Cannabis remains illegal at the federal level. However, medical marijuana is legal in 35 states, as well as the District of Columbia. In 11 of these jurisdictions and Washington, D.C., recreational use of marijuana is permitted. The adult-use program, however, is for those aged at least 21 years. Today, about 69 percent of Americans live in a state with legalized recreational or medical cannabis use. Voters in six states shared their views on the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana during the November 2020 elections. According to a Pew Research study conducted in November 2019, nine out of 10 people in the U.S. favor the legalization of either adult-use or medical cannabis. Support for the legalization of marijuana crossed party lines. This has improved since the origins of 420.
Legalization Updates Following the November 2020 Elections
Liberals and conservatives have different reasons for backing legalization. This signifies that the national consensus is growing, and the November 2020 elections reflected this observation. Experts expect the green wave to continue spreading.
The MORE Act
For example, Massachusetts was the first state in the United States to criminalize recreational cannabis more than a century ago. Voters in the state then elected to legalize it in 2016. Today, most patients in the state know how to get a medical cannabis card in Massachusetts. Recently, however, marijuana advocates in the state urged the senate to do what the house did. That is to decriminalize and tax marijuana at the federal level.
The MORE Act passed 228 to 164. This act could make marijuana legal and allow individual states to come up with their marijuana laws. It would also tax marijuana to provide funds for the reversal of federal cannabis arrests and convictions. The funds would also help to address the issues affecting communities ravaged by the War on Drugs.
After the vote, the cannabis reform coalition in Massachusetts urged the senate and Leader Mitch McConnell to vote in favor of the act. With Republicans currently in control of the senate, however, the path forward is not clear.
Legalization Strides Across the United States
Marijuana legalization was an important issue in the 2020 elections. It was competing against an economic crisis, COVID-19, and an unpredictable Commander in Chief. That said, the issue of cannabis legalization has always been something of a slow burn. Interestingly, many voters in states where cannabis legalization is on the ballot found more enthusiasm in this issue than almost any other.
Voters delivered an overwhelming mandate for the legal use of recreational marijuana in South Dakota, New Jersey, Montana, and Arizona. They also approved medical marijuana use in South Dakota and Mississippi. Currently, only 15 states in the country still criminalize the use of cannabis in any form.
The campaign to promote acceptance and advance formal policy on a drug once widely hated is reaching the tipping point. What is driving the legalization of marijuana is a change in attitude. At the federal level, the outlook for the legalization of marijuana remains uncertain.