The Key Battleground State for Marijuana Legalization

CaliforniaWith voting just over a year and a half away, people have begun thinking about whom and what they will be voting for in 2016. Naturally, marijuana is on the minds of millions of American’s as it is expected that legalization measures will appear in at least five states – including California. Next year, California is considered the key battleground state for marijuana legalization and how the state’s voters respond is expected to determine the fate of the legalization movement in America, Bloomberg reports.

“A lot of eyes are on California,” said Gavin Newsom, the state’s lieutenant governor and a supporter of legalization. “It’s very different than almost any other state because of the scale and the magnitude of the change and what it will represent across the country.”

California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. In less than 20 years, twenty-two other states and D.C. have followed suit, passing medical marijuana legislation.

There are currently four states that have legalized recreational marijuana use, but what makes California so critical is the fact that it has 39 million residents, more than double the combined size of voters in: Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon. A recent poll found that 55 percent of California voters are in favor legalizing marijuana.

“Legalizing adult use in California would be a worldwide game changer that would dwarf the markets in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska combined,” said Troy Dayton, Chief Executive Officer of ArcView Group, a marijuana investment and research firm.

While legalization in California was rejected in 2010, supporters argue that the 2016 measure is more likely to pass because it is a presidential election year, according to the article. Historically, younger voters turn out for presidential elections more than they do for mid-terms, and younger voters are the people most likely to favor legalization.