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Supporters and Critics of Marijuana Legalization See 2014 as Key Year

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Both supporters and critics of marijuana legalization see 2014 as a key year, which could either slow or hasten their efforts, The New York Times reports.

More than half of states are considering decriminalizing marijuana, or legalizing it for medical or recreational use, the article notes. The two states considered most likely to follow Washington state and Colorado in legalizing recreational marijuana are Oregon and Alaska. This week, Alaska certified a petition campaign for a measure that calls for the state to legalize the sale and recreational use of marijuana for adults. Voters will cast ballots on the measure this summer.

Supporters point to polls that show a growing number of Americans back legalization. They also cite the Treasury Department’s recent guidelines that are designed to make it easier for banks to deal with legal marijuana businesses, and President Obama’s remarks on the discriminatory effect of marijuana prosecutions.

Critics are hopeful that many governors and state legislators will want to wait and see how legalization plays out in Colorado and Washington before pushing ahead quickly with legalizing marijuana in their own states.

“We feel that if Oregon or Alaska could be stopped, it would disrupt the whole narrative these groups have that legalization is inevitable,” said Kevin A. Sabet, Executive Director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which opposes legalization initiatives. “We could stop that momentum.”

At least 14 states are considering medical marijuana measures this year. In Florida, an initiative has already qualified for the ballot. Medical marijuana is legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia. In 12 states and the District of Columbia, proposed measures would decriminalize marijuana.

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