If 2012 was cannabis legalization’s breakthrough election, 2016 may prove to be the movement’s tipping point. When Colorado and Washington state voted to allow the adult use of cannabis in 2012, 12 million Americans gained the freedom to purchase and consume. If all five adult-use ballot measures pass in 2016, a total of 76 million people — nearly one-quarter of the U.S. population — will live in states with legal, regulated adult-use cannabis. On the medical side, Florida, Arkansas, and North Dakota would add 24 million residents to the roughly 160 million Americans already living in 25 states with legal medical cannabis.
The Pew Research Center’s poll on legalization continues to be the best source of data on America’s rapidly changing views on cannabis. Rule of thumb: The younger the voter, the more likely they are to support adult-use legalization.
Legalization campaigns are a lot like presidential campaigns: People tend to watch the national polling figures, but what really matters are the state-by-state polls. Good piece on this recently by Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, by the way — well worth reading. The Pew national poll is great for taking the nation’s overall temperature, but the legalization movement marches forward one state at a time. (Polls on state-level cannabis support aren’t taken at regular intervals, so the time-axes are a little funky.)
State of the Leaf: This Week in Politics
Every Thursday, Leafly associate editor Lisa Rough compiles the State of the Leaf, a state-by-state update on legalization matters around the nation. This week: Alaska harvests its first legal crop with nowhere to sell it; one of two Arkansas ballot measures survives its day in court, an Illinois judge adds one more MMJ qualifying condition, and the ballot battle ends in Michigan and Oklahoma.
Follow The Money
Money doesn’t always change everything, but in politics it matters an awful lot. Here’s the latest data on contributions for and against legalization campaigns. Keep in mind that there’s often a lag of anywhere between several weeks and several months in the public disclosure of contributions due to each state’s campaign financing rules.
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