There’s a lot of talk in marijuana circles about what states are most likely to legalize next (or at least sometime soon). We give an approving nod towards the likes of New Jersey as it passes us in the school hall; we know it’s on our team.
Other states, however, are resistant to progress – no matter how much of the nation legalizes weed, they stand in staunch resistance, all but screaming “Hell no we won’t grow” in protest.
So, what are the states least likely to legalize? They include:
Ah, Alabama! It’s no surprise that the state that gave us Jeff Sessions isn’t in love with the leaf. There are a few reasons they’re not likely to jump on the cannabis bandwagon. First of all, not a lot of people in this state use marijuana; less than ten percent of people over twelve smoke it (or, to be fair, admit to smoking it). The state also has costly penalties for those caught in possession and virtually no political support for legalization. They don’t even want to improve a medical marijuana program.
Utah might touch Colorado, but it’s not culturally on the same level. Even some amounts of possession are enough to warrant felony charges; get caught selling, and you could be looking at a decade in the slammer. Utah, like Alabama, is not home to many pot smokers either; only around eight percent of the population imbibes. Likely a reflection of their religious base, Utah also has the lowest percentage of drinkers in the nation.
All that open land in Wyoming? Think of the grow houses that could be built! It’s, alas, a pipe dream – Wyoming isn’t budging on the cannabis front. They have severe penalties for possession and distribution and they don’t seem to be aware – or at least care – about the progress going on in their neighboring state of Colorado. Wyoming politicians squashed a bill that would have decriminalized pot possession and Wyoming law enforcement regularly reminds Colorado residents not to bring the likes of Mary Jane into their territory.
Arkansas has a bit of a softer stance on marijuana than many of the states on this list – their voter initiative process means that marijuana might be on the docket sometime soon. But full legalization is a stretch. Arkansas isn’t known for its progressive nature when it comes to anything like this – it is a state with many, many dry counties that don’t even allow for the sale of alcohol. However, the opioid crisis is hitting this state hard and some are looking to weed to act as a saving grace.
You can get plenty of Georgia peaches, but don’t expect any Orange Bud – this state isn’t likely to open its arms to the leaf anytime in the near future (if at all). They do allow medical marijuana….sort of. They approved a measure allowing citizens to take non-psychoactive cannabis oil but they don’t allow the manufacture or sale of this oil inside state lines. That forces people to seek it out of state, something that directly violates federal law if they bring it back. Georgia also has a penchant for arresting people for marijuana-related crimes – the state averages 309 arrests per 100,000 people, well above the nationwide average of 239 per 100,000 people.
What did we learn from this list? Just because you’re next to Colorado, that doesn’t mean you’re on the same page. Nebraska, like Utah and Wyoming, may hold hands with the Centennial State, but they won’t party with us. In fact, Nebraska is a big ol’ party pooper – they’ve joined forces with Oklahoma in an attempt to stop Colorado’s recreational legalization. They argue that Colorado’s legalization increases their black market and makes it harder for them to enforce pot prohibition. They’re probably correct, but the whole state’s rights thing makes it difficult for them to have say in what Colorado does. To quote our state flag, “Neener, neener, neener.”
South Dakota doesn’t fool around when it comes to punishing people for marijuana. They are especially heavy on the hash – possess any amount and you could spend five years in prison. Get caught selling any amount over a pound, and you could end up behind bars for 25 years. The vast majority of the United States approve of legalized marijuana on some level (medical marijuana has near-universal approval). But those in South Dakota don’t. Guess they didn’t get the memo.
In Idaho, it’s illegal to be high in public. This is different from most other areas where it’s only illegal to consume in public. Idahoans are extremely closed-minded when it comes to weed – the majority opposes medical marijuana and, in 2015, their governor vetoed a bill that would have legalized CBD for seriously ill citizens (ya know, the cannabinoid with NO psychoactive effects). Even first-time offenders can be tossed in jail if caught possessing. With California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington all legalizing recreational weed, Northern Idaho is the only place in the Pacific Time Zone where weed is illegal (the rest of Idaho is in the Mountain Time Zone). That’s right, PTZ is down with THC!
As of right now, recreational weed remains more illegal than legal across the United States (though the opposite is true for medicinal weed) and the above states will likely be hard to convince (you too, Tennessee). But time will tell how long they’ll truly be able to hold out. It may get to the point where if you can’t beat them, then “joint” them.