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Which State Legislature Will Be The First To Legalize Marijuana?


marijuana reform bill legislature session legislative billsI remember years ago when it seemed like marijuana legalization was quite a ways out. 2010 saw the first statewide vote on marijuana legalization, which blew my mind at the time. After the 2010 election my perception changed and legalization seemed like it was right around the corner, but prior to that it seemed like it was going to take forever to get an initiative approved for the ballot and passed on election day.

2012 of course saw not one, but two states legalize marijuana (Colorado and Washington in case you have been living under a rock). Both of those victories came via the citizen initiative process. I think everyone knew that the first state(s) to legalize would happen via an initiative. But I always hoped that after marijuana reform was achieved via the initiative process, that it would speed up the process of seeing a state legislature legalize marijuana. I was always confident that the citizens would do it, but I often wondered how long it would take for politicians to do it after they saw that the sky didn’t fall, and that there are numerous benefits to legalization.

Marijuana legalization bills are popping up all over the nation right now, which is not new. Bills have been introduced for years, they just have never gone very far. They were seen by many non-marijuana supporters as a radical politician’s attempt at getting attention. My how things have changed. The bills that are being introduced now all have better chances of advancing than they ever have before. Which leads to the question, ‘which state legislature will be the first to legalize marijuana?’

I think the obvious choice right now has to be New Hampshire, which recently passed a marijuana legalization bill in the House chamber. There are many marijuana reformers who are quick to point out that the odds don’t look favorable in the Senate, and there is a looming veto threat out there by the Governor. But they were the first state to pass a legalization bill in any chamber of a state legislature, so I consider them the front runner as long as efforts are alive in their legislature.

Other states that are popular in this discussion are New England states like Maine, Rhode Island, and Maryland. Maine looked like it had a great chance until greedy business interests killed the legalization bill there. There have been veto threats in Rhode Island, which I think has hampered success in their legislature. Maryland I think has a great chance of passing, despite opposition expressed by their Governor. Why do Governor’s try to squash democracy before it even starts? I will never understand that.

I have always rooted for Oregon to be first, and I think there is a strong argument why my home state could be the first to legalize marijuana via the legislature, although, I’d imagine we will see a legislative referral for the 2014 election, not an outright approval. A bill was introduced yesterday in Oregon (Senate Bill 1556) that would allow up to four plants at home, eight ounces at home, and one ounce in transport. People close to the situation tell me that it has a better chance of passing than a similar bill that was introduced last year.

I think in Oregon the Legislature is aware that marijuana legalization is inevitable here, and that the window of opportunity for them to have any input at all is closing more and more with every week that goes by. The people behind Oregon’s 2012 initiative are currently collecting signatures, and a very strong coalition called ‘New Approach Oregon’ is also collecting signatures. The pressure is mounting in Salem to do something, or politicians in Oregon will have to accept whatever version of legalization is passed via the initiative process. It’s an interesting situation that I am very excited to see unfold.

What state legislature do you think will be the first to pass marijuana legalization? Do you think it’s going to be a New England state? Do you think it will be Oregon? Do you think it will be somewhere else?


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Johnny Green


  1. Part 2. I also wonder why he visited TWB. He doesn’t seem to have any interest in MJ and has never made any mention of it. That’s too bad from him because legalization is inevitable, in my humble opinion, and there will be lots of opportunities (see what’s going on in CO right now) and likely he and his people could take advantage of some of those opportunities.

    Well, I’ll let him cool his heels for a few more days and I’ll write him again. Maybe he’s reading our exchanges. I hope so.

  2. Part 1. Agree it is my fault for some bizarre reasons. We were discussing the potential for legalizing MJ in NM and he jumped in the middle. I suspect he didn’t see the NM point. Then he latched onto my question about legalizing on reservations and my mention of casinos. That’s another reason I feel he’s not from NM; didn’t know there are (or at least were) casinos. Alcoholism, for some reason he attributed to me when it was you who raised the point; no problem, of course. But I think the thing that most set him off was my mention of water through the hands. I thought it was clearly a figure of speech, but he seemed to take it literally and also turn it upside down. Again, if he’s from SD and not NM I think I can see why. Those reservations in SD are outposts of hell and (besides the poverty, unemployment, alcoholism, education, health issues and probably more that have resulted from the ethnic cleansing) there is an extreme shortage of accessible water; hence his sensitivity.

  3. Yes, I understand. At least you knew enough to start your search, and I appreciate you filling me in. I wonder why he visited The Weed Blog? I can’t be sure, but I think it’s your fault that he’s gone. How is that? I dunno, I just want to blame someone else. :)

  4. My idiocy gets even worse. I see that I believed the last part of his “name” is APACHE; in fact, it’s SIOUX, which puts me back to my original contention that he’s no from NM. Understand?

