Special Report

11 States Least Likely to Legalize Marijuana

1. Alabama
> Max. fine for small amount:
>Marijuana related arrests in 2012: 3,600
>Marijuana arrests per 100,000: 74.7
>Minimum penalty classification: Misdemeanor

Marijuana use among Alabama residents is relatively rare. Roughly 9.7% of residents 12 years and older report using the drug, one of the lowest usage rates among all states and significantly lower than the national usage rate of 12.3%. Low useage may be the result of steep legal penalties for possession. Even after a reduction in the severity of the penalties earlier this year, second time offenders caught with any amount of marijuana face felony charges and up to five years incarceration.

Not all marijuana legislation introduced to the state legislature this year was signed into law. The senate killed a bill that would have established a medicinal marijuana program. With harsh possession penalties, low usage rates, and a demonstrable lack of political support, Alabama is among the least likely states to legalize marijuana in the near future.

2. Arkansas
> Max. fine for small amount:
>Marijuana related arrests in 2012: 5,892
>Marijuana arrests per 100,000: 199.8
>Minimum penalty classification: Misdemeanor

Arkansas has a voter initiative process, and as Tvert explained, this could put progressive marijuana reform on the table in the near future. However, the state is still an unlikely place for full legalization. In 2012, voters in Arkansas did not pass a measure that would have allowed seriously ill residents to use medicinal marijuana without fear of legal repercussion. Two years later, after falling short by about 11,500 signatures of the 62,507 required, a proposal to legalize recreational use of the drug failed to even make it on the ballot. having a A reluctance to legalize marijuana in Arkansas may not be especially surprising as nearly half of all counties in the state ban alcohol sales.

Possession of four ounces or more in Arkansas is a felony punishable by up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Second time offenders in Arkansas will face felony charges for possession of as little as a single ounce. Prosecuting and arresting marijuana offenders is a strain on state resources. There were 5,324 arrests in 2012 for marijuana possession alone. According to the MPP, 91% of burglaries in the state and more than 90% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved in the same year, an indication resources allocated to crimes relating to marijuana may be better used elsewhere.

3. Georgia
> Max. fine for small amount:
>Marijuana related arrests in 2012: 30,611
>Marijuana arrests per 100,000: 308.6
>Minimum penalty classification: Misdemeanor

Despite recent legalization of non-psychoactive cannabis oil for medicinal purposes, marijuana legalization seems unlikely in the near future for residents of the Peach State. Even those who are prescribed cannabis oil for specific medical treatment face potential legal risks. Georgia currently does not allow for the production or distribution of the medicinal oil in the state, leaving patients little choice but to travel across state lines to obtain the medicine, a direct violation of federal law. While laws regarding the drug’s medical use will remain strict, some legislators along with the majority of voters, support allowing cannabidiol to be produced and distributed within state borders.

An adult in Georgia caught in possession of more than 1 ounce of marijuana can face felony charges, a $5,000 fine, and a minimum of one year incarceration. Marijuana arrests are more common in Georgia than they are in most other states. There are roughly 309 marijuana-related arrests for every 100,000 state residents, significantly more than the corresponding national rate of 239 arrests for every 100,000 people.

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