Last year, 2017, saw some big leaps forward in the case of marijuana advocates, as eight new states legalized marijuana to some extent. However, that same year also saw some major setbacks on the federal level, as the incumbent Attorney General Jeff Sessions is an ardent opponent of legalized marijuana and has made some moves to destroy the budding marijuana industry in the USA.
However, it seems like the leadership of the country is very much out of touch from the pulse of the nation, as some research has shown that as much as 90% of the population approves of the use of marijuana and marijuana products for medicinal purposes. It’s no wonder, given that the legalization movement has existed for decades, and that over the past decade, they have been seriously engaged in changing policies of individual states since the federal government seemed less than willing to cooperate. Legal marijuana dispensaries now exist all over the USA and they operate under state laws which protect them from prosecution, but the question last year was how long it will last.
What Has Changed Since Last Year
It would seem that the Attorney General was all talk, as no concrete measures have been taken to curb the industry. What’s more, the market has expanded to such extents that it is estimated that it will exceed the value of the illegal pot operations as early as 2020.
Why Do States Legalize Marijuana?
Companies engaged in marijuana production, processing and sales find themselves in a kind of a legal limbo. The state and local laws permit them to grow and distribute marijuana, a substance which is controlled on the federal level and the production and sales of which incur serious penalties according to federal laws. So, what is the catch? Why do the states defy federal laws?
It’s simple, marijuana business is very lucrative and it brings in a lot of money. That means that they can rake in quite a lot of it in taxes. In fact, the monetary incentive might just be the biggest motivator for other states which are still on the edge to decide to opt in, lest they be denied a piece of that cake.
California’s Recreational Use Law
Even though it’s been more than 2 decades since California legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, it was only on the 1st January this year that they made the final step and decriminalized marijuana used for recreational purposes, too late to be the first state to do so. One of the main reasons why people were squeamish about taking that last step was fear of anarchy and overconsumption of the drug.
However, not everything is as clear-cut with the new law in California. First of all, it requires a permit which is notoriously hard to come by and may take months. Second of all, all individual townships and municipalities have the right to veto the law in their territory, meaning that if your town leadership doesn’t want a legal pot dispensary on their territory, you can wave goodbye to legal weed.
New Jersey Might Go Forward with Legalization
The talks in the State of New Jersey have not been easy and have found a lot of opposition, mostly with the Republican politicians in the state. However, it seems that New Jersey might just be the next state which allows any adult resident to purchase legal weed for recreational purposes.
However, even the proponents of weed legalization aren’t exactly sure how or when it is going to happen and they advocate a slower process of implementation, rather than an all-out plunge into the industry. Still, the opportunity to tax the weed market is too good to pass up and there are some estimates that a consensus will be reached as soon as the end of June.
Another interesting consequence of New Jersey’s weed law will be its impact on the neighboring New York. The notorious hardliner against marijuana, Andrew Cuomo is the governor of New York and still promotes the idea that marijuana is a gateway drug, a claim which has long been disputed at best. Chances are that we will start seeing a reverse daily migration from the city of New York and into New Jersey for a bit of legal indulgence.
Marijuana remains a controversial topic for many, but as the research keeps coming in, more and more people are convinced of its medicinal properties, as well as the ability to relax and entertain us with very little harm, certainly less than alcohol or tobacco. It would seem that the states have taken a progressive stance and are willing to push forward even when the federal government is reluctant.