  5. Ron: No worries. We were both trying to learn here, weren’t we? I’m just sorry that this Native American only wanted to discuss history, instead of the present. The Native American voice is one that has been neglected for far too long…

  6. This is my second reply today. Read the other one first. I feel like an idiot because I just did a search on Apaches and see that I was totally wrong about my comments in the other message. No excuses.

  7. FWIW, I never saw the other comment you alluded to; no problem. I fear we might have scared off our friend. You have to admit that we both made some rather strong points that might bother him.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I get the feeling he’s not from NM. My bet is on South Dakota, partly because of the “Apache” (Are there many Apaches in NM?) in his name and partly because the bitterness he describes is more indicative of what I think of SD. I would like to find out.

  8. Well. I see. Actually, I don’t see. But if you want to build a fence around Native Americans as a group, and not be included in what the little people are fighting for, that’s certainly your choice.

    Keep in mind, though, that there is strength in numbers. When one is a minority, one needs all the friends one can get.

    It’s too bad, judging from your posts, we seem to agree on a lot of things. And it would have been nice to learn more about Native Americans and how they are doing in this recession. You had a chance to include your voice, which you have done, but I’m not going to take your opinion as representing all Native Americans. I’d like to think there are Native Americans who would not prejudge this white woman just because of some misconstrued internet posts.

  9. BlackcloudSioux on

    You are not someone I would want to be around. Smoke your own Peace pipe.
    I would never share with you. We will never be a part of your 99% society you have made up to protect yourself from the leaders of this National Beurocracy you uphold to, so you can keep hiding from the realty of this brutal nation. Yet, you keep referring to us and need proof of my lies you think I speak upon. Do yourself justice and open your eyes to the truth. The blind leading the blind.
    The indigenous people have our ways, I’m not a militant, only a warrior.
    Your flag I spit upon and hold upside down, after all isn’t that what you do when your country has turned their back upon you? You are controlled and lied to. And yet you need more proof, but called me uneducated. If the great spirit wanted me to be a white man, he would have done so. You are treading on thin ice with your wisdom and past history that you have no part of. Your discrimatory remarks about my people, shows the true color of you and you cannot take that back. Not then, not now and not ever. I show you proof at Pine Ridge. Good luck because you will need it.

  10. Dear Blackcloud Sioux: I use Wikipedia because it is smarter than me, and so far, has never proven inaccurate. If you think that the Wikipedia facts are incorrect, then we should both do something about that. I’ve never posted to Wikipedia, but I’m sure they can be notified in some way of any errors or disputed information. But, I’m gonna need a link or something that includes information on the opposing point of view.

    I appreciated your detailed and passionate response. But, I think you may have misconstrued my views. We are all part of the 99%, are we not? Can we pass, pass, puff the peace pipe?

  11. Ron: I posted a comment earlier, saying something like we were all part of the 99%, etc., because I think our Native American friend thinks I am not on his side. Unfortunately, my finely-crafted comment has disappeared…

    Yes, by all means, I would love to discuss the benefits of cannabis and legalization with a Native American, especially a fellow New Mexican. I’ll mosey on down and respond to him again…

  12. I have gone through a range of emotions about BCS’s messages, and I have concluded with something you might find bizarre. I think we should encourage him to channel his anger into an appropriate direction; i.e., the issue of MJ reform, something I haven’t seen so far. After all, he has a unique perspective and I for one would like to learn more on how prohibition and reform have affected Native Americans. How about it BCS, wanna share?

  13. Dude, you are preaching to the wrong choir. I’m on your side, you just can’t see that.

    Just as the Native American population has been mistreated throughout history, so have African Americans, women, g a y people — the list goes on and on. Who has had it the worst? I mean, should we have some kind of contest?

    I use Wikipedia because it is smarter than me. And I have never found it to be inaccurate. If the information I posted from Wikipedia is inaccurate, then please refute it with your own links.

    I’m not sure why you are attacking me for views I don’t have. No matter where you live in America, the 99% includes all of us, Native Americans, disabled, women, Walmart workers, etc., etc. All of us, no matter what our labels, affiliations, or groups, are all in the same boat. You know, that boat that’s sinking.

    If you want to paint the government as some kind of devil, you are welcome to do so — many on this site do the same. If you want to blame all the problems of the 99% on the government, go ahead. But all of this is beside the point — this is The Weed Blog, remember?

    Cannabis has been proven to assist alcoholics in beating this addiction. I’d sure like someone from the Native American community to agree with me on this. If you want to argue the merits of cannabis treatments for addiction or cancer or violence… well, I would welcome your input. Peace out.

