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Which States Will Legalize Cannabis Next?

By now, you’ve probably heard the news. On June 25th, Illinois passed legislation to legalize recreational cannabis for adults. It’s the 11th state (plus Washington D.C.) to pass such a law, and the first to do so through the state legislature, rather than by popular vote. Not only that, but anyone who had previously been convicted of marijuana-related crimes will have their records expunged.

So who’s going to be next? There are a few top contenders. Here are the states that are poised to legalize cannabis soon.

  • An initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio is being considered to go on the ballot in November of this year. It’s not the first time citizens have voted on the issue, though. In 2015, a measure to legalize cannabis for both medical and recreational use was voted down. If it does indeed go before the voters again, though, there’s a distinct possibility that cannabis might be legalized in Ohio before the year is out.
  • Arizona also failed to pass an initiative to legalize cannabis a few years ago. However, it failed by a much smaller margin than the measure in Ohio. Now there’s talk of voting on the issue again in 2020. A lot has changed in this country since 2016, when the original measure was put forward, including the legalization of hemp and CBD by the federal government, as well as the legalization of cannabis by a number of other states. It’s becoming more and more accepted. So if Arizona votes on the issue again, there’s a good chance it will pass this time.
  • The Sunshine State legalized cannabis for medical use in 2016, and it’s been fairly widespread there ever since. In fact, a number of other states, including New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Arizona, accept medical marijuana cards issued in Florida in their own dispensaries. Even so, though, recreational cannabis use is still prohibited in Florida—for now. A number of groups are working to get legalization on the ballot by next year. Whether or not the measure succeeds, remains to be seen.
  • New Jersey. It nearly happened for New Jersey in March of this year. There was legislation being discussed for cannabis legalization, but unfortunately, it failed to get the support it needed in the state legislature. A number of key people ended up opposing the bill due to some disagreements with how it was written and some of the provisions it contained. If the bill could be rewritten to gain bipartisan support, it could pass in 2020.
  • New York. The story here is very similar to the one in New Jersey. The New York state legislature had plans to include recreational cannabis legalization in the budget, but disagreements over the implications caused the idea to be nixed.

At the moment, these are the states that seem most likely to legalize recreational cannabis within the next year and a half or so. However, anything can happen in that time. Another state might introduce legislation, or a ballot measure, completely out of left field, and overtake all of them. We’ll just have to wait and see how things play out. But hopefully, within a few years, all 50 states will allow the free use of cannabis, without penalties or restrictions.