These States Are Most Likely to Legalize Pot Next
Attorney General Eric Holder gave a green light on Thursday to two states whose efforts to legalize marijuana had been locked in by legal uncertainty for more than nine months. With that announcement, Colorado and Washington — both of which passed pro-pot initiatives at the polls last November — can now proceed with establishing a framework for the taxation and regulation of legal weed for adults.
The administration’s decision holds clear and immediate implications for the two states, both of which had been hesitant to act too quickly over concerns that the government might decide to enforce federal law, which still considers marijuana an illegal substance.
But the move also, and perhaps more importantly, throws open the gates for other states to pursue similar pot legalization efforts, so long as they include “strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems.” Experts on both sides of the issue have already said they expect to see movement come quickly.
A similar pattern held for medical marijuana. The movement made steady progress up until 2009, when the Obama administration announced it would allow states to implement medical pot laws without federal interference. That promise turned out to be heavily footnoted, but the pledge itself ushered in a flood of ballot and legislative activity that burst the medical marijuana dam over the next four years. Thursday’s announcement can be expected to do the same.