The year 2016 is shaping up to be the “Year of Cannabis Legalization.” The influential Marijuana Policy Project is targeting 5 states for legalization attempts next year after their success in the states of Colorado in 2012 and Alaska in 2014.
MPP is in a battle in Maine – in-fighting among cannabis activists, imagine that – in its attempt to get legalization on the ballot in the Pine Tree State. Locals want control of the signature gathering and accuse MPP of not working with them on a compromise. For its part, MPP says the group Legalize Maine doesn’t really want to work with them, they just want it done their way.
Speaking of battles, MPP is part of a very crowded field in California that is trying to get recreational legalization on the 2016 ballot. Time will tell whether all the disparate groups in the state can get together and finally get recreational legalization before the voters again.
Massachusetts, Nevada and Arizona are also in the MPP crosshairs for 2016, with Arizona shaping up to be a major fight. Medical marijuana barely passed in the state in 2012 and as many may know, Arizona is not exactly famous for embracing new and different things. So far MPP has collected about 60,000 of the 150,000 signatures needed to get the measure on the ballot.
Could there be (counting Ohio this year) 10 states with legal recreational weed by 2017? It is certainly possible, although the odds are that at least some of the states will see failure the first time around, as California did in 2010 and Oregon did in 2012.
In the end, however, every attempt at legalization furthers the process and advances education when it comes to cannabis. It is easy for those of us who follow cannabis news every day to forget that many voters haven’t even looked into the issue yet. Ballot measures have a way of putting issues right into the face of voters.