Over half of all U.S. states and Washington DC have some sort of cannabis reform. The first recreational states, Colorado and Washington, showed the world that responsible cannabis legalization is possible. Now, a handful of additional states are expected to hop on the green bandwagon as early as this year. Here are five states most likely to legalize in 2017.
1. New Jersey
New Jersey has had a difficult relationship with cannabis reform. While desperate parents once battled with Gov. Chris Christie (R) over access to medical cannabis, a change of tune echoes from the state now.
Earlier in 2016, NJ lawmakers visited Colorado to learn more about the safety and implementation of legalized recreational cannabis.
The delegation was led by Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), who wanted the trip to remove “fear and the joke” about legal cannabis access. Scutari also sees a lot of state benefits after legalization. He stated last October,
This is not a joke…This is big money and it’s great savings to the state.
Unfortunately, Christie still remains a major obstacle for recreational cannabis. Will the state finally see the reform it deserves? Only future voters can make that decision.
2. Rhode Island
Last October, Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) began research on how to safely legalize, implement, and regulate recreational cannabis. She has also reportedly stated that she would consider reform if Massachusetts and Main legalized.
The state failed to pass legislation in 2016 and Raimondo has expressed concern over children’s safety with legalization. Yet, it’s safe to say that the Rhode Island cannabis discussion has gotten quite serious.
If Rhode Island passes, legalization talk is speculated to increase in Connecticut and Vermont, which would open the doors to a canna-friendly New England.
3. New Mexico
New Mexican legislators authorized a medical cannabis program in 2007. Since that time, the population has warmed up to the herb even more. 61% of voters in New Mexico are in support of cannabis reform. Now, it’s only a matter of time before residents get to make a move on a new law.
Earlier in 2016, representatives Bill McCamley (D) and Javier Martinez (D) introduced HB-11, the Cannabis Revenue And Freedom Act, which attempted to legalize the adult use of cannabis.
The measure failed, but the representatives are back at it again this year and a similar bill is expected to circulate.
In 2015, Delaware decriminalized the possession of a small amount of cannabis. Now, legislators and voters are stepping it up a notch.
Last October, Sen. Margaret Rose Henry (D) stated that she would introduce a bill permitting cannabis for adults over the age of 21. She has been a proponent of cannabis reform for quite a while. In fact, Henry is largely responsible for the state’s medical cannabis program.
As far as recreational is concerned, things may be a little more difficult. Henry explains,
It’s certainly being considered. It’s going to be an uphill battle. But it’s time, quite frankly. It’s time to certainly look at it.
The bill is expected to be introduced sometime this month (January.)
Texas is not the most cannabis-progressive state in the country, but legislators are opening up. The state recently established the Compassionate Use Program, allows a limited low-THC cannabis program for patients with epilepsy. However, the slight budge in cannabis policy isn’t enough for many medical patients.
State Senator Jose Menendez (D) has introduced SB 269, which expands the State’s medical cannabis program to include more accepted conditions. Menendez invited doctors and veterans to join him on Capitol Hill to share their experience and cannabis expertise. He explains,
I filed this bill because doctors, not politicians, should determine the best treatment for severely ill Texans. This is a legitimate medicine that can help a variety of sick people from a grandmother suffering from cancer to a veteran coping with PTSD.
Hopefully, other legislators will share Menendez’s passion as well.