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The Next Seven States to Legalize Marijuana?
The Rolling Stone map marks medical marijuana states with a leaf/red cross icon, medical marijuana states they judge as likely to legalize with a smaller icon and green check mark, and Washington and Colorado with a leaf and smiley face.
Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson continues his coverage of marijuana legalization with a not unjustifiably optimistic article, "The Next Seven States to Legalize Pot." Dickinson's predictions: Oregon, California, Nevada, Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont, and Alaska. Some of the states are more intuitively obvious than others, such as California, and even Oregon despite the loss. But Dickinson offers reasonable reasons to be hopeful about the others.

Oregon's Measure 80 is an interesting case. While it was reported as losing 45-55, the pro total actually crept up to 46.3% when all the returns were finally counted. This was with virtually no funding, though perhaps benefiting from discussion of the issue in neighboring Washington, and with language that was far more radical in most respects than either Washington's or Colorado's measures. With a better-written initiative and the funding that would likely attract, and with legalization happening next door as Dickinson pointed out, Oregon could be a winner soon -- if not 2014 and the expected more conservative turnout expected in an off year election, then in 2016.

Also interesting about Oregon, is that I thought the loss there while two other states passed would settle the debate over how to write an initiative -- whether to poll and do focus groups and write one that the research says can pass, or to just go for broke with the language you like -- the two initiatives that did the former won, the one that did the latter lost. But given how well Measure 80 did despite having no funding has some activists including a number of friends of mine saying that we don't have to compromise, or compromise as much, in order to win. If the funds come on board, the money and the real campaign it would enable could make up those 3.7 percentage points, is the reasoning.

I don't believe the money would make up those percentage points. I believe it is more likely that there is a swath of voters who agree with legalization in principle, but are picky about what kind of initiative they would approve, and that initiatives written the right way for them (or for the opinion leaders they take seriously like the former law enforcement and others who supported Washington's I-502) probably swung a significant percentage of voters. I think that Oregon was a special case, because of what was happening at the same time in Washington. And I think that a real campaign in Oregon, would have resulted in a greater amount of discussion about the details of the Oregon initiative (especially if polls suggested it had a chance), increasing the negative impact that certain aspects of it would have had on the aforementioned picky legalization supporters.

But do I know that for sure? No. Oregon's vote should certainly be studied to see what can be learned. So should Colorado's, a system that is pretty different from and a lot more open than Washington's. (At a Cato forum last week, former DEA chief Asa Hutchinson scarcely even mentioned Washington.)

One way or another, it is very likely that a page of history turned last month. Whether as many as seven states will go for legalization in the next few years, or whether Rolling Stone has called all the right ones, only time can tell. But the optimism is certainly appropriate -- time is on the side of marijuana legalization, and I hope for overall drug reform as well.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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They left out New Mexico


Medical marijuana is also legal in New Mexico.  While it is unlikely to become fully decriminalized under the current governor, there is some exploration underway of advancing legislation.

There is blood in the

There is blood in the water,,and the sharks are circling the bait. Politicians smell possible tax revenue for something they're states have been spending millions imprisoning people for with little to no success and the only predictable future is that enforcement costs will continue to climb.

Here is an opportunity to reduce spending and raise tax revenue in one move.

In any state that has a ballot initiative available the legislators,who have refused to even discuss reform or ignored bills before them now have to decide if they initiate a legislated law on marijuana or wait for voters to establish policy in the next election. Being the control freaks politicians are,,do they want to write the law guaranteeing their control of the situation or chance voters initiatives giving them the control they want?

I predict 3 or more state legislatures will have bills actually debated on the floor instead of locked down and  ignored in committee in 2013. The more of them that successfully pass legalization bills,the more that will attempt it in 2014. The dominoes are wobbling.

Politicians smell

Politicians smell OPPORTUNITY... for getting involved with commercial interests, setting regulation to assure winners and losers.

Lets face it, as long as there is an avenue to self advancement in their financial well being, politicians trip over them selves in the rush to promote an item or agenda.

At times, I wonder if that is what should be put out there by the States and the Voters. Not just the idea of 'Tax collections" , because as far as the average Politician, tax discussion is for the consumption of the masses.

Where real work gets done in setting up something, is in that self advancement.. so why beat around the bush. Come right and promote 'first come first served'. More lobby money than ever would be known, would be thrown at the Politicians, assuring a rapid transition. Heck, it could start a new paradigm in governing... if it was openly the normal manner. Why have all the back door secret arraignments scenario that goes on now, continue to slow the process of an Individual State or at the Federal level, keep politicians from making money quickly, the old fashioned way, grab as much as they can!

