Recent years have seen a massive shift in attitudes about marijuana. 420 changes that only a few years ago seemed impossible are now happening, one state at a time. Like other social issues (marriage equality, for example), changes are coming because a growing number of people are recognizing that some laws are just ridiculous.
The medical use of marijuana is now legal in nearly half of U.S. states, with that number growing like weed. Cannabis is well-known to be useful for a variety of medical situations, including some cases where cannabis works better than any other treatments. Some common medical uses of cannabis include chronic pain management, control of nausea during cancer treatment, and to help appetite for people who are living with cancer or HIV.
Legal 4/20 restrictions in the U.S. started by 1906 in Washington, D.C. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 banned both hemp and marijuana in the U.S. Despite the 1937 ban, weed was openly grown even in New York City into the early 1950s. The attempts at banning weed are relatively new historically. Considering that a 2012 United Nations report described marijuana as “the world’s most widely produced, trafficked, and consumed drug in the world” with as many as 224 million adult users worldwide, the attempts by governments to get rid of the herb have obviously failed.
Still, despite widespread usage around the world, the U.S. government insists on classifying marijuana as a dangerous drug. In the face of a growing number of states simply ignoring the federal government and passing their own marijuana laws, the federal government recently announced that it would reconsider the drug classification.
There has been a groundswell of 420 changes in recent years. The movement seems to gain momentum each year as social norms and societal attitudes change toward marijuana. These changes are being seen first in states and cities, which in turn put pressure on the federal government to join the 21st century.
Four states have legalized marijuana for both recreational and medical use. Additionally, several cities have legalized marijuana. Twelve states have now both decriminalized marijuana and legalized medical marijuana. Another 10 states, plus the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico, have legalized medical marijuana. Three states, plus the U.S. Virgin Islands, have yet to legalize marijuana, but have at least decriminalized it.
This still leaves more than 20 states that still criminalize marijuana for every reason. If you live in one of these states it may be time to consider a move!
The state of Washington was the first state to legalize marijuana in 2012. Colorado soon followed Washington in allowing marijuana use in 2012. Alaska legalized marijuana in 2014. Oregon legalized marijuana in 2014, with several reforms passed in 2014 and 2015.
States that have legalized marijuana also set restrictions on growing, dispensing, buying and possession of marijuana. The states also tax the sale of marijuana, making a hefty contribution to state budgets. In these states the marijuana industry is an ordered and regulated business like any other.