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5 States Most Likely to Legalize Cannabis Next

Photo by Nico Escondido

Legalized cannabis is spreading like wildfire throughout the United States.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have approved the use and sale of marijuana in some way—eight states have legalized adult-use for those 21 and over. Legal cannabis is already raking in billions of dollars in revenue in these states and plenty of others want in.

So, which states are likely to approve recreational pot next? Read on for our predictions.

1. Michigan

This Midwest state approved medical marijuana in 2008, and citizens have been calling for adult-use ever since. Previous efforts for ballot initiatives lacked enough signatures to bring the debate to the voters, but this year has seen a surge of support.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is leading the way for legalization, secured nearly two-thirds of the required signatures well ahead of the deadline. If adult-use is passed in 2018, Michigan could pave the way for the rest of the Midwest to follow suit.

2. Vermont

Vermont has made headlines in the past for nearly passing recreational pot via the state legislature as opposed to voter initiatives. However, each bill that has made it to the governor’s desk has been vetoed.

This year has seen a positive shift—instead of outright killing the bill, Gov. Phil Scott sent it back to legislators, asking for additional protections against driving while high and child safety. Scott has stated he is not “philosophically opposed” to legal cannabis, and said he recognized there is a “clear societal shift in that direction.”

3. Connecticut

There has been talk of legalizing rec in the Connecticut legislature, but nothing has failed to stick—yet. But with neighbor state Massachusetts preparing to open adult-use dispensaries, Connecticut will surely want a piece of the pie.

The state is facing budgetary issues and could use the millions—if not billions—of dollars that recreational pot could bring in.

4. Arizona

The Southwest is another emerging market in the cannabis industry; Nevada and California have already passed adult-use. Arizona legalized medical marijuana in 2011, and there has been widespread support for recreational.

Supporters of a ballot initiative gained enough signatures for a statewide vote, but a new concept called “strict compliance” may quash any hopes of legalization. The compliance law, which the Arizona legislature recently passed, makes it extremely difficult for ballot initiatives to get off the ground floor; initiatives can be rejected for technical, inadvertent and inconsequential mistakes like a coffee stain or an ink smudge. A lawsuit is underway, calling the law unconstitutional.

If it is overturned, adult-use cannabis could easily be passed.

5. Minnesota

 The Land of 10,000 Lakes is known for being an oasis of blue in a sea of red, and so it comes to a surprise to many that they only recently passed medical cannabis—and that it is one of the most restrictive programs in the country. This is due to Governor Mark Dayton’s known anti-pot stance, but since he is stepping down in 2018, it is all but assumed that the next governor will be more pragmatic regarding the issue.

There have been bills introduced in the Minnesota legislature that would legalize adult-use but so far have gone nowhere. However, it is the beginning of a dialogue and a step in the right direction.

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