Moving forward with marijuana legalization seems straightforward in some Democratic-led states, while it consistently hits roadblocks among the more conservative legislative groups. However, the problem no longer falls along the lines of the political parties.

A recent vote on New Jersey marijuana legalization shows that, more than a matter of red or blue, the issue has finer nuances that can throw a wrench into a seemingly smooth path to legalization.

The issue has become intricate enough that professors like Daniel Mallinson of Penn State-Harrisburg make the topic a focus of study. Meanwhile, anti-legalization groups like Smart Approaches to Marijuana, find hope in moves like the postponement yet again of a vote to legalize in New Jersey. For Smart Approaches leader Kevin Sabet, the tabling of that vote lets other state leaders know they aren’t going to be forced into legalization if they find it an unwise move.

Many of those in favour of the move to legalize note that a telling statistic is the fact that, of the 10 states with current legalization of recreational use of marijuana, that move was made through voter referendum rather than legislative vote. The voters are overwhelmingly in favour of legalization – to the tune of 2/3 of the U.S. population according to polls. However, the legislators tend to move more cautiously and therefore are not necessarily voting in reflection of their constituents’ preference.

The slow progress of this movement in state legislature is not a total surprise to those who follow the movement, considering the fact the drug remains illegal at the federal level and has been illegal for five decades. Anything with that long a history of prohibition will take time to change the minds of the legislative masses – even if it has already won over the minds and hearts of the majority of the U.S. population.

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