The States That Could Legalize Marijuana This Year and How it will Affect Addiction

marijuanaThe craze to legalize marijuana has been sweeping through our country, and shows no signs of stopping. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Washington D.C. are leading the charge with full legalization of the drug for recreational use.   Nineteen other states have now approved the use of medical marijuana. Some are even accepting medical ID cards from patients in other states, which hints at the prospect of a country-wide medical ID system coming eventually.

This is a classic case of grassroots activism, with people throughout the country campaigning for legalization of marijuana even as federal politicians are focused almost entirely on other tasks.   There are also political reasons to push for legalization: In just over half a year with legalized sales occurring in Colorado, the state had earned nearly $11 million from recreational marijuana.

SO, WHO WILL BE NEXT?

Obviously, nothing is 100% certain in politics. However, there are a few frontrunners whose actions indicate they will likely be the next to legalize:

California was the first state to approve of medical marijuana. However, this has led to mixed feelings in the state. In the last round of voting, California had several city and county ballots regarding marijuana, some of which wanted to put restrictions on medical marijuana use. Given the fact that some residents of the state are campaigning against medical marijuana and trying to restrict the areas in which dispensaries can be located, it seems a safe bet they won’t be legalizing this year.

However, because California sets an example for the rest of the country in a lot of ways, it is already seeing a lot of lobbying and special interest groups pushing to get marijuana fully legalized.   The Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance are already hard at work crafting the language which they feel would be most likely to get California residents to vote in favor of full legalization.

Florida voted in May 2014 to exempt patients with severe medical issues from the marijuana laws. Then, in the midterm election, the full legalization of medical marijuana was barely shot down, garnering 58% of the vote where it needed 60%. This happened in Oregon, too, shortly before full legalization was passed.

In Massachusetts, certain districts were asked the “non-binding public policy question” of whether the State Representative should approve legislation that would make marijuana taxed and regulated just like alcohol. This was a rare case of the legal bodies pre-empting the public and trying to anticipate their desires on this issue. Officials in New Mexico similarly polled a few of their counties, and the people were in favor of legalization.

In 2016, Nevada will be voting on whether to regulate marijuana in the same way as alcohol is. Their legislature has already taken steps to ensure this will happen.

Maine, like its neighbor New Hampshire, has a hearty and steadfast population of liberals who would rather the government not dictate their choices. (In New Hampshire, you don’t even have to wear a seatbelt once you reach eighteen years old.)   While the entire state has yet to vote for legalization, two of its major cities held their own votes (which passed with flying colors).

HOW THIS WILL AFFECT ADDICTION

While studies and speculation could be quoted, observing the experience of states with legalized marijuana is a good guideline here. Colorado and Washington have had legal marijuana for the longest, and are both experiencing the same results. In each state, marijuana usage among adults has risen by 3% in a year or less. This runs contrary to the idea that by legalizing marijuana we will make it less glamorous, or somehow reduce the demand for it. If these states continue the march toward legalization, we will have more marijuana users on our hands, and quickly.

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