Cannabis legislation in the United States is experiencing significant changes as the country embraces the de-stigmatization of marijuana. Public opinion on cannabis has shifted considerably, with 59% of Americans supporting both medical and recreational use. This growing acceptance is reflected in state laws, as 42% of states have legalized recreational marijuana, including populous states like California, New York, and Illinois. Additionally, 37 states have approved medical marijuana, with varying restrictions and allowances for THC and CBD oils. Only 2 states and 10% of Americans do not approve CBD or marijuana use at all, showing these attitudes towards marijuana are in the minority.
What States are Legal?
While hemp-based CBD is legal at the federal level, state-level cannabis legislation remains complex. The majority of legalization victories have occurred at the state and local levels, with expectations of continued progress in 2023. It is projected that seven new states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, may approve recreational marijuana by 2030, following the path set by existing legalized states. This will shift the balance of power in favor of legalized marijuana, alluding to a future federal-wide legalization effort.
President Joe Biden has expressed support for marijuana legalization, acknowledging the disproportionate impact of non-violent marijuana possession charges on minority groups, such as thousands of African Americans. Efforts are underway to rectify past injustices, including Biden’s executive order to pardon non-violent offenders convicted of marijuana possession. Furthermore, various federal bills have been introduced to loosen restrictions and address the social and economic consequences of cannabis criminalization.
The evolving landscape of cannabis legislation suggests a future where prohibitive laws are replaced by more progressive policies. Federal acts such as the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), Cannabis Opportunity Act (CAOA), and Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE) aim to ease restrictions and support those affected by past criminalization. With the changing attitudes and legislations towards cannabis, it is expected that the United States will witness a significant transformation in marijuana regulations in the coming decades.
As these legislative shifts occur, it is important to recognize the potential benefits and challenges that accompany cannabis legalization. The industry presents opportunities for economic growth, job creation, and tax revenue generation. However, it also requires careful regulation to ensure public safety, responsible use, and equitable access to opportunities within the cannabis market. Striking a balance between freedom of choice, social equity, and public health will be crucial as the US navigates the changing landscape of cannabis legislation.