A record high 64% of Americans support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, according to a 2017 Gallup Poll. Support for legalization is rooted in changing perceptions of the drug’s potential harm, as well as the prospect of hundreds of millions of dollars in marijuana sales and excise tax revenue for state governments.
The growing acceptance of marijuana among Americans has also been reflected in the ballot box. Currently, eight states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana. Pro-pot initiatives passed in eight of the nine states in which they made it to the ballot in November 2016. Voters in Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota approved or expanded medical marijuana laws in their states. In Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and California, voters approved recreational pot. Only Arizona’s push for full legalization failed.
> Possession decriminalized: Yes
> Amount decriminalized: 10 g. or less
> Max. fine for 10 g. or less: $200
> Annual adult usage: 12.3% (24th highest)
Few states seem as poised to legalize recreational marijuana use as Illinois. State lawmakers are currently considering legislation in Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353 that would allow adults of legal drinking age in the state to possess, cultivate, and purchase limited amounts of pot. If these bills pass, marijuana sales could add to state coffers an estimated $566 million in excise tax revenue per year and as much as $133 million in sales tax revenue annually.
Currently, possession of certain amounts of marijuana for nonmedical purposes is decriminalized in Illinois. Those caught with 10 grams or less will not face more than a $200 fine. State residents with a range of conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, and Parkinson’s disease, can qualify for a medical cannabis card.
All four states that legalized recreational marijuana in 2016 made 24/7 Wall St.’s list of the next states to legalize pot that same year.
Despite widespread acceptance of the drug, only about 21% of the U.S. population live in states or districts that have legalized recreational pot. In all likelihood, the share will only grow in the coming years.
Though every state to legalize pot so far has done so through ballot initiatives, going forward, states have a variety of options for making pot legal. Predicting which states will be next to legalize requires weighing a range of legal circumstances and cultural conditions. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed marijuana usage rates, existing marijuana laws, and legislative processes in each state to identify the states most likely to legalize pot next.