Over the last decade, the United States has become more open to legalizing the use of cannabis, for both recreational and medical outlets. A recent survey shows the growth in popularity of the idea, based on a handful of considerations. From taxable revenue for states, backed by surety bonds held by cannabis business owners, to promising decreases in illegal activities and incarceration, more legalization support is prompting state lawmakers to make a move. In 2018, several states could shift laws toward cannabis legalization, tipping their hat at supports calling for action.
Here are the 12 states considering changes in legalization in the upcoming year.
Vermont – In May 2017, a recreational cannabis bill was approved by Vermont legislature, although it was vetoed by the governor. Instead, a commission was created to study the issues surrounding cannabis legalization, including health concerns, driving impairment rates, and substance abuse problems related to other drugs. In 2018, Vermont is expected to pass legislation allowing the possession of one ounce of cannabis and the cultivation of two mature plans, for adults over the age of 21.
New Jersey – The use of recreational cannabis is set to be signed into law this year by a Democratic-led legislature in New Jersey. The outcries against racial injustice in the criminal justice system relating to cannabis arrests and incarceration are touted as the motivating factor behind the move in 2018.
Michigan – Advocates for legalizing cannabis use for recreational purposes are swarming in Michigan, with the hopes of securing the 250,000 signatures to include the proposal on the ballot in November. The change would allow recreational use of the drug for adults at least age 21.
Delaware – In Delaware, a legislative task force was asked to evaluate the impact of legalized cannabis for recreational use in late 2017. While efforts to legalize the drug were shot down last year, many see another opportunity in 2018.
Rhode Island – Recreational cannabis use is on the docket for Rhode Island in 2018, based on similar actions taken by neighboring Massachusetts and Maine. A legislative commission was formed in 2017 to study impacts of doing so, and recommendations are slated to be used to draft a bill for legalization later in 2018.
Connecticut – In Connecticut, lawmakers in Hartford approved a resolution to legalize recreational cannabis use in 2017. A statewide initiative may be on the ballot in 2018 based on this local move.
Ohio – Efforts to legalize cannabis for recreational use failed in Ohio during the 2015 cycle, but another ballot proposal is set to be included in the 2018 elections.
Oklahoma – In either June or November, Oklahoma lawmakers plan to include the option for voters to decide whether medical cannabis should be legalized within the state. Oklahoma would then join the other 29 states who have already approved legalization for medical use if the voting public approves.
Kentucky – Similar to Oklahoma, Kentucky is pushing ahead on a legalization bill for medical cannabis use in 2018. There is not as much optimism that a proposed bill will pass in the state, however, given recent concerns about cannabis overdoses from the governor.
South Dakota – In 2018, South Dakota may be added to the ranks of states legalizing medical cannabis. Currently, signatures to support a ballot initiative are being reviewed by the secretary of state, in hopes of adding a voter option in elections in November.
Utah – Medical cannabis may also be on the ballot for Utah voters in November of this year. The law will expand current medical cannabis legalization throughout the state if approved.
Missouri – Signatures are currently being acquired for a medical cannabis ballot initiative in Missouri as well, which would be decided by voters in the state if included.
Author: 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.