Support for marijuana has reached a record high, now at 61 percent as of 2019, according to the General Social Survey, a well-known and respected source. In 1995, only 25 percent supported marijuana legalization. Eleven states plus Washington D.C. have already legalized marijuana for recreational use: Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Alaska, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, Michigan, and Illinois. A total of 33 states have legalized weed for medical use. With a big presidential election coming up in 2020, many are wondering what lies in store for marijuana legalization in the rest of the country. Here are some leads on in which states weed legalization seems likely after the 2020 elections.
From a historical standpoint, states that have put marijuana legalization measures on the ballot but failed the first time tend to succeed in legalization by the second time the measure is put forth (see: California and Oregon). That means Arizona and North Dakota are likely to fully legalize in 2020. Additionally, at the legislative level, New York recently attempted to fully legalize marijuana but fell short. If they’re unable to pass a law to legalize marijuana before the 2020 elections, it will be on the New York ballot. Considering the widespread support for recreational legalization in New York, it will probably pass.
Many states pass weed legalization the first time around, and there is a slew of states which may very well achieve that goal in 2020. Most of them already have legal medical marijuana and are now looking for full recreational legalization. With widespread support in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, and Rhode Island, a weed legalization measure will surely be on the 2020 ballot if legislative measures are not already passed before the elections. In states like Florida where support is at 71 percent, how could legalization not come to pass in 2020?
Aside from the growing realization that marijuana is not a dangerous substance, states have plenty to gain from legalizing marijuana from an economic standpoint. For instance, the potential yearly tax revenue from legal marijuana in New York is $435 million. Legalizing in highly populous states like Florida and New York has the potential to impact the nation as a whole, positioning them as markets to rival California’s and meaning that a significant portion of the US population would be existing with weed fully legalized. With so much of the nation living in states with legal recreational use, the federal government would be further pressured to legalize marijuana as well.
Some conservative states like Montana are even getting closer to legalizing weed, and if all goes well, legalization will likely be on the state’s 2020 ballot. Yet other states that aren’t nearly as red, like Wisconsin, don’t even seem close to medical legalization, let alone full recreational. This is the case for Wisconsin even though two of its bordering states, Michigan and Illinois, have fully legalized, while the final bordering state, Minnesota, allows medical and is likely to pass recreational in 2020.
While nothing is set in stone, come the 2020 elections, it seems fairly certain that at least a handful of new states will see marijuana legalized for recreational use. Perhaps the real question is, how many more states will it take before the federal government takes the hint?