The state of California made headlines in 1996 when it became the first state to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana. Later on, several states followed suit.
Things changed in November 2012 when Washington and Colorado approved and legalized recreational marijuana use. Since then, Alaska, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Vermont have approved state measures to legalize marijuana.
In 2020, Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota followed in the steps of the pioneering states.
Changes in marijuana state laws have given Americans and the population in general access to cannabis dispensaries for legal products. Although state legalization remains a divided topic, more and more states propose legislation to decriminalize marijuana use due to its many benefits.
Positive Effects of Decriminalizing Marijuana
Marijuana legalization helps states by offering job opportunities for their citizens as well as tax revenue from cannabis businesses. Tax growth and increased job and investment opportunities can help the nation’s economy.
The remaining states can turn to cannabis to help ailing economies impacted by the COVID19 pandemic. Currently, the cannabis industry has a quarter of a million full-time employees, which is four times more than the coal workers in America. Today, with 36 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits, the cannabis industry could be the key to economic recovery.
Marijuana sales boosted tax revenue. Washington collected $559.5 million of marijuana revenue while Colorado collected $423 million in 2021. Overall, all states reached $3.7 billion for legal and adult-use cannabis sales.
Cannabis dispensaries and nurseries could also generate thousands of jobs, fostering economic activities in the coming years. Furthermore, this would push other investment and business opportunities for secondary industries related to marijuana. If legalized across the country, investors would be free to list their stocks on U.S stock exchanges, an opportunity for more investors.
Apart from the economic impact, the legalization of marijuana use also helped people deal with chemotherapy-related nausea, multiple sclerosis-related muscle spasms, and those suffering from chronic pain based on a 2017 study that reviewed more than 10,000 scientific abstracts.
In addition, marijuana decriminalization led to lowered crime rates, particularly in the illicit marijuana trade. The availability of dispensaries allows adult and medical users access to a range of cannabis products while adhering to regulations with a more relaxed approach.
Marijuana arrests are said to have decreased overall according to a 2019 study. Before the legal changes, it was thought that more access to cannabis products could worsen the situation. But surprisingly, the cannabis-related arrests have plunged.
Regulated cannabis use can have health benefits because cannabis dispensaries are required to monitor their cannabis products for contaminants.
The fight to legalize marijuana use, particularly recreationally, still has a long way to go. Given that marijuana use is still illegal at the federal level, the fight is far from over as far as cannabis farmers and entrepreneurs are concerned.
But more people have started to notice the benefits of marijuana use, thus, the increasing number of officials supporting the end of marijuana prohibition.