Some States Remain Staunch Opponents of Marijuana Legalization

While marijuana, both recreational and medical, is legal in a growing number of states, some states remain unlikely to legalize the drug any time soon, according to USA Today. These include states in the South, West and Midwest.

The newspaper predicts that the 11 states least likely to legalize marijuana are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming.

Recreational marijuana is legal in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, while medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states, the article notes.

In all of the states least likely to legalize marijuana, possessing the drug is a felony under certain circumstances. Marijuana use rates are below averages in these states. All of the states voted for the conservative candidate in the 2012 presidential election, according to the newspaper.

In Alabama, 9.7 percent of residents 12 years and older report using marijuana, compared with the national usage rate of 12.3 percent. Second-time offenders caught with any amount of marijuana face felony charges and up to five years in prison.

In Arkansas, voters rejected a measure in 2012 that would have allowed seriously ill residents to use medicinal marijuana without fear of legal repercussion. In 2014, a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana failed to make it onto the ballot. Almost half of all counties in Arkansas ban alcohol sales. Possession of four ounces or more is a felony punishable by up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Second time offenders in Arkansas face felony charges for possessing as little as one ounce.

In Idaho, a first-time offender caught with three ounces or less of marijuana for personal use can face up to a year of incarceration, in addition to a $1,000 fine. Possessing more than three ounces in Idaho is a felony punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

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    Dave Finch

    January 9, 2016 at 2:15 PM

    I agree partially with D. What the states are doing is commercializing pot. I am all for adults having access to marijuana for use the way we use beverage alcohol, but we need a way to dispense it that prevents leakage into the hands of minors. Studies have seemed to show that regular use of pot by adults is not harmful–at least when used moderately and not combined with too much alcohol. But, the developing teenage brain may be adversely affected.There is debate over whether the young brain is physically affected, but none over whether pot is a demotivator. Young people in training and learning cannot afford the lost time and motivational drive to make it successfully into an increasingly and demanding world. Commercialization both sends the wrong signal to the young and makes it available to young adults who will share with or sell on to kids.

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    January 7, 2016 at 12:15 PM

    Too bad the other 39 have caved or will soon.

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