Legalizing Marijuana, Once Thought Unthinkable In These Three States, Will Be On The Ballot In 2020

Rick ObstFlickr(CC BY 2.0 Cropped, resized.)

Three states will be asking their voters to consider legalizing marijuana for recreational use in 2020, and in those three states the idea would have been all but unthinkable even a few years ago.

As The Motley Fool reports, the tide of public opinion on cannabis use and legalization has turned over the past few years, with 11 states having legalized recreational marijuana, and 22 having legalized medical marijuana. That leaves 17 states without any form of legalized marijuana, according to, and most of those are more traditionally conservative states, states that the casual observer might think would be unlikely to ever legalize marijuana.

When it comes to three of those states, however, the casual observer would be wrong. Mississippi, South Dakota, and Nebraska will all be asking their voters to decide on legalizing marijuana for recreational use in 2020.


Marijuana legalization advocates are currently gathering signatures in the Cornhusker State, attempting to get enough signatures to put the Nebraska Cannabis Legalization Initiative on the 2020 ballot. The language on the initiative is rather broad, so what effect it will have on Nebraskans who want to light up remains to be seen.

Specifically, the initiative aims to add these words to the Nebraska constitution: “Any person in the State of Nebraska has the right to use any plant in the genus Cannabis L. and any of the parts of such plant in the State of Nebraska.”

Just a few years ago, as The Denver Post reports, the Attorneys General of Nebraska and Oklahoma sued to have neighboring Colorado’s legal pot laws overturned, saying that Colorado pot was coming into their states and causing headaches for law enforcement and social services. The Supreme Court refused to hear their case.


In Mississippi, advocates are gathering signatures to put the Mississippi Marijuana Legalization Amendment on the ballot. Like Nebraska’s petition, Mississippi’s would amend the state’s constitution to allow individuals age 18 and older to buy and possess cannabis. The amendment would put 40 percent of the tax revenue generated by legalizing cannabis into education funding, 40 percent into health-care funding, and the remaining 20 percent into the state’s general fund.

South Dakota

In South Dakota, advocates are working to get enough signatures to put the South Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative on the ballot. The effort would legalize cannabis use for persons 21 years of age or older, would forbid municipalities from taxing marijuana and pot paraphernalia, and would forbid law enforcement from keeping state records of marijuana and/or marijuana paraphernalia convictions.