This Map Shows Where You Can Buy Legal Weed Now in the United States
Last night, five states approved legal weed, in a win for pot-smoking parents. But is it good for their kids?
While Americans may not yet know the full results of the 2020 election of Trump versus Biden, either in Senate races or in terms of the presidential race, there is one thing that has become abundantly clear about American politics. Across all political aisles, across red and blue states, and across the entire country, most Americans really just want that green sticky-icky marijuana to be legalized.
And last night, by direct referendum, five states across the country voted overwhelmingly to legalize marijuana in their states. Those five states joined a handful of other states across the country that have already legalized and decriminalized the drug for recreational and medical use, suggesting that voters have changed their minds about whether or not marijuana is a gateway drug, or whether or not people should go to jail for using and/or selling it.
Let’s call it like it is: the states that legalized weed for recreational use — Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota — and for medical — Mississippi — have made an enormously good choice for their economy. After Colorado legalized weed, they put tax dollars in from weed sales right back into their public schools to the tune of $160 million in the first five years. Those states should expect to see a similar economic boom from the legalized, taxed, and regulated sale of the drug.
For parents of color and parents of older teenagers, legalization for people over 21 comes as a positive good in a time where young adults can have their entire careers, lives, and educational futures derailed if they’re caught with a gram of weed on them.
As for whether or not it’s great for teenagers as a public health measure — the data is deeply limited, and because marijuana has been minimally studied, the health and safety ramifications of legalization are not fully known.
But for the most part, prohibition tends to be an inadequate public health response to drug use, and legalization and decriminalization can help both remove the taboo of a drug, increase the amount of research put into the safety of that drug, and help people access that drug as safely as possible, as they’re honestly going to buy it no matter how legal or illegal it is. Research has shown time and time again that increasing safe access to potentially harmful substances, rather than restricting access and imprisoning those struggling with substance abuse issues, can help reduce the risk or death, sickness, and addiction around those substances.
Still, like any substance, it’s important that if you live in a state that has now or recently legalized marijuana, it’s important to keep anything safely locked, stored, and out of sight and reach of your children. It’s also important to, just like alcohol, not partake in the drugs around your children, because of the mental, emotional, and social effects, but the unknown physical health effects, as well.
Here Are All The States That Have Fully Legalized Marijuana
- South Dakota
- New Jersey
- South Dakota
Here Are All The States That Have Only Medical or Decriminalized Marijuana
Keep in mind that all of the states above have decriminalized marijuana, and have medical marijuana, as well.
Five more states voted to legalize marijuana on Election Day. Here are all of the places you can buy legal recreational weed — and medical as well.
All the states where marijuana is legal — and 5 more that just voted to legalize it
Marijuana legalization is spreading around the US.
Since 2012, 15 states and Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana for adults over the age of 21. And 36 states have legalized medical marijuana — meaning that a majority of Americans now have some form of access to marijuana, whether medically or recreationally.
Four more states — New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota — just voted to legalize recreational cannabis, though it won’t become legal immediately. On top of that, voters in Mississippi backed the creation of a medical cannabis program.
Though Canada legalized marijuana federally in 2018, the US has not followed suit, forcing states to chart their own courses. As it stands, marijuana is still considered an illegal Schedule I drug by the US federal government. The House in September was set to vote on a bill to legalize marijuana and expunge the records of those convicted under previous laws, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, though the vote was punted to after the election.
Joe Biden’s projected victory in the presidential election could give marijuana a bigger boost in the US.
Biden has said he would support federal decriminalization of the drug. Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris sponsored a previous version of the MORE Act in the Senate. A Democratic administration would sign that — or a similar legalization bill — into law if passed in the House and Senate.
Control of the Senate remains unclear. If Republicans maintain control, federal legalization is unlikely, because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is vocally opposed.
House Democrats included a provision in the recent stimulus bill, the SAFE Banking Act, that allows cannabis companies to access banking and financial services much like any other company so they don’t have to rely on cash transactions. It remains to be seen whether it will be included in the final legislation.
Despite the political back-and-forth, most Americans want legal marijuana, according to recent polls. Sixty-seven percent of Americans polled by Pew Research said marijuana should be legal, with only 32% in opposition.
All the states where marijuana is legal:
This article was first published in January 2018 and has been updated with new information about where cannabis is legal. Melia Russell contributed to an earlier version of this report.
Marijuana is legal for all adults in 11 states, and for medical purposes in 34. Five more states just voted to legalize it.