With marijuana legalization going full steam ahead in Washington and Colorado, it was only a matter of time before other states started to hop on the bandwagon. Today, The New York Times reports that the next states to consider going green may be Alaska and Oregon. It’s an exciting moment for pro-marijuana advocates, but whether or not the trend continues may be largely determined by its fate in these new battlegrounds.
According to opponents of legalization, 2014 is a crucial year to step up efforts to curb the spread of the devil’s oregano:
“We feel that if Oregon or Alaska could be stopped, it would disrupt the whole narrative these groups have that legalization is inevitable,” said Kevin A. Sabet, executive director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which is spearheading much of the effort to stop these initiatives. “We could stop that momentum.”
Though folks like Sabet seems convinced that they can turn things around, it’s hard to imagine the tide changing in their favor. Between relaxing possession laws, medical marijuana initiatives, and full-on recreational legalization, the American public seems intent on pushing toward legal weed:
At least 14 states — including Florida, where an initiative has already qualified for the ballot — are considering new medical marijuana laws this year, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, which supports legalization, and 12 states and the District of Columbia are contemplating decriminalization, in which the drug remains illegal, but the penalties are softened or reduced to fines.
It's also notable that traditional party divides don't seem to apply to pot legalization:
Demonstrating how marijuana is no longer a strictly partisan issue, the two states considered likeliest this year to follow Colorado and Washington in outright legalization of the drug are Oregon, dominated by liberal Democrats, and Alaska, where libertarian Republicans hold sway.
The trend toward legalization isn’t just a product of 4th meal aficionados and Modern Warfare fans. Legal chronic means big money for states that opt in—so big that it’s increasingly hard to say no:
The allure of tax revenues is also becoming a powerful selling point in some states, particularly after Gov. John W. Hickenlooper of Colorado said last week that taxes from legal marijuana sales would be 34 million in the coming fiscal year, much higher than had been predicted when the measure was passed in 2012.
Though money talks louder than just about anything else in U.S. politics, there’s still one stark divide that recreational pot advocates must contended with. Old people, unsurprisingly, still aren’t chill with the reefer.
There were stark differences in the new poll, though. While 72 percent of people under 30 favored legalization, only 29 percent of those over 65 agreed. And while about a third of Republicans now favored legalization, this was far below the 60 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of independents who did so.
Once gramps hops on board, it’s game over for the anti marijuana lobby.
[via The New York Times]