This year has been a banner one for weed wins, with California, Massachusetts, and Nevada approving recreational marijuana initiatives on Election Night. As pop culture and public opinion shift pot consumption into a more positive—or at least, less overtly propagandist—light, the majority of U.S. adults say they believe marijuana should be made legal. But for those who don’t believe people should spend their lives in jail over a plant, there’s still more progress to be made. We checked out the Marijuana Policy Project’s policy map to find the 18 worst states for stoners, from Draconian marijuana legislation to disproportionate punishment for tokers based on race:
Last year, Idaho Legislature approved a bill that would have protected its seriously ill residents from being convicted for possessing medical marijuana oils with very low amounts of THC. Unfortunately, Gov. Butch Otter vetoed the bill.
Under current Idaho law, an individual charged with possession of up to an ounce of marijuana faces a year in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine … According to the ACLU, black Idahoans are over two and half times more likely to be arrested for possession than their white neighbors.
3. South Dakota
South Dakota has some of the nation’s harshest marijuana laws, with possession of just a small amount carrying a potential penalty of one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Additionally, possession of any amount of hash or concentrates is “a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.”
Even more alarmingly, individuals who have consumed marijuana elsewhere are also subject to this penalty if they test positive for past use—even if they consumed marijuana in a state where it was legal. South Dakota appears to be the only state with such an “internal possession” law.
The ACLU found that South Dakota was among the top 10 states for racial disparity in marijuana possession arrest rates. Despite people of all races using marijuana at very similar rates, black people in South Dakota are nearly 4.8 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Under current Utah law, possession of as little as an ounce or less of marijuana can result in a six-month jail sentence. Unfortunately, minority and low-income communities in Utah are disproportionately the ones who face these archaic penalties. The ACLU recently found that black Utahans are more than 3.75 times as likely to get arrested for marijuana possession as their white neighbors.
This year, there was legislation introduced to legalize marijuana, but that bill and other proposals failed to pass through the committee process. Currently, an individual in Wisconsin convicted of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana faces a sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
An October 2016 poll found that 73% of Indiana voters support creating a medical marijuana program in the state, but the Indiana General Assembly concluded its 2016 session without making progress on a single marijuana bill.
Indiana has some of the most Draconian marijuana penalties in the country. Possession of even a single joint is punishable by up to a year of incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000. Sadly, almost 90% of all reported burglaries, including home invasions, and over 85% of all motor vehicle thefts go unsolved, according to the state-based reports from Indiana state law enforcement to the FBI for the year 2012. During the same year, law enforcement devoted valuable time and resources to either arresting or citing over 9,000 individuals for marijuana-related offenses, 86% of which were for possession.
African Americans often bear the brunt of unfair enforcement of marijuana prohibition policies, and in Indiana, they’re over three times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than their white counterparts.
Third and subsequent convictions for the possession of marijuana used to be felonies, punishable by one to six years in prison and a fine of up to $3,000. But in 2016, the Tennessee legislature reduced that penalty to a misdemeanor, so people convicted of non-violent possession of most drugs will no longer suffer the stigma of a life-long felony record.