All 50 U.S. states will have some form of legalized marijuana use in place within the next decade, according to cannabis advocates who see spirited political battles over legalization shaping up in the year ahead.
A total of 30 states have laws on the books legalizing marijuana use for specified medical conditions, according to Paul Armentano, deputy director of the pro-legalization group NORML. And eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults.
“I don’t see 2018 as more pivotal than 2016 was,” Armentano told Watchdog.org. There may not be as many people voting on cannabis-related measures next year than there were in 2016, but he expects several battleground contests to emerge in 2018.
A medical cannabis ballot measure is headed to the November 2018 ballot in Oklahoma, with a similar measure also likely to be decided by Missouri voters, he said. In addition, Michigan signature gatherers are close to the required signature number to place an adult-use legalization measure before voters in that state.
And advocates of medical cannabis in Utah are currently gathering signatures to put their measure on the 2018 ballot, according to Armentano.
State lawmakers tend to be more reluctant to plunge ahead with these types of reforms, he said, but West Virginia legislators passed a bill earlier this year allowing marijuana to be dispensed legally for the treatment of serious medical conditions. Gov. Jim Justice signed that measure into law in April.
“You’re seeing a snowball effect of states that are legalizing it,” Derek Peterson, CEO of a California-based cannabis agricultural firm called Terra Tech Corp., told Watchdog.org. Peterson sees both New Jersey and Florida as prime areas for adult-use legalization in the years ahead.
The taxation aspects of legalized cannabis also have the attention of state officials