These 5 States May Legalize Cannabis This Week

We may see a green wave occur in the U.S. in the coming week, as several marijuana legalization initiatives are decided upon.

While it looks like New Zealand won't be legalizing recreational marijuana this year, there's still a lot of opportunity over in the U.S. for serious gains to be made on the cannabis front.

Occurring alongside the November election, in which the United States will decide if they keep Donald Trump as President or instead choose Joe Biden, five states will be voting on differing cannabis initiatives.


After the rejection of Arizona's proposition 205 in November 2016, which narrowly lost with just 49% supporting it, The Arizonan Dispensaries Association has a marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot for this year.

Known as both the 'Smart and Safe Act' and 'Prop 207,' the new initiative, if passed, would legalize adult-use cannabis in Arizona.

In July, the Smart & Safe Initiative had received over 420,000 signatures, nearly double the necessary 237,645 signatures required.

recent poll by Monmouth University also revealed that the ballot should receive a slight majority of the votes, meaning that Arizona could very well become the 12th U.S. State to legalize adult-use cannabis.


In Mississipi, citizens will vote upon potentially legalizing medical marijuana in the state, which would make Mississipi the 34th U.S. state to have done so. The cannabis question that will be on the November ballot is as follows:

'Should Mississippi allow qualified patients with debilitating medical conditions, as certified by Mississippi licensed physicians, to use medical marijuana?'

Despite being a red, or Republican state (which traditionally means being more reticent toward cannabis legalization), recent polling data shows that nearly eight-out-of-ten Mississipi voters support legalizing medical marijuana. Should the ballot go ahead unimpeded, it's looking like Mississipi will have legalized medical marijuana by the end of November.


Montana has two marijuana ballot initiatives coming up, thanks to a campaign led by New Approach Montana.

The first statutory initiative seeks to legalize cannabis use for adults over the age of 21, in addition to facilitating a legal marijuana market.

The second initiative is a constitutional amendment that would make the legal minimum age for marijuana use at 21.

The ballot measures required 25,000 valid signatures from registered voters in order to qualify the statutory initiative and 51,000 signatures for the constitutional proposal to implement age restrictions.

As of August 13th, after collecting over 130,000 signatures, the Montana Secretary of State announced that the campaign had submitted enough signatures to qualify both initiatives for the ballot.

However, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana, Kurt Alme, recently released a statement prompting citizens to re-evaluate the consequences of marijuana legalization.

New Jersey

New Jersey's upcoming marijuana legalization ballot seeks to amend the state's Constitution to allow for the possession, production, and retail sale of cannabis to those aged 21 and above. Early polling data from Monmouth University suggests that the measure should be passed, given that 61% of respondents said that they would support the marijuana legalization initiative.

The ballot question to push for the legalization of cannabis in New Jersey is as follows: "Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called 'cannabis'? Only adults at least 21 years of age could use cannabis. The State commission created to oversee the State's medical cannabis program would also oversee the new, personal use cannabis market. Cannabis products would be subject to the State sales tax. If authorized by the Legislature, a municipality may pass a local ordinance to charge a local tax on cannabis products."

Monmouth's poll revealed that New Jersey's marijuana legalization efforts were most supported by Democratic voters, of which 74% were in favor of the bill, and Independents, with 64%. Only 40% of Republican voters supported the bill.

Additionally, the "yes' vote is currently at an almost three-to-one lead—according to a recent commission poll from law firm Brach Eichler LLC—over citizens who would prefer to see cannabis remain illegal.

Should the bill pass in New Jersey's November ballot, New Jersey would join the other eleven U.S. states that have legalized cannabis for recreational consumption, with Illinois being the most recent example.

South Dakota

Lastly, is South Dakota, where there will be two marijuana initiatives on the November ballot. One, named Initiated Measure 26 which will decide if voters wish to legalize medicinal marijuana, and a second, named Constitutional Amendment A, which will decide if voters wish to legalize recreational marijuana.

While there isn't yet polling data on the general attitudes of South Dakotans on cannabis legalization, the fact that these initiatives made it onto the ballot means they had to surpass the signature threshold, which in this case was upwards of 30,000 signatures.

There are some factors working against the State, however, given that South Dakota is considered a "deep-red" state, and that the state has previously rejected two prior medical marijuana initiatives.

A Green Wave?

Over the coming few weeks there is the very real potential for a wave of marijuana legalization to sweep across the U.S., regardless of whether Trump or Biden wins the upcoming election. Despite unfortunate preliminary results in New Zealand, the cannabis momentum may very well snowball at this tail-end of 2020, and well into 2021.

And, as we demonstrated earlier, it looks like many of these marijuana legalization initiatives are poised to be passed, meaning that at least some marijuana legalization will be taking place soon.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.

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