Special Report

The Next 14 States to Legalize Marijuana

Dover, Delaware 2
Source: Thinkstock

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.

Springfield, Illinois State Capitol Building
Source: Thinkstock

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 the summer, Rauner expanded the state’s medical marijuana program to include post-traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition.

In addition to relatively progressive existing laws, Illinois is also a ballot initiative state, which makes marijuana legalization even more likely. Because it can be a risky political move to support marijuana legalization, elected officials often shy away from the subject. However, in ballot initiative states residents can put forth such initiatives. In fact, recreational marijuana use is legal only in such states. With enough documented public support, Illinois voters can also put recreational marijuana use on the ballot.