More than a year ago we started our series rating all fifty states on cannabis and last week we named Oregon as the top state. During that year, much has happened in the cannabis world, including some changes in various states that would have changed their rankings had they occurred previously. For example, we ranked Arkansas at number 40, which is now way too low for considering it has legalized medical cannabis. The same could be said of North Dakota, which we ranked at 33, but then turned around and surprised many by also voting to legalize medical marijuana.
Needless to say, many of our rankings engendered considerable controversy, particularly with respect to those states that substantially changed course after we had ranked them. So to salve at least some of you who were unhappy with our rankings, I very briefly will analyze the sort of changes we would make were we to start all over today, which we are not going to do, at least for the foreseeable future.
We ranked South Dakota as the worst state for cannabis. Oklahoma and Idaho were also extremely close for this not-so-honorable distinction. These states generally have extremely harsh cannabis laws and no working form of medical marijuana, with many only allowing for High-CBD oil, if anything. Montana voted to reform its medical marijuana laws and that alone means that in any re-do Montana would rank higher for cannabis than the number 41 ranking we gave it.
Like the bottom-ten, these states generally have harsh criminal penalties for cannabis and poor medical cannabis laws. This group though would look very different if we were to conduct a re-ranking since North Dakota, Florida, and Arkansas all legalized medical marijuana in November and those changes would catapult these states much higher in the rankings.
These states generally have some good laws, be those fairly tolerant criminal laws or workable medical cannabis programs. Overall, these states did not change much since we ranked them. Interestingly, we probably received more criticism for our Arizona ranking than for any other state, with countless people e-mailing to insist that Arizona would be legalizing soon. Instead, Arizona was the only state that failed to approve a marijuana initiative on its ballot in 2016 and so its ranking would — if anything probably decline a few slots if we were to re-rank.
These states are ahead of the curve with medical marijuana and had reasonable criminal penalties. However, in one of our more controversial rankings, we put Kentucky relatively high in our rankings not so much because of its mediocre medical marijuana program, but because it is a leader in reforming hemp laws.
Our top ten featured the eight states that legalized recreational marijuana along with several states that have truly impressive medical marijuana programs. If we had it to do over again, we would rank Nevada right above New Mexico, but when we slotted Nevada in the 9 spot, it had yet to legalize recreational marijuana.
What do you think of our rankings now?