Marijuana is now legal for medicinal and recreational purposes in over half the United States, with a solid majority of the population supporting efforts to end prohibition nationwide.
However, cleverly persuading the federal government to end to the war on weed—at least at this point in the game—appears to be a long shot by even the most modest predictions. Instead, Uncle Sam appears more interested in giving states the right to legalize the leaf as they see fit, an inch-of-rope that pot proponents believe will lead to as many as six new states passing legalization initiatives in 2016.
Some of the latest public opinion polls, according to a report compiled by The Washington Post, reveal an outpouring of support for pot legalization in states with some of the strictest policies over its possession.
In Texas—where Governor Greg Abbott has said the state will not so much as decriminalize while he is in office—an impressive 58 percent of the residents are prepared to get behind efforts to establish a statewide cannabis industry. While Louisiana, a state infamous for putting non-violent pot offenders in prison, has the legalization support of 53 percent of the population.
As many as 11 initiatives aimed at legalizing marijuana are expected to go before voters in the November 2016 election. In Ohio, citizens will likely get to decide on this issue later in the year. Yet, the latest surveys reveal true majority support for only six proposals: Arizona, California, Nevada, Massachusetts, Michigan and Ohio. These states have the best shot at establishing the next taxed and regulated cannabis markets.
In line with the polls, drug policy experts have made similar projections in terms of which states will be next to legalize. Before the turn of the new year, Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said that at least five states were expected to vote on legal weed in 2016, including “Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada—and one could potentially appear on the ballot in Missouri.”
For now, at least in relation to the current polling situation, citizens of Missouri and Maine remain uncertain whether they support legalization or not—both states are missing the support of the majority.
Despite Kampia’s recent suggestion that Ohio runs the risk of failing to pass a cartel-like ballot initiative in 2015, you have to give credit to the state for being home to the only organization, so far, to submit enough signatures to earn a spot on the ballot—a major detail that none of the advocacy groups in the other five states have yet managed to accomplish.
In the July issue of Reason Magazine, Kampia said his predictions for the legalization win, as of now, are “California, Nevada, and maybe Maine, less so in Ohio, Massachusetts, and Arizona.”