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8 States in the US are Looking to Legalize Marijuana in 2016

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  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    View attachment 46978 Beginning in 2012, four states and the District of Columbia have voted to legalize marijuana. By this time next year, that number could well double, and then some. National polls now consistently show majorities in favor legalization, with a recent Gallup poll having 58% supported for the highest level in the poll's history.

    That doesn't mean legalization is inevitable in any given state, as the case of Ohio earlier this month demonstrated. There, an initiative led by non-movement investors who sought monopolistic control of commercial pot cultivation got trounced despite spending millions of dollars.

    But the Ohio result was probably a fluke, a convergence of a number of factors, including tone-deaf initiative organizers, a flawed initiative, a widely criticized mascot, and the fact that it was an off-off-year election with low voter turnout. There is no reason to believe that legalization initiatives likely next year in other states will be defeated just because the Ohio effort went down in flames.

    At this point, it looks like there are six states likely to legalize weed through the initiative process next year, with those efforts at varying stages, and a couple more that could do it through the legislative process.

    Here they are:

    INITIATIVE STATES

    ALREADY ON THE BALLOT

    Nevada. The legalization initiative from the Marijuana Policy Project-backed Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol qualified for the ballot last December. That means that by the time Election Day 2016 arrives, organizers will have had nearly two years to make their case to voters. Under state law, the legislature could have acted on the petitions and legalized weed, but it declined to do so, so now it goes direct to the voters. There are no recent state polls on legalization, but it had 54% support in 2013, and there is no reason to think it has declined since then.

    PETITION DRIVES WELL ADVANCED

    Arizona. The Marijuana Policy Project-backed Campaign to Legalize Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona announced last week that it had already collected 100,000 signatures for its legalization initiative. It needs to collect 150,000 valid signatures by next July to qualify for the ballot, appears well on the way to doing so, and says it is aiming for 230,000 raw signatures to have a healthy cushion.

    A June poll had support at 53%.

    Maine. Once there were two competing initiative campaigns in the state, but now there is only one. The Marijuana Policy Project-backed Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has quit signature gathering for its legalization initiative and joined forces with Legalize Maine in support of its slightly looser legalization initiative.

    Both campaigns had gathered about 40,000 raw signatures each before coalescing. The Legalize Maine campaign will need 61,000 valid voter signatures to qualify, and it has until February 1 to get them. That seems eminently doable, and if it makes the ballot, it should win: A poll in April had support for legalization at a whopping 65%.

    Massachusetts. Unlike Maine, the Marijuana Policy Project has so far been unable to form a united front with local activists, so there are two ongoing legalization campaigns. The MPP-backed Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and its legalization initiative is vying with the homegrown Bay State Repeal and its legalization initiative.

    As in Maine, the local initiative is slightly looser. Earlier this month, the Campaign said it has already collected 100,000 signatures. It only needs 64,750 valid signatures to qualify, so it already has a nice cushion and the rest of this month to gather more. It's not known how advanced the Bay State Repeal signature drive is, but it already looks like at least one legalization initiative will be on the ballot next year. Under state law, if an initiative has enough signatures, the legislature can then move to enact it. If the legislature doesn't act, the campaign must then gather an additional 10,800 signatures to put it before the voters.

    One recent poll had support for legalization at only 41%, but it had a small sample size and large margin of error. Polls from 2014 had legalization winning by anywhere from six to 13 points, and the voters previously supported medical marijuana and decriminalization initiatives with a 63% vote.

    Michigan. Another state with two competing campaigns, and the one that looks the iffiest in terms of qualifying for the ballot. Some 252,000 valid voter signatures are needed to qualify, and neither campaign is there yet. Backed by Republican business interests, the Michigan Cannabis Coalition said it had collected 200,000 signatures for its legalization initiative by the end of October before making a "strategic decision" to temporarily suspend petitioning.

    It has until the end of January to come up with more. Meanwhile, state activists have created the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee (MI Legalize) and are signature gathering around their own legalization initiative. Last week, they said they were 90,000 signatures shorl though it that is just raw numbers, they will need substantially more to have a comfortable cushion and they have until the end of December to get them. Both campaigns have money in the bank and are paying signature-gatherers.

    STILL IN A CONFUSED MUDDLE

    California. California should have been an almost sure there next year, and probably still is, but it is getting late in the game, and the evident divisions among legalization proponents are starting to make for some worried wondering. There are no fewer than 18 legalization initiatives in play (some various versions of the same initiative), most of which have little to no chance of coming up with the 365,000 signatures needed to qualify.

    State activists organized as the California Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (ReformCA) thought they had the support of national reform organizations and associated pots of money for their initiative, but that hasn't turned out to be the case. Instead, groups such as the Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance seem to be throwing their support to an initiative sponsored by tech billionaire Sean Parker.

    Neither the latest version of the ReformCA initiative nor the Sean Parker initiative has been cleared for signature gathering. Both initiatives now face a ticking clock. Campaigns have six months to get those necessary signatures, but the real hard deadline is June 30. Initiatives must have been cleared for the ballot by then in order to make the November ballot.

