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What States are Most Likely to Go Legal This Year?

It was big news when California legalized medical marijuana back in 1996 but at the time, it still looked as though recreational marijuana would never happen in the United States. Then, in 2014, Colorado and Washington both legalized marijuana for recreational purposes and in 2016, four more states followed suit. Now, it looks like 2018 may be the year that legal weed blazes across much of the country, as a number of states are either ready to go ahead with legislation, or take it to the voters.

States Most Likely to Bring in Legal Weed Legislation


Vermont was actually ready to go ahead with legislation for legal weed in 2017, but Republican Governor Phil Scott vetoed the initiative. Believing there needed to be more study around the topic, he created a bipartisan commission to study issues surrounding legalization, such as how it would affect drivers on the roads and how officers could pick up on signs of impairment, just as they can with alcohol. One of the issues considered was also the impact legalization would have on other substance abuse issues, such as the current opioid epidemic hitting the country.


It wasn’t until late in the year, December 2017, that Scott agreed that making weed legal for both medical and recreational purposes would be good for the state. Currently, the proposed laws would be very similar to those in other states that have already made weed legal. Adults would be allowed to carry up to one ounce of cannabis on them, and would be allowed under law to grow up to two mature plants. Should citizens want to carry or grow more, or otherwise go against the proposed laws, they would be facing a steep fine or even jail time up to three years.

While Vermont is following legislation in other states, they are different in the way that they plan to unroll the changing legislation. Unlike taking it to voters, something every other state has done at this point, it will be the lawmakers of Vermont making the decision and by simply passing a bill, Vermont could see legal weed this year.


New Jersey

The biggest obstacle in New Jersey’s fight for legal weed was former governor Chris Christie. It was this fact that Governor-elect Phil Murphy used so widely in his campaign, promising that legal weed would be new legislation unveiled in his first 100 days in office.

During his campaign, Murphy stated that social injustice was prevalent throughout New Jersey, with the state setting a record for arrests relating to marijuana possession. At the time, Murphy stated that legalizing cannabis was one way to correct the problem. Getting the law passed may not be that difficult, as the Democrat Governor-elect is waiting on a proposed bill from the Democratic-led Legislature.

That bill is likely to include provisions for the sale of cannabis, including legalizing it only for adults over the age of 21, and creating a system for cannabis distribution. This also means that should the bill be signed, New Jersey would follow in Vermont’s footsteps by creating legalization for weed instead of putting the issue on a voter ballot.



Michigan is taking strides for passing legal weed laws, but this state is currently not as close as Vermont or New Jersey in doing so. While there’s little word on what the Legislature thinks about the measures, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is currently collecting signatures to have the issue placed on the Michigan’s November ballot.

In order for the petition to be approved 252,000 signatures would be required and advocates are currently waiting to hear back from the Secretary of State’s office on whether or not they had met that goal. It seems they may be close though, as in November of 2017 they had 360,000 signatures submitted.

Should the measure be placed on the ballot and the public votes in favor of it, Michigan would be one of the states to legalize recreational weed.



Like Michigan, Delaware is investigating the possibility of legalizing weed and the effects legislation would have on the public. While it seemed that the state was close to legalization in 2017, the initiative was shot down by the House of Representatives. Since that time, a panel made up of 25 lawmakers deemed the Adult Use Cannabis Task Force, have been evaluating the many impacts that would be felt after legalization.

Unlike Michigan however, ballot initiatives are not a part of Delaware’s landscape so if the law was to be passed, it would be done through the Legislature.


Rhode Islandmarijuana-from-a-jar

Rhode Island seems to be under a bit of pressure as surrounding states, including Maine and Massachusetts, are looking at their own legalization bills to be passed. Like Delaware, Rhode Island has had a task force in place studying the impacts of opening a market for weed since 2017. That task force is expected to release their recommendations this month, but even if laws are passed, the market will look very different than that of California or Colorado.

This is because the law will likely not include the passing of recreational cannabis but instead, will simply decriminalize possession of small amounts of weed. The bill in Rhode Island is expected to be passed in July of 2018, before dispensaries and shops start to open in the nearby states.

With these states being just five throughout the country that are looking at legalizing cannabis, there are plenty more. It seems that after just one or two states legalized both medical and recreational cannabis, other states started quickly catching on. And the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. Should legislatures continue the way they have been in recent years, it likely won’t be long before states with legalized weed outnumber the amount of states where it will still be considered illegal.

MSNL Team / 18th January 2018

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One thought on “What States are Most Likely to Go Legal This Year?”

  • Joshua

    Please let's not forget about Oklahoma. As we have fought for 3 years to get medical cannabis to the voters. Now Gov Mary Fallon has set a very early election date for June 26 2018. This is the only shot we have of getting any reform in Oklahoma. Short of a full federal reversal of prohibition.

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