Tide Turning on Marijuana Legalization

In the months after Colorado and Washington State legalized marijuana for recreational use, other states are creeping closer and closer to legalization too. Business Insider reports:

[…] May saw the NYPD’s arrest numbers for marijuana offenses begin to decline, Christopher Robbins at Gothamist reported, with Commissioner Ray Kelly pushing pot to the back seat in favor of drugs that have dangerous effects.


New York City arrests for marijuana possession are set to drop 20% in 2013.


Upstate in Albany, State Senator Liz Krueger swore to introduce a law to decriminalize, regulate, and tax marijuana in New York State, Dana Rubenstein at Capital New York reported.


The Empire State has been floated as one which could be in the next batch of states that, like Colorado and Washington, have a legal marijuana economy.


On the West Coast, incoming Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti indicated Monday he supports legalizing marijuana for general use. This comes a month after California Lieutenant Governor — and potential 2014 gubernatorial candidate — Gavin Newsom penned an op-ed calling for California to legalize pot.


Most interesting of all is movement in Illinois to approve medical marijuana. The bill passed the state Senate earlier this month and awaits Gov. Pat Quinn’s signature.

It appears as if more areas are beginning to follow CO and WA’s lead by placing less emphasis on marijuana arrests and prosecutions. Now that Colorado’s Legislature has invented a framework for the newly legal marijuana economy, it’s eventual implementation will be a testing ground for how states handle marijuana legalization. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is set to sign the bills outlining legalization’s legal and tax frameworks.

If Colorado becomes a successful example, it very well could be the case that more states place marijuana legalization on ballot initiatives just as CO and WA did.

But of greater interest is the shifting moral landscape with regards to marijuana legalization:

Reason-Rupe poll from earlier this month found that a mere 6% of Americans think marijuana possession should be punished with jail time. This, combined with a new majority of Americans supporting legalization, has dealt a devastating blow to opponents of legalization.

As more Americans support lifting the marijuana prohibition (or at the very least do not support imprisonment), will more ballot initiatives for legalization soon follow?

For further reading, myself and Neal Dewing outlined two arguments for legalization in a two-part series on this site. Neal Dewing’s piece offers a moral argument for legalization while mine presents a fiscal argument.

Do you think that the marijuana prohibition will be lifted in more states soon?