So, let your State reps understand, they are holding up the filling of their pockets, with some REAL dough. The kind of money that only happens when getting in on the ground floor, like when For Profit Prisons started up or the vast expansion of the Drug War/DEA.

We should also consider, we can ill afford for there to be a MJ gap with other countries. To think otherwise should be considered unAmerican. The Industry would provide huge sums to Wall Street as they sold Offerings backed by Bonds and selling Credit Default swaps which the revenues could be pocketed, as standard. Where's JP Morgan on this? Do they wish to have an unfair advantage in the Foreign  Markets? Doesn't Bank of America and Wells Fargo realize washing drug money could be replaced by open markets in MJ and Hemp? Get Goldman Sachs, Obama's boss, on the phone!

It's time the Politicians fully understand the opportunity they are missing, even if they already realize the opportunities by supporting 50 Billion dollar a year Drug war. We need more Politicians taking money from BOTH... sides, Drug War proponents and those wishing to monetize a commercial product. After all , the Politicians can hardly get ahead in these times.


To compromise, or not...

To compromise, or not to compromise. That is the question. Perhaps the lesson to learn from Arizona is that when mj laws pass with a narrow margin they are far more likely to be challenged and implementing them will be more of a struggle. Alternatively, WA's initiative will most likely not be challenged (the fed notwithstanding), and implementation from this standpoint should be a breeze. Although funding and language were significant factors, fascinating that legalization didn't fall according to liberal/conservative lines. Bipartisan support is far greater than the press would have us believe.

Does Colorado hold a lesson about compromise?

They were able to pass a constitutional amendment including the critical right to grow your own with the same 10% margin as Washington did with a more restrictive initiative. They placed greater emphasis on the "marijuana is safer than alcohol" argument than WA did. Maybe that argument has more potency than some reformers realize?

I'm surprised Massachusetts

I'm surprised Massachusetts got snubbed. Our state has consistently favored marijuana initiatives -- the main problem for full legalization is that every initiative that passed for that was non-binding. 

I also don't recall any such initiative failing to pass. I think the non-binding initiatives may have failed in one or two counties (only to be passed by all the others). MMJ passed easily, as did decrim. We even has a legalization bill in the legislature -- only for it to be put into study due to the conflicts with federal law.

It might not be immediately, but I bet you if there is any changes to federal law in the next Congressional session, MA will dust off that bill and at least talk about it. The core problem they had was the conflict with federal law, so if you remove that... well, who knows, right?


Massachusetts is a fascinating state that often gets overlooked. Lets not forget the immense political influence of MA over the fed: Romney, Kerry, The Kennedies, Obama's healthcare which was modeled after that of MA... Legalization in MA could really have enormous influence in with the fed!

we need marijuana leagalized

we need marijuana leagalized for so many reasons,mentally & medically..we need to get Wisconsin on this list


We need to learn to spell "legalized" if we're to be taken seriously when we vote for it....

Any way you spell it.

Leegulized is good enough for me.

good inst?

good inst?


What is behind the

What is behind the legalization of marijuana??? In the two states that legalized it this past November, that was the will of the voters - the will of the people. The majority voted in favor of legalization and the state govts are following that as they have been instructed by their voters. And in Washington state (and maybe Colorado too) this was from the same electorate that elected Obama. So the opponents can't say that the voters knowingly elected Obama but they didn't know what they were doing by legalizing cannabis. That doesn't fly. Anyway, the attitude about cannabis here is well tempered as medical marijuana has been legal here, with many dispensaries everywhere with seemingly few problems or complaints, for many years now. Actually legalizing wasn't that big a deal really although what they're trying to do with setting up state approved and controlled infrastructure so they can tax it probably at the (many) point(s) of sale just like they do with wine, beer & spirits in this state, is gonna be a BIG undertaking. The Governor of Washington state Jay Insley has said he's going to continue talking to the feds about all of this and so far they at least seem to be listening not only to him but to the will of the people here too. And there's been no federal raids on anything related to state approved medical marijuana on the west side of the state since the election but that's not so in California and Oregon both places that aren't really "legal" and have activist & right winged US Attorneys. Not so in Seattle. They've held 5 meetings at various locations around the state put on by the state liquor board people who are the one's that will implement and run the future program. And every one of those meetings has had packed rooms with overflow crowds with a brisk comment and suggestion periods and all have been very well received and have been reported by all the local Seattle & Spokane media. It's pleasantly surprising that things here are....progressing and as long as the federal boogy man stays in his cave in the other Washington, who knows??  This thing MAY work!


While we're mentioned, they fail to talk about, at all, LD 1229, which is being voted on for state ballot this year. What is LD 1229? Why the complete legalization/taxation of cannabis in Maine of course.

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