While the U.S. house is preparing to vote later this month on legalizing marijuana on a federal level for the first time, several states could legalize drug this fall with or without Congress.
Even if the House measure passes we still need to see if the Republican-controlled Senate will take up the bill.
Five states are taking it in their own hands and could make it legal to buy marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes in November.
In both New Jersey and Arizona, polling suggests voters will back recreational sales.
South Dakota and Montana could also pass recreational legalization measures this year and Mississippi voters will decide whether to legalize medical marijuana.
“We’re now working in very red states,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of pro-legalization advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project. “If we win in Mississippi, Montana and South Dakota … it becomes more difficult for those senators to oppose legislation that allows their home states to implement laws the voters have approved.”
“Every victory on the state level makes the federal-state conflict more untenable than it already is,” Schweich said.
The Brookings Institution’s John Hudak has remarked, “This is just mainstream public policy. In the same way that states have votes on tax policy and a variety of other types of issues, this is rapidly becoming just another standard public policy issue.”