It’s fair to say that times are changing in regards to how to both the American public and lawmakers view marijuana. Once seen as a substance that required the harshest of legislation and resulted in long prison sentences for those caught in possession, marijuana is now viewed very differently by both lawmakers and the general public.
The legal position of marijuana – which is also known as cannabis – can be somewhat hazy – especially given the law changes are occurring on a state-by-state, rather than federal, level. As a result, below, we have compiled a simple guide to marijuana in the US, covering everything from the reasons for the perception shift to the states that are most likely to opt for full legalization in 2019…
Which US states have legalized marijuana?
Marijuana of a sort was first legalized in 1996, when California allowed marijuana to be prescribed for medical purposes – a trend that was soon repeated across a number of other states. However, the most significant shift came in 2012, when both Colorado and Washington voted to legalized marijuana for all – rather than just medicinal – purposes.
Which US states could legalize marijuana next?
A number of lawmakers in the following states have expressed a desire to end marijuana prohibition in 2019:
- New Mexico
- New York
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
In addition, states such as Texas and Pennsylvania could see legalization over the course of the next two years.
Why have attitudes to marijuana changed?
In many ways, the attitude change is more about correcting previous misconceptions. Marijuana gained a bad reputation that years of research have since indicated it did not ever really deserve; in particular, studies have shown that marijuana is safer than alcohol and tobacco, both of which are legal. As a result of this research, and concern related to the severity of prison sentences related to marijuana possession, the perception of marijuana has altered dramatically.
In addition, marijuana is now a legitimate industry, with the potential to bring huge profits to states that opt for legalization. As well as tax revenues from growers themselves, the industry has also given way to supporting enterprises such as those specializing in marijuana marketing and SEO. For lawmakers, the opportunity to encourage these businesses is undeniably attractive, especially when such changes are backed by public support – studies have shown around 62% of Americans now believe that marijuana should be legalized.
For politicians, supporting the legalization of marijuana is thus becoming something of a “no brainer” – a way to raise revenue, increase the number of available jobs, and encourage entrepreneurship across a variety of sectors.
What is the future for marijuana in the US?
The political will in support of marijuana is – in most states – very strong, with the opportunity for business growth and development seemingly exponential, and high levels of public support. These factors, combined with new evidence relating to marijuana’s relative safety when compared to other substances, suggest that the future for marijuana marketing in the US is very bright indeed.