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The Next 14 States to Legalize Marijuana

1. Arizona
> Possession decriminalized: No
> Amount decriminalized: N/A
> Max. fine for less than 2 lbs: $150,000
> Pct. adults using in past year: 13.5%

Currently, penalties for marijuana possession in Arizona are among the most severe in the country. Arizona is the only state where a person possessing any amount of marijuana can face felony charges. In addition, possession can lead to a two-year prison sentence and up to a $150,000 fine.

Despite the draconian laws, Arizona may well be the next state to legalize recreational marijuana. State voters submitted more than enough petition signatures to the Secretary of State in late June to include a measure on the ballot in November to end marijuana prohibition and effectively regulate the drug like alcohol. If passed, the provision would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. A report released by the state’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimates that legalizing marijuana would generate $82 million in additional tax revenue annually.

2. California
> Possession decriminalized: Yes
> Amount decriminalized: 28.5 g or less
> Max. fine for 28.5 g or less: $100
> Pct. adults using in past year: 14.4%

California voters have said no to legalizing recreational marijuana use multiple times. First in 1972, and again, by a much slimmer margin, in 2010. This year may be different, however. California is one of five ballot initiative states where voters will be given the opportunity to overturn marijuana prohibition. Proposition 64, commonly referred to as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana. Proponents say the proposition will save state and local governments tens of millions of dollars in enforcement of marijuana laws and potentially bring in more than a billion dollars in additional tax revenue annually. One recent poll suggests Proposition 64 will easily pass.

Despite some early defeats for marijuana reform groups, the state has historically had a relatively progressive attitude towards pot. State residents voted to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, and in October 2010, then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger decriminalized possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

3. Connecticut
> Possession decriminalized: Yes
> Amount decriminalized: Less than 1/2 oz
> Max. fine for less than 1/2 oz: $150
> Pct. adults using in past year: 13.8%

A group of Connecticut state representatives introduced in February 2016 House Bill 5236. If passed, the bill would legalize, regulate, and tax retail marijuana sales. While the bill is not expected to pass this year, Connecticut could potentially be the first non-ballot initiative state in the country to legalize recreational marijuana use.

Connecticut’s existing marijuana laws are among the most progressive in the country. Since 2011, individuals caught with less than half an ounce of pot, including repeat offenders, have not faced criminal charges or jail time. Like close to half of all states, Connecticut allows medical marijuana use for patients with certain conditions.

4. Delaware
> Possession decriminalized: Yes
> Amount decriminalized: Up to 1 oz
> Max. fine for up to 1 oz: $100
> Pct. adults using in past year: 13.9%

Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed in June of last year a bill decriminalizing the possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana. The law took effect in December, marking a major milestone in the state’s path towards legalization of the drug.

Markell has in the past publicly opposed full legalization, however. His gubernatorial term ends next January. Of the three candidates running for the office, Republican Colin Bonini supports legalizing, while Republican Lacey Lafferty strongly opposes the drug, and Democratic frontrunner John Carney is undecided on the issue. Currently, possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana is punishable by a maximum fine of $100.

5. Illinois
> Possession decriminalized: Yes
> Amount decriminalized: 10 g or less
> Max. fine for 10 g or less: $200
> Pct. adults using in past year: 12.2%

Illinois is one of the most recent additions to the growing list of states to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed in July 2016 Senate Bill 2228 into law, removing criminal charges and jail time for anyone caught with 10 grams of pot or less. Earlier in...


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