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Here’s A Look at 6 Potential States Next In Line To Legalize Marijuana

2016 broke records for legalization of marijuana with four more states going legal. Sixty five million people currently live in states where adults 21 and over can possess weed and medical marijuana. A record that will be held for at least two years. AlterNet points out that 2017 is not an election year; therefore, there will not be many voter initiatives and definitely no major ones that require big turnout such as legalization.

This signifies that any advancements to be made regarding drug policy will need to be made by policymakers and elected lawmakers on the state level. Considering that for a law to pass it requires legislative approval as well as the signature of a governor and since politicians (greatly depend on relationships with police for their political livelihood) have proven to be the least likely to get anything done on this issue; this does not look good for the marijuana industry.

Mix this with a Donald Trump administration who is likely to have a negative impact on drug policy reform (considering his choices for attorney general and Secretary of Health) and it could be a torturous two years. There is still a chance. Currently some states have advanced through the normal professional lawmaker process, some limited medical marijuana programs or low-to-no-THC-only laws, such as the ones in Hawaii and Texas.

Even though cannabis is a bipartisan issue with a winning record this year in red states, the best indicators of legalization appear to be regional. In 2014, Oregon and Alaska followed Washington and Colorado and this year, legalization conquered in two New England states as well as two western states. On this note, AlterNet points out five states with a high probability of being the next ones legalizing, to which we added a sixth suggestion.


Legalization has two precursors: legal medical marijuana and decriminalized possession. For example: if an adult can have a specific quantity because they are ill and a specific quantity already will not result in an arrest and a prosecution; the next step is to allow all adults to possess that amount. Seems simple and considering Connecticut has implemented the first two, it makes sense to assume the third may come next. A few days following Massachusetts legalization; immediately on the state’s north, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy stated that a reexamination of “our position of enforcement” would be likely “based on what some surrounding states are doing.” AlterNet believes that having Malloy on board is important because it would eliminate the need of overriding any potential veto.


Most people who work in Washington, D.C., where adult-use marijuana is legal, either live in Virginia or Maryland. If they are pro-cannabis they favor Maryland where medical marijuana was legalized in 2014 and where decriminalization took place in 2015. Republican Larry Hogan; the current governor, is against marijuana, but polls are in favor of legalization. AlterNet noted that only a few obstructionist committee chairs stopped legalization bills from advancing in both of the state’s legislative chambers.

New Hampshire

Newly elected Republican governor Chris Sununu “is clearly on record in favor of decriminalizing marijuana possession,” as per the Marijuana Policy Project and nearby states Massachusetts and Maine both appear to have legalized recreational marijuana. (Massachusetts did handily; a recount is underway in Maine.)

If decriminalization comes fast, there should be more momentum in the state House of Representatives to revisit the legalization bill passed in 2014. The state’s lower chamber approved a bill that January that would have legalized, taxed and regulated cannabis in the same way it is being approved by voters across the country.

That bill was dead after the then-governors threat to veto and efforts to revive it went nowhere, but it reveals support that has definitely increased in the ensuing three years.

New Mexico

Besides California; New Mexico is the bluest state in the Sun Belt. New Mexico’s neighbor to the north is Colorado, where legalization is a success. New Mexico has had medical marijuana since 2007. Polling is strong with medical cannabis at 61 percent. That generally signifies a ballot initiative would be a good bet. State Sen. Jerry Ortiz said he plans to introduce a constitutional amendment that would initiate a legalization vote. New Mexico also has a lawmaker focused on legalization in the state house. Rep. Bill McCamley is promising to introduce a legalization bill for the third time.

Rhode Island

Usually what happens in Massachusetts happens in Rhode Island even though one could argue that pot is a Rhode Island thing. Decriminalization passed here four years ago. AlterNet points out that even though they have never been voted on, legalization bills have been introduced in the state legislature yearly over the last six years.


In the Left Coast of New England; Vermont gave us U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. Vermont was on its way to legalizing through the state house before a legalization bill died in the lower chamber. Despite the roadblock, both houses of the legislature agreed to keep the issue alive. According to a 2015 report from the RAND Corporation, Vermonters love pot. The study found that approximately 12 percent of the state’s residents are regular cannabis consumers. Also, cannabis is a $175 million annual business for the state of fewer than 630,000 people.

This signifies there is a natural, built-in constituency for any pro-weed politician—one of whom, Sen. Dick Sears, referred to Massachusetts’ legalization as a “game-changer.” Even the Republican governor, anti-regulation Phil Scott, says he “can appreciate the discussion around ending the prohibition of marijuana.” If we had to bet on the next state to go legal, we would put our money on Vermont.

By J. Phillip

Coming from Miami FL, Jonathan Phillip or (J. Phillip) is a social media marketer and currently head of PR and social media management for When working with clients in various sectors Jonathan will use his expertise and knowledge to make sure the correct audience is viewing and engaging with your content product or service. Jonathan is a self-taught marketer and entrepreneur learning from the best and sharpening his skills with each project.

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