Special Report

The Next 15 States to Legalize Marijuana

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11. New Hampshire
> Possession decriminalized: Yes
> Amount decriminalized: 3/4 oz. or less
> Max. fine for 3/4 oz. or less: $100
> Annual adult usage: 17.1% (9th highest)

New Hampshire is catching up with many other states heading towards legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes. The state decriminalized marijuana possession up to three quarters of an ounce in September 2017.

Some 17.1% of adults in the state used marijuana in the past year, the ninth-highest share of all states. The relatively high share of pot users could be part of the reason why legalization is so popular in the Granite State. A University of New Hampshire poll found 68% of residents support legalizing marijuana for recreational use. That is more support than any single elected official in the state has.

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12. New York
> Possession decriminalized: Yes
> Amount decriminalized: 25 g. or less
> Max. fine for 25 g. or less: $100
> Annual adult usage: 15.0% (14th highest)

Much of the hopes for recreational marijuana legalization in New York actually rest with Massachusetts. Advocates believe that New York state officials could be spurred to act if legalization works well in the neighboring state, which will begin selling recreational pot in July 2018.

New York already has a medical marijuana program and a significant amount of users overall. The state is home to more than 2.3 million adults who used pot in the past year. Pot smokers caught with the drug in the Empire State have little to fear in the way of legal repercussions. First time offenders caught with 25 grams or less face a $100 fine, while second time offenders are slapped with a $200 fine.

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13. Ohio
> Possession decriminalized: Yes
> Amount decriminalized: Less than 100 g.
> Max. fine for less than 100 g.: $150
> Annual adult usage: 12.0% (21st lowest)

Ohio’s attempt to legalize recreational marijuana in 2015 faltered, though the problem may not have been pot itself. Some voters were concerned the ballot initiative would have created an oligopoly, limiting pot profits to just a handful of companies sponsoring the legislation. Even the prominent pro-pot advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project did not endorse the bill. However, since voters can change state law via ballot initiatives, Ohio could be poised for another shot at legalization.

Ohio is in the midst of implementing its medical marijuana program. Currently, recreational users in the state caught with any amount less than 100 grams only face a $150 fine and no jail time.

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14. Rhode Island
> Possession decriminalized: Yes
> Amount decriminalized: Less than 1 oz.
> Max. fine for less than 1 oz.: $150
> Annual adult usage: 18.7% (6th highest)

Rhode Island lawmakers are working to draft a bill that would legalize marijuana for personal use. They are aiming to introduce the bill in the first legislative session of 2018. If successful, the state could be the first to pass a recreational marijuana law through the state legislature, as all other states that have legalized marijuana use did so through ballot initiatives.

The bill had much support in the Rhode Island legislature, with about a third of the House of Representatives co-sponsoring the bill. Some 18.7% of Rhode Island adults used pot in the past year, more than 5 percentage points ahead of the national share of adult pot users. High usage rates can often suggest a more tolerant cultural stance towards pot.

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15. Vermont
> Possession decriminalized: Yes
> Amount decriminalized: 1 oz. or less
> Max. fine for 1 oz. or less: $200
> Annual adult usage: 20.6% (3rd highest)

Vermont was well on its way to having the first state legislature to pass a law allowing people 21 and over to use marijuana for recreational purposes. It was only one signature away, but Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the bill, saying he wanted to further study the effects pot has on public safety and state tax revenue. Scott said he would be willing to sign a recreational pot bill into law with a few tweaks.

It is not a surprise that politicians in Vermont would be on board with marijuana legalization given how popular it is in the state. Some 15% of Vermont adults used marijuana in the past month, and more than 20% used it in the past year. Those figures were both in the top three among states.