Legalization of marijuana has taken center stage in the last several election cycles, on both state and federal levels. However, the move to eliminate prohibition against the drug has been slow for several reasons, not the least of which is the negative stigma attached to its use. Even while the American people are steadily increasing their support of legalization, politicians face barriers in getting the topic of marijuana discussed on a more broad basis. Both medical and recreational marijuana use bills were included on the docket in the 2016 elections, and many states are taking up the issue in the midterm elections slated for 2018.
Part of the reason no less than 12 states are gearing up for marijuana legalization reform can be linked to the success some states have had in creating a sound system for its growth, distribution, and retail sales. Colorado, for example, has put in place the bonding and licensing requirements needed for a stable economic and tax revenue system which has allowed for millions of dollars to flow through the state. Here are the states positioned to include marijuana legalization in some form on the docket in 2018.
Several lawmakers in Hartford, Connecticut, approved a bill to legalize recreational marijuana use back in 2017. Based on this forward progress, many believe that a statewide vote may be on the ballot in the midterm elections for 2018.
A bill focused on the legalization of medical marijuana is positioned to be included on the ballot in 2018, although there is little optimism surrounding its passing. The governor of the state spoke publicly about concerns over marijuana overdose, despite there being little evidence backing the statement.
Oklahoma lawmakers plan to include a ballot vote in either June or November to allow residents to determine whether medical marijuana use should become legal. There is no plan for a bill surrounding recreational use at this time.
Although an effort to get marijuana use on a recreational basis was declined in 2015, lawmakers intend to include a ballot proposal for the 2018 elections.
A bill for recreational marijuana use was approved by Vermont lawmakers in May of 2017, but it was quickly vetoed by the governor. However, the initiative is still on the docket given a commission was created at that time to gather research surrounding the health concerns, driving impairment statistics, and substance abuse cases related to marijuana use in the state. Vermont is poised to include legislation for recreational use based on these research efforts in 2018.
Legalization of recreational marijuana is a hot topic in Michigan, with lawmakers coming together to collect the 250,000 signatures needed to include a proposal on the November 2018 ballot. If passed, the new law would allow residents of the state to use marijuana as a recreational drug, so long as they were above the legal age of 21.
In 2018, New Jersey is well-positioned to have a recreational marijuana bill signed into law, based on the Democratic legislature currently in place.
A legislative task force, similar to the commission created in Vermont, is currently evaluating the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes in Delaware. Another opportunity to approve a new law allowing recreational use is set for 2018 midterms.
A commission was formed in 2017 in Rhode Island to study the influence marijuana use has on the state, following leads by Massachusetts and Maine. The information gathered from the commission in Rhode Island is meant to act as a starting point for drafting a legalization bill, set for delivery in 2018.
Signatures to support a legalization ballot are currently being reviewed by South Dakota secretary of state in the hopes that a vote will be added to the ballot in late 2018.
Utah voters may have an opportunity to approve the use of medical marijuana in the state of Utah in 2018. There are current laws regulating medical marijuana use in the state, but the new law would expand the drug’s use for more health conditions.
2018 has the potential to be a progressive year in terms of marijuana legalization, but many states still have a way to go in getting new laws on the books.
Author bio: Eric Weisbrot is the Chief Marketing Officer of JW Surety Bonds. With years of experience in the surety industry under several different roles within the company, he is also a contributing author to the surety bond blog.