent of voters in the state support legalizing pot for recreational use.


Vermont has made strides to scale back marijuana prohibition over the past year, with a successful measure to decriminalize and a separate bill to establish a system of dispensaries for the state's medical cannabis patients. Observers see the state's strong support for the recent reelection of Gov. Peter Shumlin (D), an advocate for marijuana reform, as a sign that voters could get behind a ballot initiative to legalize. There is no large-scale effort toward this end yet, but a legalization bill was introduced in the state Legislature last session. It didn't receive a vote.

Polls have consistently shown Vermonters to be supportive of efforts to scale back prohibition on marijuana.


by on Aug. 31, 2013 at 12:34 AM
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by Bronze Member on Aug. 31, 2013 at 12:42 AM
3 moms liked this

WooHoo let's have party ....so we can ignore the treason going on in the White House right now. You also want to forget that Bubble...who needs money? Who needs their retirement savings? College? Nah, don't worry, no jobs to specialize for anyway unless you plan on moving to China.

by on Aug. 31, 2013 at 6:12 AM

It has already been decriminalized here in Vermont.  I am surprised that Colorado and Washington beat us on that one.

by New Member on Aug. 31, 2013 at 6:19 AM
I was hoping to see Minnesota up there, I have awful migraines and don't do well with strong pain killers. I've heard marijuana can be good for those.
by Silver Member on Sep. 2, 2013 at 9:26 AM
Come on Pa. There are so many medical benefits to marijuana.
by Member on Sep. 2, 2013 at 2:36 PM

 Come on Florida!!!!!!  

by Amanda on Sep. 2, 2013 at 4:37 PM
Missouri NORML has been working hard. Hope it's decriminalized here soon.
by Jenney on Sep. 2, 2013 at 11:18 PM

Anyone notice what's going on in Colorado?  Pot is legalized, but people are looking for harder stuff. 

Bad ‘Spice’ A Problem In The Denver Metro Area « CBS Denver


by Jenney on Sep. 2, 2013 at 11:23 PM

Why legalize mj?  Some asshat trippy Kids apparently want harder stuff.  So, what's next? 

A Syracuse grad and a Rhode Island co-ed died after popping ecstasy pills at the wild Electric Zoo music fest — prompting officials to shut down the megaparty, which drew 100,000 ravers to Randall’s Island over the weekend.

“I just took six hits of Molly,’’ tragic 20-year-old Olivia Rotondo told an EMS worker on Saturday, referring to the drug’s street name — before suddenly collapsing in a seizure and dying.

Organizers abruptly canceled yesterday’s revelry just hours before it was scheduled to begin, under pressure from the city.

The deaths of Rotondo, a University of New Hampshire junior from North Providence, RI, and Jeffrey Russ, a 23-year-old Syracuse University graduate from Rochester, took place during a weekend of mayhem that included:

PARTY OVER: Rave-goers crowd the stage at the Electric Zoo bash at Randall’s Island over the weekend (above) before its cancellation after drug deaths and multiple arrests.
PARTY OVER: Rave-goers crowd the stage at the Electric Zoo bash at Randall’s Island over the weekend (above) before its cancellation after drug deaths and multiple arrests.
DEADLY DOSES: Olivia Rotondo, 20, told EMTs she was on six hits of ecstasy at the Electric Zoo music fest on Randall’s Island before her death yesterday. Jeffrey Russ (above), 23, also OD’d.
DEADLY DOSES: Olivia Rotondo, 20, told EMTs she was on six hits of ecstasy at the Electric Zoo music fest on Randall’s Island before her death yesterday. Jeffrey Russ (above), 23, also OD’d.
DEADLY DOSES: Olivia Rotondo (above), 20, told EMTs she was on six hits of ecstasy at the Electric Zoo music fest on Randall’s Island before her death yesterday. Jeffrey Russ, 23, also OD’d.
DEADLY DOSES: Olivia Rotondo (above), 20, told EMTs she was on six hits of ecstasy at the Electric Zoo music fest on Randall’s Island before her death yesterday. Jeffrey Russ, 23, also OD’d.

* A 16-year-old girl found under a van with her pants down and taken to a hospital, where tests showed she was sexually assaulted, according to a city parks advocate.

* At least four people hospitalized in critical condition after apparent drug overdoses.

* Thirty-one arrests, mostly for drug possession but also for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

NYPD detectives launched a homicide probe into the deaths of Rotondo and Russ, police sources said. The duo were not believed to have attended the event together.

Just hours before her death, Rotondo tweeted her excitement about attending the fifth annual Electric Zoo. “The amount of traveling I’ve done today is unreal. Just get me to the damn zoo,” she tweeted Saturday.

Her grieving grandfather Henry Rotondo, 73, told The Post, “She was a great kid — that’s all I can tell you.”

Lauren Pezzelli, who lives across the street from the family, called her “a lovely, beautiful young girl inside and out.”

“They’re devastated,” added Pezzelli of Rotondo’s parents, whom she visited earlier in the day. “It’s not meant to be this way.”

Russ’ aunt Patti Fanto-Holdaway said she and other relatives rushed to New York City when they got the grim news.

“We drove down in the middle of the night after we got the call that he was in the hospital,” she her voice trembling. “We lost him before we got there.”

Russ had been staying with a friend in New Jersey since Thursday.

“He loved going to those things and meeting up with his friends,” Fanto-Holdaway told The Post. “One of his [frat] brothers on his Facebook page said, ‘He lit up every room he walked into.’ He was that kid,” she said.

She said the family was told that Russ had taken ecstasy.

Law-enforcement sources said he also had crystal meth in his pocket when he died.

“He had an extremely high fever when he hit the hospital,” Fanto-Holdaway said.

Russ was pronounced dead at Harlem Hospital at 3 a.m. yesterday, and Rotondo passed away at 10:45 p.m. Saturday at Metropolitan Hospital, officials said.

Both thought they were taking ecstasy, the street name for the euphoria-inducing club drug MDMA, but toxicology reports are still pending.

Sometimes, bogus pills peddled as Molly contain no MDMA at all but instead more harmful drugs such as amphetamines or powerful tranquilizers.

“Especially at concerts, when people are buying from strangers, you have no way of knowing what the hell you’re putting down your throat or up your nose,” the source said.

One source said it was unlikely that the duo got the drug from the same dealer given its widespread popularity, adding they may have brought it with them.

Erin Mulvey, a spokeswoman for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, said much of it is shipped here in bulk powder from overseas and then fashioned into pills.

“The DEA is targeting large-scale distributors for bringing quantities of the drug over from China, India and Canada,” she said.

Many Zoo fans, who paid up to $180 a day to attend, were furious to learn yesterday’s performances — slated to include Zedd, Laidback Luke, Armin Van Buuren, Steve Aoki and Sebastian Ingrosso — wouldn’t go on.

“If you cared about your patrons then you wouldn’t disappoint the tens of thousand RESPONSIBLE concertgoers who LIVE for the music at these festivals,” fumed David Eli on the event’s Facebook page.

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