When Colorado passed Amendment 64 to its state constitution, Colorado began the trend of legalized recreational cannabis across the nation. Since then, Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington have legalized it recreationally. Many other states allow it medicinally. Illinois has recently passed legislation allow it and sales will begin in 2020 as well as Vermont and Michigan. These states have all passed legislation to allow recreational marijuana. The revenues from cannabis number in the hundreds of millions and for Colorado has peaked over $1 billion.

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The Pathway to Legalization

Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island look like the next states where recreational marijuana legislation may be landing next. It is anticipated by cannabis investors that by 2024 these states will be added to the list of totally legal states.

How does marijuana get legalized? There are usually two pathways: direct vote (adding it to the state constitution) or by a vote of the legislature. Which path legalization takes depends on the state. For example, Colorado passed Amendment 64 which required signatures to get the measure on the ballot and a public vote in 2012. Illinois passed it through the state legislature and the cash strapped state is looking forward to using the revenue to balance the perilous state budget. No matter how a state chooses to do it, anyone can help out with advocacy for legalization in their state and there is good reason to besides the tax dollars.

Be It Resolved: Why Legalize?

The arguments for legalization and the years of test cases show that society does not crumble when tested, safe, and regulated cannabis is available. Crime usually decreases, less money is spent on drug war enforcement, and overcrowded jails are cleared. There’s no increase in traffic deaths in legalized states, although, reports do state that there is an increase in people driving while high. The police are working on tests to better enforce DUI driving laws. Youth consumption often decreases in states where cannabis is legal and incidents of people going to the hospital due to a cannabis-related accident are no higher than alcohol. One of the arguments against legalization is that people would do dangerous things and yet alcohol is one of the most dangerous intoxicants and no one is arguing for a return of prohibition. It’s important to get and stay educated on the latest news in cannabis legalization, especially if you’re working to get it legal in your state. There are decades of misconceptions and propaganda to over come.

How Can You Help?

Most likely, your state already has a group that is pushing for legalization. Most states have medical marijuana already in place. Recreation is always the next step. One of the best you can help is volunteer to help local groups work with state legislators to pass recreational marijuana or pass the law through a direct vote of the people. Cannabis legislation has been a grass roots effort. The best way you can help create change in your state is to get involved and help any groups pushing for legalization.