"This is an issue that hasn't been ready for primetime yet in the South. It may be that it's starting to be, and that's a good thing," Jill Harris, managing director of Drug Policy Action, told the Associated Press last year.
To be sure, the South and Midwest have remained mostly on the sidelines in the nation's marijuana-reform movement. Voters in the one semi-southern state to put it on the ballot last year – Arkansas – rebuffed it by a narrow margin.
Resisters cite culture and religious values and traditions, but others suggest political opposition may have more to do with the flow of government resources, says former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper, including the prison industrial complex that’s rooted deeply in the South.
“Everyone who profits from the drug war, from the prison industrial complex to violent cartels and street traffickers, is invested in maintaining the status quo,” writes Mr. Stamper on Friday, in the Huffington Post.
Yet with the South being a complex creature, there are countervailing trends that suggest legalization isn’t such a long shot.
For one, states with different traditions but similar political mindset as Southern states – think Alaska – are putting legalization measures on the ballot next year.