Next year could see a huge shift in favor of green, and we’re not talking about the environment.
Lawmakers have taken notice of the shift in public opinion on marijuana legalization, and many are no longer afraid that supporting legal weed is political suicide. There are now eight states and the District of Columbia that have legalized marijuana, and four of those laws were enacted in the past year alone.
“As medical marijuana grew, we saw that support for legalization has increased at an accelerating pace,” says David Borden, executive director of StoptheDrugWar.org, which advocates for better drug policy. “People have seen that the sky hasn’t fallen … People are getting used to it.”
Recent legalizations are an encouraging sign that other states could hastily follow. However, all legalization directives up to this point have not come from governing bodies, but instead from statewide referendums and initiatives that appear on voting ballots after citizens have lobbied for them. There are only 26 states that allow residents to choose the initiatives that go on the statewide ballot.
Some states’ efforts are looking more promising than others due to newly elected lawmakers, changing public opinion, and major grassroot movements.
Vermont may be poised to be the first state to legalize marijuana through its legislature passing a law. The legislation has the support to smoothly pass — the only thing standing in the way is Gov. Phil Scott. The governor vetoed the bill when it landed on his desk in May, but he told the legislature he would consider it again once they added stiffer regulations and punishments relating to public safety, including “stoned driving” and use around children.
Even though Borden says he speculates how sincere the Vermont governor is in promising to review the legalization legislation, the approval from the legislature