Not many years back, the thought of legalized marijuana in the US was unheard of even though states were allowing for medical marijuana use; recreational use was not up for debate. Fast forward, and there are now nine states that have legalized the adult possession of marijuana — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. These states have led the charge, and the six following states are likely to be next.
Voters in Michigan will get the opportunity to weigh in on recreational marijuana legalization Nov 6th. If the legislation passes, Michigan could have similar facilities to the San Francisco marijuana dispensaries where people twenty-one and over can come and purchase marijuana. There are some caveats to the new law, such as only being able to buy up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal, recreational use with an allowance of 10 ounces of marijuana able to be kept at home. The state will also enforce a 10% excise tax at the retail level along with the state’s six percent sales tax.
Legalization in New Jersey is underway though some say it may take longer than initially believed. Since Governor Philip D Murphy was sworn into office, he’s been working on the legalization full time. He says it would create $80 million in annual tax revenue but understands this is no easy undertaking since it is creating a new industry from scratch. After the marijuana facility in New Jersey opened for medical marijuana, people started flowing into the doors in less than an hour.
3. North Dakota
Pro-legalization supporters submitted more than 18,000 signatures to the secretary of state in support of a measure that would fully legalize the drug which means it is going to the ballot in November. The main points of the bill would legalize the possession, sale, and use of marijuana for those twenty-one and older in North Dakota. Besides for no longer being illegal, those with marijuana convictions would have them expunged from their record. There are questions to be answered, but supporters are hopeful.
4. New York
Gov. Andrew M Cuomo almost went as far as to say he would support legalization in New York. He noted their neighboring state of New Jersey would soon legalize marijuana which would make it difficult to stop the flow of drugs into New York. He said it would be more about specifics since the devil is in the details.
There is a 74-page study on the potential impact of regulated marijuana on New York State which acknowledges that regulating marijuana would help with job creation, reduce criminalization and incarceration of ethnic minorities as well as reduce the use of opioids and synthetic cannabinoids.
Voters have approved medical marijuana legalization in Oklahoma which made them the 30th state to approve medical marijuana legalization. This fall there is likely to be even broader reforms as supporters push to get the few thousand signatures needed to place the adult use legalization measure on the November ballot.
More roadblocks come up for the legalization of marijuana in Delaware, but the push continues. With a majority of lawmakers in the Delaware House of Representatives voting in favor of legislation to legalize marijuana possession and sales, the bill did not advance because of procedural rules requiring supermajority support.
What Are the Benefits of Legalization of Marijuana?
With many people on the fence about whether marijuana should be legalized for medical use, recreational use or not at all, it leaves people questioning what the benefits of legalization of marijuana are for the state, the country and people living in these areas.
More than half of US adults have tried marijuana even with marijuana being illegal under federal law. Each year, over 600,000 Americans are arrested for possessing marijuana. Today 64% of people support legalizing marijuana. Colorado and Washington were the first two states to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2012.
Pro-marijuana legalization supporters say it will add billions of dollars to the economy, aid in the creation of thousands of jobs, reduce the number of resources needed from police, stop racial disparities in marijuana enforcement and more. Lowering street crime and taking business away from drug cartels are other benefits noted by supports as well as making marijuana safer for consumers.
The argument that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and that adults should have the right to use it is one of the biggest arguments supporters have.
There is research underway to support the claims of these various benefits of legalization of marijuana, and some reports have already come out showing that the economy does, in fact, benefit from the legalization of marijuana. According to Alicia Wallace from The Cannabist, the marijuana industry in the US could exceed $24 billion in revenue by 2025.
Many people have the mentality that since the majority of people living in the US want the legalization of marijuana, federal lawmakers have to take note and give the people what they want. As more and more states continue to legalize medical and recreational marijuana, the gap between state law and federal law will continue to grow. President Trump noted that he has no intention of getting in the way of state law and intends to allow states to enact their laws regarding medical and recreational use of marijuana.