  14. BlackcloudSioux on

    1). You are saying that Wikipedia is smarter than a native Indian?

    Again…proved my point who is clueless.

    And to further your education about Pine Ridge Reservation, the one I happened to live on, has been nothing but bloodshed caused by a corrupted government and the ones who follow their orders.

    In addition to your lack of knowledge painkillers, My people (Sioux) have been tortured, beaten molested, starved and left to die. The children were lined up to be beaten with the butts of a rifle and shot in the back by the US soldiers. The women were fisted with weapons in all ways and positioned, in pain and agony until they bled to death. The water has been poisoned, our food was poisoned and our lands dominated by the buffalo hunters to just to sell the hides. Until the treaty came about and we were placed in squares and rounded up like cattle and told we have to live here. Sitting Bull was murdered and shot in the back. You want to call me uneducated, that’s fine, but, most know that Wikipedia is not acceptable at most, if not all universities as a reliable source of information, it was provided to the uneducated to falsify truth and to be manipulated and controlled yet again by the US.

    2). You sir, are the uneducated. You think those Casino’s helped our people? Think again, it has destroyed our people. It was government sanctioned, and the government controls the monies received. Your government tells us we can’t grow hemp, your government tells us that the land is really not your land, but a place for you to reside. You want the gold in the black hills now, you want to mine on our land to extract oil, you want to keep killing off the population, little by little to get what you want. They have no respect or any intentions to keep their treaty. You think alcoholism runs rampant, and yet you point the finger still blaming us for your deeds that the white man has caused just so that you don’t have to take any responsibility for the destruction of land.

    3). You put us in boarding schools, you have separated us as children, you have convinced the shallow minded and the egotistical to believe your vomit that spills out of the mouths of government officials. You have imprisoned the native culture to coexist, to live, to be able to have the freedoms of the white traditional ways so that you can manifest your lies and spread them at every angle. The so called” drunken Indian” is a weak attempt at your failures. You have isolated a culture against our will because you were scared of us and we had the land. The Indian lived your ways and if we have to live in your way, in your rules and have to be improvished, we will continue to stay drunk at your expenses and you cannot touch us or harm us anymore.

  15. Blackcloud Sioux: Even though your language leaves much to be desired, I decided to respond to your post anyway.

    Who said anything about “the land you want back”? What are you talking about?

    And, to further your education, here’s some info from Wikipedia for you:

    “By the time the Europeans reached the Americas in the 15th century, several native civilizations had developed alcoholic beverages. According to a post-conquest Aztec document, consumption of the local ‘wine’ (pulque) was generally restricted to religious ceremonies but was freely allowed to those who were older than 70 years.”

    Or, how about this one, again from Wikipedia:

    “The discovery of late Stone Age beer jugs has established the fact that purposely fermented beverages existed at least as early as c. 10,000 BC.”

    I think I’ve proven who’s clueless here. Peace out.

  16. This is my second message. The other was cut off because it was too long. Read other one first.

    To continue, I don’t mind you calling me a racist or c’sucker (I’m quite secure with myself on both issues), but I do mind you grossly distorting the context of my comments. Now to get back to what set you off: Is it possible to legalize MJ on reservations? That could help install a lot of water pumps.

  17. I have to clear up some things because you obviously have not read the whole discussion between me and painkills2. 1.The discussion was solely about the potential for MJ legalization in NEW MEXICO. 2.There are (or were) casinos on the reservations in NM; a fact, check it out. 3.The points about alcoholism were made by the other person, not me. I don’t live in NM (or even the US), so I’m not qualified to pass judgment, so I’ll ask you: Is alcoholism a problem and would MJ help deal with the problem? 4.Water through the hands I thought was clearly a figure of speech mearning that potential money made from MJ would bypass the state (especially the government) and end up on the reservations instead. Why would you object to that.

  18. I would like to nominate my home state of PA but unfortunately we don’t have a snowball’s chance. :-(

  19. BlackcloudSioux on

    You have no idea Ron wtf your talking about with the casinos and the REZ.
    cocksucker 4% of the Indian is left, water thru their hands. Most reservations don’t even have water.
    Racial asshole. I can say that because I am that 4%. Get your facts straight before you spout off anything again about my people and the land you want back. Alcoholism issues on the res as well?
    You poor sad people, we never had alcohol before the whites showed up. Your clueless.

  20. It appears to me that those on the Indian reservations are not even close to legalizing MJ, as they have a real problem with alcoholism within this group. (And yet, with the condition of alcoholism, marijuana could really help.)

    But I admit that I haven’t seen a lot of information on this. The only issue I’ve read about within the Native American community in regards to MJ is the banking issue, where it’s been mentioned (in passing) that we could bypass the big banks by creating state banks within the rules of Indian reservations for the marijuana industry.

