In the United States, 11 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. The states where it’s legal to use marijuana recreationally include Washington, Vermont, Oregon, Nevada, Michigan, Maine, Massachusetts, Illinois, Alaska, Colorado, and California. They are among the 30 states marijuana use for recreational, medical, research or other purposes are now legal. It signals a changing national outlook on marijuana use.
A New Perspective
Not long ago, possessing or using marijuana for any reason could land you in jail. Today, many people around the country see using marijuana as an effective way to relax and a viable option for treating a variety of health conditions. Plus, the Baby Boomers, the generation that has long embraced marijuana use, are now in decision making positions. They have played a major role in changing the national perception about the safety and efficacy of using marijuana for fun and healing. And now that open-mindedness towards marijuana use has the power of legal acceptance behind it.
A Tax Bonanza For States
States from coast to coast are beginning to embrace the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana because of all the tax revenue it can provide. Recreational marijuana use has been steady or rising nationwide for decades. And it generates hundreds of millions of dollars that goes into the coffers of drug cartels and other nefarious characters. States have come to see that by legalizing recreational marijuana use, some of the money it generates could become tax revenue they could use to balance their budgets and finance much needed projects and services.
Stop Criminalizing Users
Many young people have had lives full of promise derailed because they were arrested and jailed for possessing small amounts of marijuana. The stigma of having a marijuana possession conviction on their record has played a significant role in blocking many intelligent, talented, young people from getting gainful employment. Instead of getting jobs that best utilize their potential and lead to good, solid, careers, many convicted marijuana users have ended up settling for menial, low paying, jobs. Legalizing recreational use of marijuana has helped to transform many marijuana users from criminals, to gainfully employed, productive, citizens who use marijuana for fun.
Less Strain On Law Enforcement
Between 2001 and 2010, police arrested a court and jail clogging 8.2 million people on marijuana charges. Of those arrests, 88% were for simple possession. Millions of law enforcement man hours were spent arresting and prosecuting people who had a joint or two. Those millions of people had to be processed and moved through the criminal justice system. They took up limited jail space and contributed to jail overcrowding. Legalizing recreational use of marijuana has enable law enforcement agents to spend more time arresting and prosecuting criminals involved in more serious, violent, crimes and freed up precious space in jails and prisons to incarcerate them.
More States Considering Legalization
A growing number of other states are poised to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. That’s because a large number of pro-marijuana legalization gubernatorial candidates were voted into power during the last few election cycles. This has given a huge boost to the chances of bills being signed into law soon that will give adults in more states the right to legally use marijuana recreationally. Plus, increasing public support for legalizing recreational marijuana use is forcing more and more state lawmakers to craft reforms in marijuana policy.
Which States Are Next
Research has shown several states are on the verge of legalizing recreational marijuana use. Some of those states include:
- Rhode Island
- New York
- New Mexico
- New Jersey
- New Hampshire
Some Motivating Factors
Steadily growing public support nationwide for state-level reforms in marijuana policy is the most powerful factor driving the change in policies controlling legalized recreational marijuana use. During his campaign Democrat Ned Lamont, Connecticut’s governor-elect, said marijuana legalization is among his ‘priorities’ for 2019. Plus, Connecticut’s state Senate president had sponsored a marijuana legalization bill last year saying it’s one of the state’s most significant revenue items he thinks would pass if brought to a vote. Minnesota’s incoming Democratic governor Tim Walz said marijuana legalization would grow jobs, build opportunities for Minnesotans and create tax revenue. He authored the country’s first standalone cannabis bill which passed a congressional committee when he was a U.S. House member.
In New Hampshire, Republican governor Chris Sununu signed a marijuana possession decriminalization bill into law in 2017. The incoming state House speaker says there’s enough support in the state legislature for passing a marijuana legalization bill. New Jersey Democratic governor Phil Murphy campaigned on supporting marijuana legalization legislation when he was elected in 2017 and has continued to push for it since his inauguration. New Jersey Assembly and Senate committees recently approved marijuana legalization legislation. Michelle Lujan Grisham, New Mexico’s new Democratic governor has said legalizing marijuana will provide the state’s economy with ‘millions of dollars’. While in Congress, Grisham supported cannabis reform measures.
Many observers have long thought New York would legalize recreational use of marijuana. The state’s Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo has recently said now is the time for recreational use of marijuana by adults to be legalized and he created a task force to draft cannabis legalization legislation. Gina Raimondo, Rhode Island’s Democratic governor has said legalization of cannabis use in neighboring states may effectively ‘peer pressure’ Rhode Island to legalize recreational use of marijuana. Vermont lawmakers legalized home cultivation and possession of marijuana in small amounts in 2018 and the state Republican governor Phil Scott recently signed some modest pro marijuana legislation into law.
Other States Are Considering It Cannabis Moves To Watch
In addition to the states mentioned above, there are also grassroots and legislative initiatives going on in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Texas, South Carolina, Ohio, Arizona, Florida, North Dakota, Nebraska, Mississippi and South Dakota that could make legalization of recreational marijuana use a reality in those states in the not too distant future.
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