Ever since the legalization of marijuana in some states in the USA, it has created a thriving industry that has a turnover that, according to the markets insider, is in the billions of dollars and responsible for millions of jobs.
The legalized use of marijuana either for recreational or medicinal purposes has been widely accepted and well received by diverse populations, albeit with some criticism. The mixed reception notwithstanding, strict regulations have been put in place to ensure the newly found freedoms are not abused.
The History of Cannabis Laws in the USA
The growth and use of cannabis weren’t always vilified and shunned today in most parts of the world. For the time leading up to the late 1880s, the growth of cannabis was regarded among one of the world’s leading agricultural practices.
Before it was all doom and gloom when it came to talking about being caught in cannabis possession, the US government encouraged farmers to grow the plant. According to an article by the History Channel, in 1619, the state of Virginia passed a law requiring farmers to grow cannabis.
Now before you start thinking that the Virginia lawmakers back in the day were in it just for a good high, let’s take a step back.
Marijuana, which cannabis is mostly associated with these days, is the cannabis plant’s product. Also, a product of the cannabis plant is hemp. Now, what distinguishes these two forms of the cannabis plant from one another is their levels of THC(Tetrahydrocannabinol).
THC is the chemical compound naturally present in the cannabis plant, in large quantities in the marijuana form of cannabis and not so much in the hemp manifestation of cannabis. With this being said, you can now revise your earlier assumption about the Virginian lawmakers urge to get high and say that they wanted the cannabis for the hemp.
Up until the introduction of cotton as an alternative for fabric production, cannabis-derived hemp was the go-to substance for meeting fabric production needs. Hemp was used as the primary raw material in several industries with productions like; fabrics, paper, fiber, and lighting oils.
The making of laws that made associations with cannabis and the illegal venture was inspired by its more THC potent form, marijuana. American lawmakers’ rather drastic change in heart regarding the ‘sanctity’ of cannabis use was somewhat politically and racially motivated.
In the early 1900s, refugees from Mexico fleeing violence back home would use marijuana as a recreational drug. Marijuana also became popular among the majority of the black population of the time, who used its recreational features to find an escape from their dismal living conditions. With the racial driven nature of politics during the 1900s, legislators had no difficult task setting up laws to criminalize marijuana.
States in the USA Where the Use of Cannabis is Legalized
With more medicinal uses of marijuana being discovered, it forms a basis for the population’s pro-legalization members to keep pushing their legislators to act accordingly. Different states in the US employ different mechanisms in deciding their laws regarding marijuana and subsequently come up with laws that best suit their needs.
Some of the considerations for legalization of marijuana that states may factor include:
- The level of health harm that marijuana may cause to its residents
- The levels of stability legalization would bring since the illegal dealing in marijuana is a booming criminal enterprise.
- The level of relief it would create in the criminal justice system; this puts into consideration the backlog caused due to marijuana-related arrests and convictions.
- The economic benefits that the legalization of marijuana would bring to the state; this can be achieved through taxation and issuing tariffs on imports and exports.
- Still, on economic benefits, the amount of money legalization of marijuana would save the state in terms of the funds used in the war against drugs.
- The health implications that would come up due to the excessive or long-term use of marijuana
- The discomfort or harm that would be caused to other people due to passive smoking of marijuana
- The risk of state residents being prone to using harder drugs in the future; this is a risk that may arise due to the regular use of marijuana.
- The state and its operatives appearing as though they support drug use
- The link between drug use and crime and violence
While some states have fully legalized the use of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes, some are going the more reserved route and legalizing only medicinal use for a start.
As of October of 2020, the USA was made up of a blend of states that had either: fully legalized(allowed for both medical and recreational use) and decriminalized, partially legalized(allowed only for medical use) but not decriminalized, and maintained an entirely illegal set of laws against the use of marijuana. If you are interested in CBD specific laws, visit this page.
States that have fully legalized and decriminalized the use of marijuana are:
- District of Columbia
States that have allowed marijuana solely for medicinal use and decriminalized it is:
- North Dakota
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- New Hampshire
States that have allowed the use of marijuana for medicinal use but not decriminalized it are:
- West Virginia
- North Carolina
- New Jersey
The states in which no form of legalization exist for marijuana are:
- South Dakota
Whether legalized or not, cannabis has been among us as a plant and will keep being around. With its ancient uses such as paper production, to the new medicinal uses that keep being discovered, cannabis has proven its spot among the plants requiring us to coexist.
The laws we make for ourselves will keep changing depending on our needs, but we need not dictate what is given to us freely by nature.
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