The issue of legal cannabis use for medicinal or recreational purposes is gaining ground in a number of states. Currently, 29 states and Washington D.C. allow for the use of cannabis to one degree or another.
The legalization of industrial hemp (defined as Cannabis S. with a THC level less than 0.3 per cent) production has also received a boost in popularity in recent years, with 33 states allowing for its cultivation either for research or commercial purposes.
This wellspring of support, however, does not resonate throughout all 50 states. There are still a number of states that, even if the federal government decriminalized or legalized cannabis, would still support its prohibition.
This isn’t much of a surprise, seeing as several states still boast as much as one-third of their territories being “dry,” as in the sale or public consumption of alcohol has remained illegal since the passage of the 18th Amendment, the 1919 Volstead Act (even though the federal government has allowed its use, sale, and consumption since the 21st Amendment passed in 1933 under President Franklin Roosevelt).
In this light, it is again no surprise that these bastions of conservative practices will continue to dig their heels in, hold their breath, and stomp their collective feet when it comes time to take a stance on the legalization of marijuana. Here are five states that are among the least likely to be legalizing cannabis in any form anytime soon.
Alabama, the state that brought us such luminaries as George Wallace and Bull Connor, not surprisingly opposes marijuana legalization vehemently. It still observes prohibition, with dry towns and municipalities in up to one-third of its counties.
With no initiative process on its ballots, there is little hope for grass-roots (pun intended) activists in the Heart of Dixie to make any real progress in the near future for either medicinal or recreational use of cannabis.
Alabama law adds an additional penalty for folks who may be convicted of any crime relating to marijuana; they are banned for life from child adoption within the state. This means that an individual or couple who would like to adopt a child, but have a possession charge somewhere in their past, are unable to improve the life of a child in need.
Much of the popular sensibility in Idaho stems from its high population of practicing Mormons (Idaho has the second largest Mormon population in the country behind Utah) who by decree are opposed to the use of cannabis in any form.
A 2016 poll regarding marijuana legalization found that 64 per cent of the population opposed any form of legalization, with 53 per cent of those respondents indicating that they were strongly opposed to its legalization.
Idaho’s laws reflect this disdain for any use of marijuana. Possession of mere marijuana paraphernalia, not even the substance itself, can lead to a charge and conviction of a misdemeanor.
Kansas can boast the lowest usage levels of marijuana anywhere in the country, if that is what they want to hang their hat on. An estimated 8.2 per cent of Jayhawks use cannabis in any form versus over 12 per cent of the rest of the country. This could be the cause or the effect of its anti-cannabis position.
It should not be much of a surprise that the state that spawned the Westboro Baptist Church, with its anti-progressive stances on everything and its stated intolerance of every other religion, would be firmly in the camp of the states that have no plans of legalizing marijuana.
As recently as 2014, polls indicated that 33 per cent of the state not only was opposed to legalization or decriminalization of marijuana, they felt it should be a felony to possess marijuana.
The state with a reputation for being home to the Big Easy and for practices such as flash-for-beads is surprisingly among the most hard-nosed in its position against marijuana use. Its laws are among the country’s most draconian, with a 20-year sentence for mere possession on more than one occasion and up to life imprisonment for possession in conjunction with any felony (even passing a bad check).
Proposals that were put before the legislature in recent sessions to ease up on some of these harsh sentences have been cast asunder and are not likely to see the light of day on the bayou anytime soon.
Louisiana is another state that lacks an initiative process, denying citizens the chance to put issues like marijuana usage on the ballot.
Louisiana is an exception, however, as it does allow for medicinal use of marijuana in theory, but it has still not been put into practice as other existing legislation makes it illegal for anyone to even handle medicinal marijuana.
The Sooner State is in no hurry to be soonest when it comes to marijuana reform laws. It is currently (along with Nebraska) suing the State of Colorado for legalizing marijuana, citing that Colorado’s laws have resulted in higher law enforcement costs as a result of more marijuana coming into its borders.
Sentences for possessing or selling marijuana are still harsh in Oklahoma, with a punishment of up to life imprisonment if found guilty. Not surprising from a state that still enforces alcohol prohibition, like Alabama, in one-third of its counties. A 2014 poll regarding the legalization of marijuana found that 69 per cent of Oklahomans were against legalization in any form.
These states are hardly outliers. There are about another dozen or so states that could have easily made this list, but didn’t because they might allow for industrial hemp, be considering lower sentences for marijuana possession, or in very rare cases, allow the use of CBD for therapeutic or treatment purposes, but are not otherwise in any hurry to repeal any prohibition on recreational or even medicinal use of cannabis.
Of course, laws change with frequency. All statements are thought to be true at the time of publication, though that may not be the case at any given time in the future. Consult your state’s statutes to be sure what its current legislation on cannabis-related crimes is.