Marijuana Legalization: What everyone needs to know

Colorado is the first state in the US that approved the ballot in the 2012 Election to initiate marijuana legalization for recreational use.

As the public of all other eighteen states including Washington DC is supporting marijuana legalization, it is expected that they would legalize the use of marijuana in the next nine coming years. But drug use for even recreational purposes is still banned at the federal level.

The article translates marijuana legalization: what everyone needs to know.

What is Marijuana and why it is still illegal at the Federal level

Marijuana is said to be one of the most used drugs and is often referred to with different names such as grass, dope, weed, and pot. The drug is taken from the cannabis plant. It can be smoked, vaped, drank, and eaten. It is used for both pleasure and recreational purposes.

There is a wide gap in understanding the myths and science around it. However, it is legal in some states, this is why people often consider it legal and safe to use. Some variants of this weed include a psychotic compound known as THC that levitates the mind-altering effect on your brain and body.

To date, the legalization of the cannabis drug has become a hot topic among Republicans and Democratic politicians. Not only this, but the state legislators also are arguing with ifs and hows of legalization of the marijuana drug. Several bills concerning marijuana including the one aimed to decriminalize the drug have been presented at the congress on the federal level.

It has been thought by opponents that the drug contains risks of public health and safety. Some of them are morally against its legalization. The ones that support, however, say that if alcohol is legal at a specific age, then why not marijuana as this is not dangerous as alcohol could be in certain conditions. To back the statements, its therapeutic benefits like pain relief and stress are used as evidence.

Advocates, on the other hand, see marijuana as a moneymaker and as an initiative to prevail social justice for states. The ones that are affected by Marijuana laws within states are the minorities contributing to mass incarceration.

States that have legalized the use of this drug should proactively address the possible outcomes of marijuana prohibition. These prohibitions often end up allowing provisions of marijuana and vacation of lesser marijuana convictions.

States that have legalized Marijuana for recreational use

  • Alaska
  • Washington
  • Colorado
  • Oregon
  • California
  • Nevada
  • Washington D.C.
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Massachusetts
  • Vermont
  • Illinois
  • Guam
  • Montana
  • Arizona
  • South Dakota ( a petition was filed and approved, but the lawsuit in the reference is pending)
  • New York
  • New Mexico
  • Virginia
  • Connecticut

Some of the states mentioned above have not completely legalized marijuana for recreational purposes Dispensary retails of the drugs will have provisions later in the year except Vermont. In Vermont, the retailers are expected to begin receiving their licenses for the marijuana trade in October 2022.

For the District of Columbia, a recreational marijuana regulatory agency has yet to establish who will look after the dispensary sales for the state.

As for Guam, the policy for ownership of the cannabis business was approved in June this year but they are still seeking changes in it.

States have their own stand when it comes to legalizing marijuana and providing licensing for dispensary purchases. Similarly, states where the drug is legalized obligate businesses to have a license to pursue.

Additionally, the states have regulated sales taxes at different rates and different levels. Many states impose an excise tax on drug-like particular consumer goods. Eventually, the additional taxes and duties will pass down to the consumers in the form of the total product’s price.

The marijuana laws provide provision to an adult about what amount of the drug he or she can consume if he/she grows marijuana or cannabis plant. Plus, the same law specifies how the tax revenue would be generated and vary from one state to another.

State by State Marijuana Laws and provisions

Colorado – Approved Legalization by November 2021

In Colorado – adults with the age of 21 and over can keep and sell one ounce of marijuana and have the provision of growing six to twelve plants. Here, the law applies to a house no matter how many individuals live there. Using and selling marijuana in the open and public is still illegal in Colorado. 

The dispensary sales are subjected to add 10% additional sales tax with the standard tax. A 15% excise tax is also implied on the price of the wholesale price of marijuana. This is the price that the businesses pay to the cultivators of marijuana.

Washington – Approved Legalization by November 2021

Washington allows adults of 21 years of age and over, can possess and buy one ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of infused solid form of edible marijuana, 72 ounces liquid form of marijuana, and are allowed to have 7 grams concentrates of marijuana.

In Washington, it is illegal to use the drug in public, and restrictions to grow marijuana in homes for recreational use are in place.  Sales are legal only at licensed dispensaries. There is a 37% excise tax on retail sales.

Alaska –  Approved Legalization by November 2014

In Alaska, the age restriction for the use of an ounce of marijuana is over 21. They are also allowed to grow Marijuana for up to 6 months. In which three of them can be matured. It is illegal to use Marijuana in public.

Licensed dispensaries are allowed for the retail sales of the drug. Arizona levies an excise tax, which is the liability of the cultivator.

Washington, D.C. – Approved Legalization by November 2014

For Washington D.C., it is legal for adults over 21y/o to use and grow Marijuana. They can grow up to 6 of which 3 can be matured.

Unlike other states, Marijuana recreational sales are not legal in Washington. This is because Congressional Republication consistently includes language in approving bills to prevent the district from independent regulatory board formation. As the retail sales of recreational cannabis are illegal, the adult use of Marijuana in D.C. relies on gifting. 

Oregon –  Approved Legalization by November 2014

In contrast to any other states mentioned above, adults over 21 years of age can possess and use marijuana in public. But the amount of Marijuana to use in public is limited. Up to 8 ounces of Marijuana can be used at home.

Oregon has much leniency compared to other states. As it allows adults to have Marijuana up to 16 ounces in the edible solid form and 72 ounces in liquid.

Similar to every state, it is illegal to use Marijuana in public, you can only possess it. Plus, adults are allowed to grow four plants.

Retail sales are allowed on the licensed dispensaries only with a tax of 17%. And in other cases in counties and cities, 3% additional taxes can be applied to the retailer.

Massachusetts –  Approved Legalization by November 2016

Adults in Massachusetts can have one ounce of marijuana in person and 10 ounces at home. Adults are also allowed to cultivate the cannabis plant up to 6 plants per person and in a household of two or more residents, growing 12 cannabis plants is legal.

Licensed dispensaries are only eligible to sell marijuana. Tax is applied according to the standard sales amount. A state excise tax of 10.75% has also been imposed on retail sales. Counties and towns can raise the marijuana sales tax up to 3%.

Is Marijuana legal at the Federal level?

At the Federal level, Marijuana is stated as a Schedule I drug under the Act of controlled substances. According to this act, Marijuana has no medical use and can be highly abused if regulated freely.  This means that Marijuana is neither legal nor allowed to use at the Federal level and no regulated committee has been formed for the purpose.

States that have legalized cannabis drug use for recreational purposes or to possess it in the public have created a myriad of conflicts between the states and the federal government. It also increased the tension between the states and federal rights to create their own laws and authorities.

In 2009, the Obama administration ordered prosecutors to not prosecute victims of marijuana distribution in accordance with the state laws for marijuana.

Gallup polls found that the Democrats support legalization; the Republicans were also found voting in favor of legalization in 2019. People under the age of 30 are more inclined towards marijuana legalization, as 81% of them responded to it. People between 50-64 years of age supported Marijuana legalization with 62% positively responding to the legalization of the cannabis plant for recreational use, the poll revealed

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