As the 2016 election looms in the distance, with a number of states working to put initiatives aimed at legalizing marijuana on their respective ballots, everyone from the studied cannabis activist to the average stoner has come crawling out of the woodwork in an attempt to pinpoint which state will embrace the herb next.
Some publications, including Rolling Stone, have already made some seemingly safe predictions for which states they believe are next in line to legalize weed. Yet, other rags and click-bait sites appear to be making their selections by simply throwing darts at a map of Northern America. After all, the highly cited 24/7 Wall St. actually had the nerve to put Minnesota on their list of “The Next 11 States to Legalize Marijuana” this past summer.
But a team of market analysts at the Anderson Economic Group recently published a relatively spot-on tip sheet for those who wish to wager on which states are most likely to legalize the leaf by 2017 and which are on course to go down with the prohibitionary ship.
The 270-page report entitled “The Market for Legal Cannabis Products in the 50 United States” signals Michigan and Nevada as the front runners for establishing a taxed and regulated cannabis industry within the next year, while suggesting that Indiana, Ohio and Texas will probably be three of the last states to make similar reforms.
“With dramatic changes in both public opinion and the legal landscape regarding marijuana, it is clear that future consumption of marijuana in the U.S. will be under a much different legal regime than in the past,” reads a lead-in of the report. “While we do not yet know what this would imply for both state and federal laws, we believe a serious effort to review the available data with numerous indicators could provide us with much better information than what was available in the past.”
As far as those states currently fighting to pass ballot measures in their neck of the woods, the analysis indicates that Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Missouri and Nevada are all safe bets.
It is a bit disheartening, however, to see that although California ranks as one of the states with the most market potential for housing a cannabis industry, it is not given any chances of upgrading beyond its current medical marijuana market by 2017. Florida, a state were pot proponents have initiatives to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana in 2016, was also ranked as having a high market potential—but analysts believe the state will only go as far as pot for medicinal purposes within the next year.
The report goes on to show that Rhode Island and Vermont will be the first two states in the nation to legalize a recreational marijuana market by way of state legislature.
Researchers said that they believe their report is “sober and realistic.”
An argument could be made, however, that this state-by-state assessment is rooted too much in known specifics to be on point. As with any horse race, it is often those elusive elements that end up defining the moment of truth.If California can find a way to whittle down their 12 initiatives and present a single proposal to the voters in 2016, the state could easily legalize a recreational market.