The year 2015 saw a number of states legalize marijuana use in some circumstances, reflecting a growing acceptance of its use by the public. Although marijuana has been used for medicinal and recreational use for a number of years, some states have been slow to accept the reality for a variety of reasons. Even the medical cannabis, which has an increasing amount of data supporting its use as a medication, has been slow to gain acceptance in some areas of the nation. However, in 2016, the public can expect a number of other states to join the legalization parade.
As of April 2015, twenty-three states have already legalized some form of marijuana use to date. In some cases, legalized use is restricted to non-psychoactive forms of cannabis. In Hawaii, Michigan, Delaware and Vermont, medicinal use of marijuana has been legalized. In Colorado, Alaska, Washington and Oregon, full use of cannabis, recreational and otherwise is now allowed.
California Medical marijuana has been a part of California culture since 1996 when medicinal use of cannabis was allowed for the first time in the United States. The state continued to treat personal possession of marijuana for recreational use as an infraction of the law similar to a traffic violation. However, Governor Jerry Brown has recently signed three new regulations into law to provide the legal structure for allowing recreational use in the state.
Nevada Nevada legalized medical cannabis in 2000. As the first state to qualify for the 2016 ballot, the state is getting ready to expand marijuana legalization to recreational use. They already have 60,000 more signatures than needed to put it on the ballot. Arizona In 2010, Arizona legalized medical cannabis. Currently, activists are working toward full legalization for recreational use and expect laws to pass during 2016. Maine Maine has instituted a well-run marijuana program since its legalization of medical use in 1999.
Because of the program’s success, Maine residents are expected to make a push for full legalization in 2016. Some areas of the state have already passed legalization measures for recreational use. Rhode Island Rhode Island recently introduced a recreational marijuana bill to its legislature and will continue to debate the issue this year. Recent polling from the Marijuana Policy Project found that 57 percent of the residents of the state would rather have marijuana regulated than banned. The hope is that legalization will get rid of the underground market in marijuana and provide tax revenue for the state. Vermont Vermont’s Governor Peter Schulman has said that he is monitoring the progress of legalization efforts in Colorado to see how it is being implemented in that state.
Organized meetings regarding legalization in Vermont are now being conducted to determine the best ways to set up the program in the state, indicating that marijuana legislation is likely to be a part of the state’s public debate this year. Connecticut In 2012, Connecticut legalized the medicinal use of marijuana in the state. However, it has not seen a big push to legalize recreational use. So far, the current program has run well, and law enforcement agencies in the state are preparing for expansion of the program in the future. Ohio has been engaged in vigorous public debate about legalization of marijuana.
A Quinnipiac University poll in October of 2015 found that 53 percent of Ohioans supported legalization, while 44 percent opposed the idea. However, as other states make progress in this area, it is expected that Ohioans will follow suit in 2016. Michigan Although medical marijuana has been legal in Michigan since 2008, the program is not yet running at in an efficient manner. However, a number of pro-legalization groups are working within the state to fully legalize marijuana use in 2016.