Supporters and opponents of legalizing marijuana are preparing to fight over ballot measures in half a dozen states this year, shifting the political battleground away from traditionally liberal states and into some of the country’s most conservative areas.
Two measures are already scheduled to appear on November ballots: Michigan voters will decide whether to become the ninth state to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes, while the electorate in Utah will choose whether to join 22 other states by legalizing pot for medical use.
In Missouri, as many as three separate measures could make the ballot. Supporters have submitted signatures for both medical and recreational regimes that will now be inspected by the secretary of state’s office.
Oklahoma, which voted last month to legalize medical marijuana, could see a ballot measure to approve a recreational scheme as well. Legalization measures are also circulating in Arizona, Nebraska and North Dakota. Supporters in Ohio are trying for a second time to qualify for the ballot, in 2019.
The rush toward legalization comes after a relatively slow start in liberal or libertarian-leaning states. Washington and Colorado were the first to legalize recreational marijuana, in 2012. Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., followed in 2014, and voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada backed legalization in 2016.
After almost a dozen increasingly expensive and high-profile campaigns