Published Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, 10:09 am
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As of this writing, 15 states plus Washington, D.C. allow for adults to consume cannabis recreationally — and of those, more than half are on the western side of the Rocky Mountains. The West Coast has adopted more progressive cannabis regulations at a much more rapid rate than other regions of the U.S., causing many to wonder: Why? What is it about the West Coast that has allowed cannabis laws to flourish — or, perhaps a better question, what is it about the East Coast that has been so resistant to cannabis culture?
The West is known for being wild
As Europeans “settled” America’s East Coast, much of the West remained unexplored and unknown for centuries. Colonists and eventually American citizens would hear stories from trappers and trekkers about the relatively untouched lands west of the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River, stories of strange indigenous people and unfamiliar animals. Many Americans — driven by curiosity, opportunity or something else — began moving westward themselves.
Even as the West became more populated by white Americans and Europeans, it maintained its reputation as an untamed space. The wildness of the West tended to attract misfits and iconoclasts who failed to thrive in existing society and who wanted a place to be themselves without existing social pressures or expectations. What’s more, life in the West was much more difficult than life in the East until well into the 20th