Driscoll Green: Cannabis in the 50 states – DU Clarion

The University of Denver has a wide range of students from a variety of states across the country. These individual states have different traditions, climates and, most importantly—laws. One law that is staggeringly variable across the country is the legalization of marijuana. 

The decriminalization of marijuana started in 1973, but even today marijuana is still fully illegal in 11 different states across the United States. This means that the drug cannot be used even for medicinal purposes. These states include: Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming. 

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana in the US. This action set off a chain reaction and over the next 24 years, 33 more states legalized medical marijuana. With more research showing the benefits of marijuana, one can only assume this number will grow in the following years. In 2012, both Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana. This means residents of these states over 21 could legally purchase marijuana without a medical card. Currently in 2020, 11 states have legalized marijuana. These states include: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Alaska, Illinois, Michigan, Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine.

(Below is a map showing which states in the US have legalized Marijuana for recreational purposes. Created with mapchart.net)

This shift towards the legalization of marijuana has kickstarted the cannabis industry as we see it today. With an abundance of dispensaries and glass shops, Colorado is undoubtedly capitalizing on this growing market. According to CNBC, Colorado generates approximately $24 million in total state revenue from cannabis each month. 

While DU students may come from states with different views on marijuana, we all now have one thing in common—we live in a state where marijuana is commonly enjoyed

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