    The Parker initiative will likely have the financial support to do an expedited signature-gathering campaign; whether ReformCA will remains to be seen. While the state-level polling is good梐 June poll had support at a record 54%--this late disarray doesn't bode well.

    LEGISLATIVE STATES

    Rhode Island. This year, the legislature took up a legalization bill only to see it held for further study by the Judiciary Committees in both chambers. Next year, it could actually move, and it would if the legislature listens to the voters. In an April poll, 57% said they would support a bill to tax and regulate marijuana.

    Vermont. This is probably the best bet for the first state to legalize pot through the legislative process. The groundwork has been being laid for years, it has the support of key state political figures, including Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) and House Speaker Shap Smith (D), and legislative hearings on how not whether to legalize next year are already underway. The legislature failed to move legalization bills this year, but the stage is set for 2016.




    By Phillip Smith - Informationliberation/Nov. 20, 2015
    http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=53168
    Art: 1-Occupy; 2-The Washington Times
    Newshawk Crew

    Author Bio

    Beenthere2Hippie
    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.

Comments

  1. Cwb20022
    Sadly i think itll be years before we see pennsylvania or florida on that list.

    Id settle for new jersey, delaware or new york even.

    My methadone clinic does have a big sign saying this location support the legalize marijai ia movement. And list all the harm reduction reasons.

    Which i was shocked to see.

    Cause i cant get takehomes cause i smoke pot.
  2. perro-salchicha614
    I agree that what happened here in Ohio probably isn't representative of attitudes toward legalization. I think there were a lot of people (like myself) who favor legalization but had a problem with how the initiative was written.
  3. gonzochef
    Cwb, I'm in the same boat with my clinic about smoking weed and not getting to have take homes because of it. They've even told me they don't care and that they don't even test for weed, but that federal oversight dictates that if a patient on mmt is using weed, or anything else illicit for that matter, then they are deemed unqualified for take home doses. Period. Mostly they are just covering their own asses so they don't lose that ever-important funding. I don't agree, but it IS hard to argue with that logic.

    Perro, I think a lot of places are having that very same problem. In the beginning Washington voted down several propositions based on the wording of the proposition rather than the spirit of it. MAny want to legalize marijuana, but often the way the proposed laws are written does not stand up to scrutiny. Look at California! They obviously believe in legal weed, but they can't get a law passed because the laws they keep trying to pass are so worthless as far as the prospective rights of smokers are concerned. What states that are interested in marijuana legislation need to do is write a law that encompasses all the desires of those who wish to legalize and marry that with all the concerns of those who don't. That can be very difficult...
  4. Vater Satan mit uns
    Well, I believe December 18th is the official decriminalization date for Delaware. I cannot wait!
  5. Vater Satan mit uns
    Marijuana decriminalized: What you need to know

    This week, a bill decriminalizing the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana takes effect in Delaware – and with it comes questions. Here is what you need to know:

    When does marijuana decriminalization begin? The law takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday – exactly six months after Gov. Jack Markell signed House Bill 39 into law.

    What does the legislation mean? Anyone 21 and older can possess up to one ounce of leaf marijuana and use the drug privately without facing criminal sanctions. The penalty for possession will be a $100 civil penalty – with no threat of jail time, arrest or a criminal record.

    What if I'm under 21? Marijuana possession will remain a criminal offense for anyone under 18. Anyone between age 18 and 21 will face criminal penalties only if it is his or her second or subsequent offense. In these cases, a person will also be allowed to petition for expungement from his or her record after age 21, as long as no other offenses have been committed.

    Can the police still seize marijuana? Yes. Even when imposing a civil penalty, the police can confiscate the drug.

    Can marijuana be used in public? Marijuana is prohibited in public, including sidewalks, streets, alleys, parking lots, parks, playgrounds, stores and restaurants. It also cannot be used within 10 feet of these areas, and at locations within 10 feet of entrances, exits, windows and ventilation intakes for public or private buildings.

    What if I use marijuana in public? You can be criminally charged with an misdemeanor if you are caught using or possessing marijuana in public or in a vehicle. This is punishable by a fine of no more than $200 and/or imprisonment of no more than five days.

    Is drug paraphernalia also decriminalized? The penalties for drug paraphernalia were also modified. Possessing drug paraphernalia for use in connection with up to an ounce of marijuana is punishable by up to a $100 fine. But anyone charged under the civil penalty for marijuana will not face additional civil penalties for possessing paraphernalia.

    How will the fines be administered? Civil penalties can be charged as an e-ticket, and the offender can elect to pay the fine through the voluntary assessment center. If the person chooses to fight the offense, the case will be tried in the Justice of the Peace Court.

    When will marijuana become legal in Delaware? Legalization is unlikely to occur in 2016 because Markell has said he would not support the measure. But advocates have already launched statewide efforts to push for marijuana legalization in 2017, after his term ends.
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