Special Report

11 States Least Likely to Legalize Marijuana

7. Oklahoma
> Max. fine for small amount:
>Marijuana related arrests in 2012:
>Marijuana arrests per 100,000: 252.3
>Minimum penalty classification: N/A

Like a few other states with relatively harsh pot laws, cannabidiol (CBD) is now slightly more accessible for seriously ill patients in Oklahoma than it has been in the past as a result of recent legislation. It is important to note that CBD is not psychoactive, so while legalization advocates have praised the development, the move will likely not pave the way to full legalization any time soon.

Oklahoma is home to some of the harshest marijuana laws. Possession of any amount of marijuana can result in incarceration, and a second offense is an automatic felony. Oklahoma’s government has also expressed its disapproval of legalization. Along with Nebraska, the state filed a lawsuit against its neighbor Colorado, where recreational pot is legal, for violating federal anti-drug laws. State attorneys argued the violation has led to more illegal drugs passing across state lines. The U.S. government has urged the Supreme Court to reject the case.

8. South Dakota
> Max. fine for small amount:
>Marijuana related arrests in 2012: 2,734
>Marijuana arrests per 100,000: 328.1
>Minimum penalty classification: Misdemeanor

In South Dakota, possessing 2 ounces or more of pot could result in a felony charge, prison time, and up to $30,000 in fines. There is not much of a political will to change these laws either — no drug reform laws were even proposed in the South Dakota legislature in 2015. The harsh marijuana laws in South Dakota likely serve as a deterrent. As in a majority of states with relatively severe marijuana laws, South Dakota residents are among the least likely to use the substance. Fewer than one in 10 residents 12 years and older report a pot habit, among the lowest proportions nationwide.

While federal marijuana laws often differ from state laws, there are differences even within states. Some tribes have relatively lenient marijuana laws inside the reservations. This is further complicated when states have strict pot rules. The first tribe to legalize marijuana, the Flandreau Santee Sioux tribe in South Dakota, burned its entire crop in November due to fears of federal raids.

9. Tennessee
> Max. fine for small amount:
>Marijuana related arrests in 2012: 23,488
>Marijuana arrests per 100,000: 363.8
>Minimum penalty classification: Misdemeanor

Tennessee passed a law earlier this year similar to Georgia, allowing people susceptible to seizures to legally use non-psychoactive cannabidiol medicinally. But also like Georgia, without infrastructure supporting the sale of the medicine, most patients are unable to obtain the substance. Governor Bill Haslam has stated that broader medicinal marijuana laws will not likely find support. Along with restrictive and ineffective medicinal laws, Tennessee has relatively strict marijuana possession laws. While the penalty for first and second time offenders of possession of less than half an ounce of pot is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, a third time possession offender of any amount in Tennessee will face felony charges and up to six years of incarceration.

Like all states least likely to legalize pot in the near future, marijuana use among Tennessee residents is relatively rare. An estimated 9.9% of state residents over age 12 have used marijuana recently, a smaller share than in all but 10 other states. Despite low usage rates, marijuana arrest rates in Tennessee are among the highest in the nation. For every 100,000 state residents, there are 364 arrests, significantly more than the national arrest rate of 239 for every 100,000 citizens.