In the years since Colorado and Washington first legalized personal marijuana use in 2012, attention has turned to the future of reform. In 2014, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia joined the crowd. And now lists are popping up everywhere explaining which states are likely to go green next.
But what about the other end of those lists? Which states are least likely to legalize in the next few years? The website 24/7 Wall St, which recently published a list of the most likely, has now added a ranking of the most unlikely.
Not surprisingly, this breakdown leans heavily toward the Deep South and the more conservative corners of the Midwest. But it also highlights a surprising number of states in the Mountain West, one of the birthplaces of legal cannabis.
Here are a few of the states 24/7 Wall St notes are least likely to adopt legalization anytime soon.
Simple possession of small amounts of marijuana is a misdemeanor for any use in Alabama, and the penalties are staggering. The top fine for a low-level offense is $6,000, while second-time offenders are treated as felons and are subject to a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
This fact, together with high arrest and conviction rates, has apparently driven down marijuana consumption in Alabama. Only 9.7 percent of residents use the drug, well below the national average of 12.3 percent.
A limited, non-intoxicating form of marijuana is technically legal in Georgia, but patients have no legal way to obtain the drug, and all other possession is treated as a misdemeanor. The maximum fine for possession of an ounce or less is a whopping $1,000, while the top jail term is one year. Larger amounts are treated as felonies and carry stiff prison sentences.
Georgia also has one of the highest cannabis arrest rates in the country, higher even than many other states in the South. Roughly 308 of every 100,000 residents are busted for marijuana offenses, most of them minor.
Idaho is a decidedly conservative state, opposed to most drug reform, but its location in the West, near Colorado, would seem to make it a possible beacon of hope in the mountain red states. Not so, according to 24/7 Wall St. The top penalty for simple possession is one year in jail and $1,000, and that probably won’t change soon.
There is little public or political appetite for serious reform here, and the arrest rate remains high. More than 250 people per 100,000 face arrest for offenses as minor as low-level personal possession.
Most adults in Indiana support legalizing marijuana to some degree, yet the state is highly unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future. Maximum penalties for possession include 180 days in jail and $1,000 in fines. Only 11 percent of residents report using cannabis, and the state’s Republican legislature has actually tried to pass tougher anti-marijuana laws.
That attempt failed, but Indiana remains an unlikely choice for legalization. Like its neighbors to the south, this state is simply too conservative to be a good bet for reform.
South Dakota is another right-leaning Midwestern state where legalization probably won’t happen anytime soon. Simple possession is a misdemeanor here, with 2 ounces or less carrying a maximum penalty of one year in jail and $2,000 in fines.
As in other states with stringent anti-pot laws, South Dakotans are especially unlikely to use marijuana. Less than 10 percent of residents over the age of 12 say they consume the drug on any kind of regular basis.