- Marijuana legalization initiatives swept the US last year.
- President Donald Trump signed the Farm Bill into law in December of last year, which legalised hemp.
- Michigan became the 10th state to legalise recreational marijuana during last year’s midterm elections. Utah and Missouri both voted to legalise medical marijuana.
- Recreational marijuana is now legal in 10 states; medical marijuana is legal in 33.
President Donald Trump signed the bipartisan Farm Bill into law in December of last year, which legalised hemp – a plant that’s roughly identical to marijuana but doesn’t contain THC, a psychoactive compound in marijuana – nationwide.
Hemp is also a source of CBD, or cannabidiol, a popular, if scientifically untested ingredient in many cannabis-infused products.
In last year’s midterm elections, Michigan became the 10th state to legalise recreational marijuana, and Utah and Missouri voted to legalise medical marijuana.
Deep-red Oklahoma also voted to legalise medical marijuana last year, joining numerous other states that have such laws on the books.
Vermont became the first state to legalise marijuana through its Legislature last year as well, rather than a ballot initiative when the governor signed the bill into law.
Ten states and Washington, DC, have now legalised marijuana for recreational use for adults over 21. And 33 states have legalised medical marijuana.
Marijuana prohibition began 80 years ago when the federal government banned the sale, cultivation, and use of the cannabis plant. It remains illegal at the federal level.
Overturning prohibition is one of the few hot-button topics with widespread support.
A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that 62% of Americans, including 74% of millennials, said they supported legalizing marijuana.
Last year was also a banner year for marijuana legalization globally.
Last, October Canada legalised marijuana federally, becoming the first G7 country to do so.
Mexico’s Supreme Court also ruled that marijuana prohibition is unconstitutional, paving the way for the country’s new leader, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to follow Canada’s lead.
Melia Robinson contributed to an earlier version of this post.
- Read more:
- ‘Everybody thinks they’re going to make billions overnight’: Mexico’s former president says the cannabis industry isn’t a gold rush
- Old-school accounting firms are finding the emerging marijuana industry to be an unexpected goldmine – and a minefield
- A cannabis CEO who led turnarounds at FAO Schwarz and Patagonia explains why he’s looking to poach ‘nimble’ people from small companies – rather than big-name execs
- An early investor in Juul is raising $US75 million to make venture investments in pot companies
Adults 21 and over can light up in Alaska. In early 2015, the northernmost US state made it legal for residents to use, possess, and transport up to an ounce of marijuana– roughly a sandwich bag full – for recreational use. The first pot shop opened for business in late 2016.
Alaska has pounced on the opportunity to make its recreational pot shops a destination for tourists. More than two million people visit Alaska annually and spend $US2 billion.
California was the first state to legalise medical marijuana back in 1996. California became even more pot-friendly in 2016 when it made it legal to use and carry up to an ounce of marijuana.
The law also permits adults 21 and over to buy up to eight grams of marijuana concentrates, which are found in edibles, and grow no more than six marijuana plants per household.
Getting Californians to buy legal weed – rather than from the black market – has been challenging since the law took effect,The New York Times reports.
Residents and tourists over the age of 21 can buy up to one ounce of marijuana or eight grams of concentrates. Some Colorado counties and cities have passed more restrictive laws.
A ballot initiative in 2016 gave Mainers the right to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, more than double the limit in most other states.
Maine’s legislature is still ironing out the details of how, and when, recreational pot shops will open in the state.
In 2016, Massachusetts gave residents the green light to carry and use an ounce of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants in their homes.
The first pot shops opened in the state last year, with more to come in 2019, reports The Boston Globe.
Voters in Michigan passed Proposition 1 last year, making it the first state in the Midwest to legalise the possession and sale of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. The bill allows adults to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and allows residents to grow up to 12 plants at home.
The law is more permissive than other states with legal marijuana: Most allow residents to only possess up to an ounce at a time.
Residents and tourists who are 21 and over can buy an ounce of marijuana or one-eighth of an ounce of edibles or concentrates in Nevada – while supplies last. Less than two weeks after sales of recreational weed began on July 1, 2017, many stores ran out of marijuana to sell.
The state has earned nearly $US20 million in marijuana tax revenuesince the market launched.
There’s bad news if you want to grow your own bud, though. Nevada residents must live 25 miles outside the nearest dispensary in order to be eligible for a grower’s licence.
Oregonians have enjoyed the right to carry an ounce of weed and grow up to four plants at home since 2015.
Sales in Oregon pot shops have exploded since legalization: they’re expected to top $US1 billion by 2020, reports The Portland Business Journal.
Vermont became the first state to legalise marijuana through the legislature, rather than a ballot initiative, when Republic Governor Phil Scott signed a bill into law in January of last year.
Adults in the Green Mountain State will be able to carry up to an ounce of marijuana and grow no more than two plants for recreational use. The new law goes into effect in July. But the bill is limited in scope. It doesn’t establish a legal market for production and sale of the drug.
Dispensaries in Washington have raked in over $US1 billion in non-medical marijuana sales since the drug was legalised for recreational use in 2012.
The state allows people to carry up to an ounce of marijuana, but they must require the drug for medicinal purposes in order to be eligible for a grower’s licence.
Residents in the nation’s capital voted overwhelmingly to legalise marijuana for adult use in November 2014.
The bill took effect in 2015, allowing people to possess two ounces or less of marijuana and “gift” up to an ounce, if neither money nor goods or services are exchanged.
New York, New Jersey, and Illinois may be next
Since Massachusetts opened its first pot shops in November, states around the Northeast are hopping aboard the green train.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made legalizing marijuana a top priority for the first hundred days of his third term as governor. And New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has said legalizing marijuana is at the top of his list for 2019, reports NorthJersey.com.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker campaigned heavily on legalizing marijuana – so expect movement from Illinois as well.
While the federal government under President Trump is no friend to marijuana reform laws, it’s likely that we’ll see action from Congress – with a Democrat-controlled House – easing tax burdens and banking restrictions on marijuana businesses, and expanding access to medical marijuana.
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