When we look back, 2018 may be known as the year that marijuana legalization won.
The latest victory came from, out of all places, conservative Oklahoma. On Tuesday, voters in the state decided to legalize medical marijuana. Although the state is now the 30th to do so, it’s still a big deal because the measure faced so much local resistance. Opposition came not just from major state politicians like Gov. Mary Fallin (R) but also a $500,000 opposition campaign — a pricey effort for an Oklahoma race. The implication is clear: Medical marijuana is so popular, even in a red state like Oklahoma, that little can be done to stop these kinds of ballot measures.
The Oklahoma news, though, only tops what’s been a year of very big victories for cannabis legalization. Last week, Canada became the first wealthy nation — and the second country in the world — to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes, potentially forging a model for others, including the US (where, federally, marijuana is still illegal for all purposes). Earlier this year, Vermont’s legislature became the first to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes (which takes effect this Sunday). And at the start of 2018, California launched the largest legal marijuana market in the world.
Meanwhile, Michigan is set to vote on recreational marijuana legalization later this year, and Utah will vote on medical marijuana — giving marijuana legalization advocates potentially two more wins this year. And New Jersey’s Democratic governor, Phil Murphy, has also been pushing to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes in his state.
There’s a reason for all of this: Poll after poll has found that marijuana legalization is very popular. Gallup put support for recreational legalization at 64 percent among US adults late last year. Medical marijuana legalization is favored even more — polling as high as the 80s.