A joint effort: legalize it!


Inexplicably, the nation was greeted Tuesday morning to the news that Alaska has become the third state to legalize recreational marijuana.

Continuing the great State Press Spring 2015 Opinion tradition, here are four other states that are hot on the heels of those baked Alaskans, no doubt enjoying themselves some baked Alaska and other munchies right this minute.

California: The first state to legalize medical marijuana back in 1996 is long overdue on completing the Western Seaboard’s transmutation from the Wild West to the Mild West. California Attorney General Kamala Harris recently took an about face to recreational marijuana — from calling it laughable just a year ago to now admitting that recreational pot is “inevitable.” There’s no reason for her to strain herself, though, since her state’s crop is a classic, serving as long-time inspiration for countless movies and songs.

Massachusetts: The Liberal bastion will likely be one of the first states east of the Mississippi to be a real good bud to cannabis users. The state’s progressive history with health care reform and marriage equality make it a likely trailblazer for the next wave of marijuana reform. Massachusetts voters decriminalized weed in 2014. If this poll by the Boston Herald is any indication, voters will legalize it in 2016. Expect Bostonians by the thousands to soon adopt to the seafood diet. It’s not fixated around the daily catch from the Massachusetts Bay, but instead centered on the philosophy of a very wise sage (or very inebriated hippie): “Whenever I seafood, I eat it.”

Nevada: It’s genuinely surprising that marijuana isn’t already legal here—what makes people more likely to throw away Junior’s college fund on a dice roll than some chemical psychoactive suppression? Here’s an idea: Give a free joint to every person as they walk onto the gambling floor and watch the risky bets and repetitive pulls of the slot machines occur with triple frequency. In a state whose tourism brings in 40 million visitors a year and billions in revenue, Nevada could become the American Amsterdam and the center of high-price, high-quality cannabis and products for its unique clientele. Don’t worry about Junior and his college fund though, he can survive with a job in the burgeoning marijuana industry — whether that behavior is regulated and safe or high-risk and criminal is a matter of choice for the voters.

Arizona: What, here?

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Yes, here. Bizarre as it may sound, we’re actually a frontrunner for recreational marijuana legalization in 2016. Like other many states in the midterms last year, Conservative politicians won the elections, but liberal policies won the ballots. If one thing can move a large mass of young people, albeit in very short bursts between Netflix binges and one’s second and third Totino’s pizza in a single sitting, it would be marijuana legalization. On the lovely Ballotpedia, (yes, there is a –pedia for laws being proposed in every state legislature, school board and municipal government in the country and it is mind-bogglingly informative) the proposed initiative for 2016 already has a page, even though it isn’t an official proposal yet. The PAC Safer Arizona is focused on legalization and regulation of marijuana in a similar way to alcohol and is among the many groups working for marijuana reform in Arizona. Although it’ll be another 18 months until Arizonians vote again, keeping up-to-date with the evolution of marijuana laws and their effects throughout the country will better inform our own decisions in the future. Or, at the least, prevent you from being smoked in a debate.


It's time for the 50 states of green to hash it out and get on the legalization train.

Reach the columnist at hfinzel@asu.edu or follow @OnlyH_Man on Twitter.

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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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