It was a big year for pot in 2017: For the first time, a majority of Americans said it should be legalized, four state ballot initiatives passed and startups pounced on California’s approval of recreational use. The year ahead portends legalization in three states, and the first pro-pot initiatives enacted by lawmakers instead of voter referendums.
In Vermont, the House and Senate are preparing to legalize marijuana after the government reconvenes on January 3, Forbes reports. The Senate has already passed a bill the governor says he will sign; House approval looks likely. Possessing small amounts will be legalized, along with small-batch home cultivation. Commercial sales won’t yet be allowed, but a commission will be organized to explore the possibility.
New Jersey’s newly elected Democratic governor, Phil Murphy, campaigned on a pro-legalization platform and said he wants to pass a bill in 2018. The state Senate is considering a bill whose sponsor wants to deliver it to the governor’s desk in the first 100 days of his administration.
In Michigan, it’s likely a legalization measure will be put before voters in the November election. A majority of residents back legalization: 58%, to 36% opposed. Virginia’s newly elected governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, favors decriminalization, which has attracted bipartisan support: the Republican Senate Majority leader says he will bring a decriminalization to the floor in 2018.
Meanwhile, medical marjiuana initiatives may find their way to state elections in Oklahoma, Utah and Missouri, where a solid majority of residents approve of pot’s medical use.
Recreational use of marijuana is legal in California as of Jan. 1. The public’s approval of legal marijuana has grown sharply, with 64% of Americans saying that pot should be legal in an October poll by Gallup — the first time a majority held that view. Although Donald Trump said he supported medical marijuana as a presidential candidate, his attorney general Jeff Sessions is a hardline opponent. Sessions wants to be able to prosecute medical marijuana use, even though 94 percent of Americans support it, and 29 states have legalized it.