It’s a fun fact that the 10 states least likely to legalize marijuana also happen to be among the most conservative states in the country.
Though 58% of Americans favor cannabis legalization, several states continue to have excessively harsh marijuana policies. The states below may need the helping hand of Federal intervention before any real change can be made.
In a state where only low alcohol content beer (no wine and no liquor) is sold in convenience stores, it’s not surprising that Utah voters will Just Say No to weed. Utah is a unique case. 62% of the state citizens are homogenized under one primary religion: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church). Intoxicants like tobacco and alcohol are banned by the Mormon Church. Until quite recently, permission to drink coffee and other caffeinated beverages remained ambiguous.
Thus, cannabis faces an uphill battle in Utah largely due to cultural reasons. Regardless of the wealth of research on marijuana’s medical effects, we certainly won’t see Colorado-style dispensaries popping up anytime soon. In fact, possessing even small amounts of marijuana is a felony in this state.
Apparently, Alabamans just don’t smoke that much weed. The national average for marijuana use hovers around 12.3% for those 12-years-old and up. In Alabama, that average lowers to 9.7%. A lack of interest in the cannabis plant may be one of the reasons why it has been so difficult to garner support for medical marijuana bills in the state.
In 2014, lawmakers DID pass Carly’s Law. Carly’s law provides extremely limited access to CBD oils for epileptics through a special program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The University’s Department of Neurology is the only place patients may go to access CBD oils.
For healthy individuals caught with weed, you may find yourself facing a $6,000 fine for an ounce. If you’re caught more than once, it’s a felony and you might face up to 5 years in prison.
Arkansas is another state that is culturally anti-intoxicant. In what seems like an odd blast from the past, state voters rejected a bill that would allow statewide alcohol sales in 2014. In Arkansas, a patchwork of dry, rural counties surround the progressive central cities Little Rock and Fayetteville. The cultural disconnect between city and country doesn’t make passing new drug laws particularly easy. Especially when it comes to substances like alcohol and marijuana.
Despite the hard work of activists, Arkansas voters rejected a measure that would allow medical marijuana for seriously ill patients in 2012. Further efforts to gather signatures on petitions for medical cannabis have also come up short. This may be partly because police departments rake in serious dough on anyone caught with over 4 ounces of weed. Having 4 ounces or more will earn you a whopping $10,000 fine.
Activists in Georgia have been petitioning hard for marijuana reform for quite some time. Unfortunately, there’s been little movement from the state’s government or voters. Following the trend of other conservative states, legislators have passed a measure allowing possession of low-THC oil for certain medical patients. The bill, however, does not allow for production or sales of marijuana oil. This means that while patients can use low-THC oil without breaking any laws, they face breaking both state and federal law by trying to procure it.
Georgia also takes drug arrests fairly seriously. An ACLU study conducted in 2013 found that Georgia ranked 6th in the nation for marijuana-related arrests. Felony charges begin with possession of only one ounce.
Marijuana lovers should watch their backs in Idaho. Possession of three ounces or less equates to a year in prison and a hefty $1,000 fine. Anything over three ounces? Up to 5 years in prison. Even appearing under the influence of marijuana is a misdemeanor and is punishable by 6 months imprisonment.
Let’s be honest: Idaho has some of the scariest marijuana policies in the country. Other anti-weed states have narrowly allowed some legislation on CBD oil to slip through, but Governor Butch Otter failed to see the benefit of such policies and vetoed the bill before it came to into law. So far, the future of marijuana reform in Idaho looks bleak.
Indiana residents support marijuana decriminalization by 53%. Yet even with majority public support, bills favoring medical marijuana reform seem to be struck down before they gain the tiniest bit of traction. Most recently, Indiana Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Jean Leising filed a bill that would protect doctors and patients from prosecution during trials using CBD oil. The bill is SB 72, and it actually stands a decent chance of passing.
SB 72, however, does nothing to protect the average marijuana consumer. In Indiana, you can spend up to one year in jail for possession of one joint. You may also face a $5,000 fine.
Voters of Wichita showed a true independent streak last year when they decriminalized possession for first-time offenders. The State of Kansas was not happy about this. The state and the city are currently locked in a Supreme Court battle over whether or not the ordinance violates state law. If the court decides that the ordinance does not hold, Wichita voters are determined to try again.
Kansas currently has some of the harshest marijuana penalties in the nation. The state hits second-time offenders particularly hard for possession of as little as one gram. What equates to possession of a common joint can earn you a $100,000 fine.
Oklahoma made headlines in the weed world in 2014 when the state attempted to sue the State of Colorado over marijuana legalization. In the eyes of Oklahoma’s Attorney General Scott Pruitt:
“The State of Colorado authorizes, oversees, protects, and profits from a sprawling $100-million-per-month marijuana growing, processing, and retailing organization that exported thousands of pounds of marijuana to some 36 States in 2014.”
Basically, Colorado is one giant drug cartel. Sorry, Oklahomans. It doesn’t seem like you’ll be gaining accesses to legal weed anytime soon. Unless, of course, you move to Colorado.
For every 100,000 arrests in Tennessee, 363.8 are marijuana related. This number is alarmingly higher than the national average, sitting at 239 for every 100,000. While the number of weed arrests is shockingly high (no pun intended), the state is easier on first and second-time offenders than some. The first couple of times you are caught with cannabis, you’ll find yourself with a misdemeanor. You may also face up to one year in jail.
But, hey. Look on the bright side. It’s better than a felony, right?
Many states penalize marijuana users for possession rather than use. Wyoming is not one of them. If you are caught using cannabis, you will face 6 months in jail and a $750 fine. But that’s not all. Wyoming legislators shot down a medical marijuana bill last year. Petitioners are now hoping to reach the 25,000 valid signatures they would need to get another medical initiative in before the 2016 general election.
Current Governor Matt Mead has strongly opposed cannabis legalization. Mead announced last summer that he will be putting together a panel to assess the harms and outcomes marijuana legalization would have on Wyoming.
Several of these states, like Georgia, Tennesee, Utah, and Oklahoma have successfully passed CBD legislation. In theory, these laws allow patients to purchase non-psychoactive weed oil for medical use. The fact conservative legislators have budged slightly on any type of cannabis product may seem like a positive sign for continued change. Unfortunately, many of these laws fail to provide real access points for sick patients and cannabis users still risk harsh penalties.
Do you live in one of these states? Have you or a loved one faced difficulties due to harsh marijuana policies? Make legislators take marijuana reform seriously. Share this article and spread the word about harsh penalties and biased policies. Have something to say? Drop us a line on social media or leave us a note in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!