    But you raise a good point about including Native Americans in the legalization efforts, so thanks.

  21. Is it possible possible for the Indian reservations to legalize MJ? They seemed to have done quite well with gambling casinos and maybe just the idea (of all that new money going through their hands like water) would be enough to get more politicians off the fence.

  22. I wish south Carolina would legalize weed if the government would think if they would go ahead n legalize it everywhere they wouldn’t have to wrry about people selling it on the streets n trafficing it across the start line. The government eed to think smarter or get

  23. I believe that they will try to pass through the legislatures to gain more control before the November elections in the states circulating petitions. Something people need to very vocal to there representatives about.

  24. Missouri: Rubin my rabbits foot, fingers crossed, wearin the knees out on my jeans from preying: AMEN

  25. they should have allow to use weed since overcrowd people go to prison.. this is not going to help them .. it is killing our tax payer s money to pay prison who sell weeds.. They should have open and allow and start to do something change to allow and taxes on weed.. something like that.. GOVERNMENTS AND AMERICA OF PRESIDENT HAS NO BRAIN AND HOW TO FIGURE OUT.. CUT DOWN PEOPLE GET CAUGHT AND SEND TO JAILS.. STOP WASTE TAX PAYER’S MONEY.

    I used to smoke weed due to muscle stiff it is very painful and can’t sleep at all if i don’t use it.. I am from OHIO. I can’t wait to have them pass the law.. come on and stop wasting our time

  26. No mention of New York. Talk about inevitable it will happen in one form or another real soon. Either by the governor intitve or through the legislature. But with Governor Cuomo opening his eyes to the fact that something needs to be done to stop all of this pain killer addiction. He is make the right decisions and taking the state the right direction. I also think he sees the amount of revenue that is being generated by the sale of medical marijuana.
    It will be a while before this state sees recreational use of marijuana being legal.

  27. I dont think any state legislatures will do it. All the politicians are the same (anti marijuana). Even liberal Demmycrats in the most extreme liberal states are anti marijuana.

  28. I read the article you listed and it sounds like the biggest hurdle you’ll face is a gubernatorial veto. Any chance the legislature can override her veto? Good luck!

  29. I suspect it’s a bit harder if the opponent hasn’t personally voted for legalization to tie them to a random death.

    But I give credit to Mason Tvert for employing a variant of that strategy in the push to legalize in Colorado:

    When [mayor] Hickenlooper opposed the effort in Denver (and later defied the will of voters), Tvert deployed a novel headline-grabbing counterattack: he used Hizzoner’s career as a beer magnate – and Colorado’s fame as the home of the Coors empire — to spotlight the hypocrisy of at once supporting marijuana prohibition promoting the far-more-dangerous drug called alcohol.

    From “How Colorado Disrupted the Drug War”:


    (This whole article is a must-read for legalization activists!)

  30. I wonder why political operatives don’t use this strategy for those with ties to alcohol or cigarette deaths…

  31. I think he can probably get by with that and not damage his chances of future electability to federal office, on the grounds of compassion.

    Whereas if I was an unethical campaign strategist working against a governor who legalized for everyone, I’d find a case of an accident where marijuana was found in the car and someone died. And I’d nail the opponent to the cross with it.

  32. First, Maryland is N0T, I repeat, NOT, in New England. Second, I’ll go out on a limb and predict that New Mexico will be the first legislature to legalize. Maybe legislators will recognize that all the money leaving for their neighbor to the north can be brought back and then some.

  33. The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, has announced use of executive power to regulate use of Cannabis in 20 selected hospitals. Presumably this is a move on the Governor’s part (although previously opposed, he now approves MMJ’s use as a compassionate gesture) to get our Do-Nothing Legislature to start earning their excessive wages, and to enhance the process of giving the people of NY a voice in this inter/national issue.

  34. Oregon is clearly inevitable, but with the ballot initiative process pretty far along, and a good bet for this year, I wonder if the legislature would bother. If they pass something that is more restrictive, the ballot initiative would probably move forward anyway.

    Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority predicts Rhode Island, which is a solid bet. http://www.drugpossessionlaws.com/interview-tom-angell-marijuana-majority/

    I think Vermont might be a dark horse to jump out ahead of everyone. They are not afraid to be bold. That state was first with same sex civil unions, and is currently working on a statewide single payer health plan.

    But someone is going to do it. When Oklahoma legislators introduce a legalization bill, you know it is simple not a crazy fringe issue anymore. It’s going to happen soon, and spread rapidly after that.

  35. Politically I can see why governors are opposed. That office is usually a stepping-stone to the presidency, and for those with such ambitions, supporting a state law that contravenes federal law doesn’t look good on your resume to later hold federal office.

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