6 States That May Never Legalize Marijuana

Cannabis plants grow in the 'flower room' of a marijuana cultivation facility
Cannabis plants grow in the ‘flower room’ of a marijuana cultivation facility | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The push to legalize marijuana is in full force and a look at just how swiftly attitudes are changing nationwide is nearly enough to make anyone start buying pot penny stocks left and right. Though there has been both disappointing and encouraging signs from the federal government in regard to eventual reclassification or legalization of cannabis, we’re still seeing a state-by-state domino effect take place.

What started in Washington and Colorado spread to Oregon and Alaska. From there, to Nevada, California, Maine, and Massachusetts.

Legalize marijuana? Not everyone’s on board

Even with resounding successes in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, many people still aren’t convinced that ending cannabis prohibition is a good idea. There are still concerns, to be sure, and we still don’t have a full grasp on what the endgame will look like for many years. But even so, many states and groups are steadfastly against the notion of legalization, and it’s unclear as to what, if anything, will change their minds.

For that reason, there are some states that may never see legalization, unless it comes from a change at the federal level. As for which states specifically, we looked at statewide polls (prior to the 2016 election) and research into the harshness of penalties related to marijuana to compile a short list. Here are six states that may never legalize marijuana on their own.

1. Georgia

Atlanta skyline at night, where there's little hope to legalize marijuana currently
Atlanta skyline at night, where there’s little hope to legalize marijuana currently | Source: Foter.com

Though “Hotlanta” is home to many rappers and liberal-minded folks who would likely fall squarely into the “support legalization” camp, Georgia is still a pretty conservative place. With that comes some strong resistance to cannabis legalization. A 2015 poll shows that less than half of the state’s residents support ending prohibition (though that may have changed), and punishments for possession are still among the worst in the country.

2. Nebraska

'Welcome to Nebraska' sign board on a empty road
‘Welcome to Nebraska’ sign board on an empty road | iStock.com

Nebraska finds its way onto the list due to the fact that it is another state with consequences for cannabis use and possession. Nebraska’s a rural state, and its residents still have very conservative views when it comes to drug use — as seen by its rather harsh treatment of offenders. It was also one of the states that sued Colorado for its legalization law, citing increased law enforcement costs and drug trafficking. Needless to say, Nebraskans are still coming around to the idea of legal pot.

3. Oklahoma

Downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Oklahoma was another state (along with Nebraska) to sue Colorado in federal court, in an effort to undermine its neighbor’s legalization law. It’s also a largely rural, conservative state where many people are still not comfortable with the idea of ending cannabis prohibition. Oklahoma has been named the worst state for getting caught with pot by some sources, largely due to its incredibly harsh punishments for cultivation and possession. You could be sent to prison for life, in some circumstances.

4. Idaho

Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley, Idaho | Mark Davis/Getty Images for Sun Valley Film Festival

Though it’s bordered by two states with legal pot in Oregon and Washington, Idaho is still firmly against legalization, by and large. Conservative culture and values play a large part in that, and a 2015 poll proves it. Only 31% of Idaho voters said that they would support legalization last year. The Marijuana Policy Project says there is little hope for change in the near future, as well.

5. Kansas

Wind turbines stand at sunset in rural Kansas
Wind turbines stand at sunset in rural Kansas | Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Kansas is a very conservative state, and as such, a lot of people aren’t taking kindly to the idea of legal marijuana within its borders. Polls from recent years have shown that a healthy portion of the state’s voters oppose legalization, and want fairly heavy punishments for possession. But that sentiment may not last — even newer polls show that people are coming around to the idea. In 2015, 63% of Kansas residents said they would support decriminalization.

6. Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee | Rick Diamond/Getty Images

A Vanderbilt University poll from a couple of years ago shows that only one-third of Tennessee supports legalization. That’s among the lowest in the nation, and though it’s unclear how much those numbers have changed over the past two years, support is likely still quite low. For that reason, legalization seems like a pipe dream — at least at this point.

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