After Ballot Wins, More State Legislators Try to Legalize Pot

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The path to legalizing pot often leads the same way: through the ballot box. Eight states, including California, Colorado and Oregon, have passed voter-approved ballot measures legalizing the purchase and possession of marijuana for anyone 21 and older. A new path toward legalization — lawmaker-inspired reforms — is emerging, the Los Angeles Times reports. The shift may be a sign of lawmakers picking up on public opinion. A Pew Research Center survey in October indicated 57 percent of Americans support legalized marijuana, compared with 37 percent who want it to remain illegal. A similar Pew survey in 2006 showed almost the opposite: 60 percent believed it should be illegal, compared with 32 percent who supported legalization.

This trend also is reflected in many state-level polls, emboldening lawmakers enticed by possible tax revenue to move forward with legalization efforts. Yet while pro-pot measures have advanced in some legislatures, lawmakers and governors still move with a modicum of caution. How many state legislatures have attempted to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2017? Lawmakers in 17 states introduced measures to legalize recreational pot for adults and tax its sale. While many of those efforts faltered — some were squashed in committee hearings, while others died during floor votes — pot advocates were right in guessing a regional sweet spot of sorts: the Northeast. So far, Maine and Massachusetts have legalized marijuana through ballot measures, placing pressure on other states — which border or are a short drive away — to act.

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