Recreational marijuana use is now legal in many states and the District of Columbia, and more Americans are using cannabis than ever.
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But that doesn’t mean every state is on the fast track to legalization. While 25 states and D.C. allow marijuana use in some form (mostly medical), many others flat out refuse to embrace it.
Here are six states that will likely be among the last to legalize marijuana, if they legalize it at all.
Two medical marijuana issues have already appeared on Arkansas residents’ ballots for election, neither passed. And if history is any indication, both will be difficult to pass into the future.
Voters have rejected medical marijuana initiatives in several past elections. And marijuana use in any form has many opponents in the Natural State, including Governor Asa Hutchinson and Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin (both Republicans), the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, and the Arkansas Farm Bureau.
Keep in mind, alcohol isn’t even sold statewide in Arkansas. So it’ll probably be a very, very long time before residents and state leaders feel comfortable with marijuana use.
In April 2015, Georgia’s Republican governor, Nathan Deal, signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana — with a catch. While the use of cannabis oil (with very low levels of THC) is allowed for treatment of certain conditions, marijuana cultivation is still illegal in Georgia, which means patients must violate both state and federal law if they travel across state lines to get the plant.
Currently, the Peach State has some of the nation’s harshest punishments for marijuana possession, per CheatSheet.
CheatSheet points out that Idaho is bordered by Oregon and Washington, both of which have legalized recreational marijuana use. But those states’ laws and beliefs haven’t influenced their neighbor.
A poll in the Gem State showed 53 percent of residents “strongly oppose” legalization, while only 17 percent “strongly support” it. And Idaho’s overwhelmingly Republican legislation will likely keep cannabis amendments off ballots for the foreseeable future; only 19 percent of the state’s Republicans support legalizing marijuana.
In fact, Nebraska joined forces with Oklahoma in 2014 to sue Colorado, arguing that the latter’s marijuana law “is directly counter to federal policy against trafficking in controlled substances.” (The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit in March 2016.) So it goes without saying — Nebraska’s legislation is definitely against marijuana use.
And while we’re talking about the lawsuit…
As of early October 2016, Oklahoma voters will have the ability to decide on a medical marijuana amendment — but likely not until the 2018 election.
In the meantime, residents of the Sooner State face the nation’s toughest cannabis laws, including the possibility of serving life in prison for selling just one dime bag.
A poll of more than 1,500 residents of the Volunteer State found that only 32 percent believe recreational marijuana use should be legal. And a first-time possession conviction in Tennessee can come with a hefty sentence, such as a year in jail.
However, the tide may be turning. The cities of Memphis and Nashville recently voted to lessen punishments for people caught with small amounts of marijuana. Perhaps these are signs of things to come.