The Rise of Cannabis: Trends of Social and Political Support
As the United States progresses to a more liberal society, laws against the usage of cannabis have been relaxed, or even abolished, to follow a trend of decreased disapproval of marijuana users by society. This means that while marijuana used to be illegal, and looked down upon by society, the United States is growing increasingly supportive of the legalization of marijuana. Thirty-nine states have currently legalized the use of marijuana in one way or another. Some have fully legalized all usage of it, others have only legalized the use of non-psychoactive marijuana for medicinal purposes(1). Either way, the statistics have greatly improved since the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, where marijuana was completely banned in all states. In today’s world, people are beginning to witness the beginnings of a legalization revolution.
There are two main factors which go into the legalization of marijuana, the government’s ability to regulate it, and the people’s approval of its usage. Marijuana usage has a majority approval rate of 53%. While this statistic is down from the all-time high of 58%, it is still up from the original statistics, collected in 1962, where it had an approval rate of a mere 12%(2). Also, there are currently four states, and the District of Columbia, where the usage of marijuana has been fully legalized for both medicinal and non-medicinal purposes(3). This is up from just five years ago, in 2010, where there was neither an American state nor an American district to have fully legalized the use of cannabis.
The other factor which goes into legalizing marijuana, the government’s ability to regulate it, is slowly evolving into an obtainable goal. On 1 January 2014, Colorado became the first state to host a legal non-medicinal cannabis dispensary. They would sell to anybody over the age of twenty-one, and abided by all state regulations. This was the first sign of showing steps towards the government being willing to regulate marijuana. Since then, dispensaries have opened up in all four states which have fully legalized the use of cannabis, Alaska, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon(4).
To conclude, while the United States has not nationally legalized cannabis yet, there is a clear trend of approval of the recreational usage of marijuana. In 2011, California narrowly vetoed an initiative to approve the legalization of recreational cannabis. It is predicted that the next time California holds an initiative to legalize marijuana, it will succeed(5). A copycat trend of this is beginning to form throughout all the states. With the trend of social approval towards cannabis, is coming a trend for legalization. This is the beginning of the legalization revolution.
(1) "Legality of Cannabis by U.S. Jurisdiction." Wikipedia. September 3, 2015. Accessed September 3, 2015. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_cannabis_by_U.S._jurisdiction
(2) "Majority Continues to Support Pot Legalization in U.S." Gallup.com. November 6, 2014. Accessed September 3, 2015. http://www.gallup.com/poll/179195/majority-continues-support-pot-legalization.aspx.
(3) "Legality of Cannabis by U.S. Jurisdiction." Wikipedia. September 3, 2015. Accessed September 3, 2015. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_cannabis_by_U.S._jurisdiction.
(4) "10 Things to Know about Colorado's Recreational Marijuana Shops - CNN.com." CNN. 2014. Accessed September 3, 2015. http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/28/us/10-things-colorado-recreational-marijuana/.
(5) "7 States On the Verge of Marijuana Legalization." The Cheat Sheet. June 19, 2015. Accessed September 3, 2015. http://www.cheatsheet.com/business/5-states-and-one-city-ready-to-legalize-marijuana.html/?a=viewall.