If you’ve been glued to the news for the past few months, you know that 2016 was a landmark year for legal recreational weed. If you haven’t been keeping up too closely, we’re pleased to let you know that thanks to voters across the country, eight states plus the District of Columbia now allow fully legalized possession and consumption of marijuana.
While eight out of fifty may not seem like a sweeping victory, don’t forget that the states that did legalize recreational weed pack a big population punch. So much so that in 2017, 21% of US citizens live in a state with legalized marijuana. Let’s go down the list!
Alaska legalized recreational weed in 2015 was the third state to allow legal use and possession of marijuana. However, the state is still facing some issues with demand exceeding supply. As recently as this January, the state’s 11 dispensaries have been struggling to keep products on the shelves. Luckily, Alaska’s law allows individuals over 21 to possess, grow, and gift up to six marijuana plants – as long as three or fewer are flowering at once.
Despite pioneering the legalization of medical marijuana in 1996, California finally legalized recreational weed use only last year. While dispensaries aren’t expected to open until 2018, it’s now legal for Californians to possess, share, and use cannabis as long as it’s out of the public view. Each household, no matter its number of occupants, can grow up to six plants at one time.
This state has been on the list since 2012, making it one of the first to legalize pot. Colorado has been held up as an example of what can go right and wrong with legal weed sales, and states like Oregon adopted a wait-and-see attitude based on whether or not Colorado fell apart after its legalization. We’re pleased to report that this hasn’t been the case, and sales are still going strong.
Maine is a new addition to the list of legal weed states, having passed their legalization bill in December 2016. And they definitely had a difficult time of it, as voters only approved the measure by 3,995 votes! While retail sales are delayed until February 2018, adults over 21 can now carry up to 2.5 ounces of flower – more than double what most states allow.
Residents of this northeastern state have been able to carry and grow weed since December 2016. However, like other states in the fledgling stages of legalization, Massachusetts is now in a strange gray area where recreational weed is legal to have but not legal to sell without a retail license, which doesn’t yet exist. For now, residents will have to be happy with possessing 1 ounce of weed outside their home, and up to 10 ounces in your house. And for the green thumbs, a single person can have six plants for personal use, and households with more than one adult can grow up to 12.
Nevada wins the title of “least prepared” when it comes to legalizing recreational weed. For some unfathomable reason, the state government wildly underestimated the demand for legal weed, leading to almost immediate shortages once retailers opened their doors. In fact, the governor has endorsed a state of emergency in response to lay out emergency measures that will allow more dispensaries to also be licensed distributors. We wish all of our Nevada readers a speedy end to the red tape!
Even though many residents view legal pot as an important facet of “Keeping Portland Weird,” the state’s more conservative voters prevented the use and sale of recreational weed until 2014. Even now, the state allows counties and cities to decide to go “dry” and prevent producers, processors, distributors, and retailers from operating within their jurisdiction. However, in Portland, dispensaries produced $14.9 million in tax revenue for the state in 2016 alone! We hope the trend continues.
Washington was one of the first states to legalize recreational weed when it passed Initiative 502 in 2012. However, the state took the time to set up a robust set of regulations before opening up the recreational marijuana market. As a result, the Seattle area is one of the most popular cannabis scenes in the nation. In fact, it’s become such a pot tourist destination that some intrepid companies are offering cannabis tours!
D.C. hasn’t had a smooth path to recreational weed. In fact, when medical marijuana was approved by voters back in 1998, Congress delayed the program for over a decade. The first medical marijuana sale didn’t happen until 2013, but things have been moving rapidly since then. In 2014, voters approved legalizing the possession, growth, and gifting of recreational marijuana, but no retail system has been put in place.
There’s also the huge concern that over 20% of D.C.’s land is under the jurisdiction of the federal government – and we know how they feel about the legality of weed. This has left residents in an uncomfortable gray area, which will hopefully move toward resolution in the coming months.
The Future of Recreational Weed
As you’ve probably figured out, legal weed is likely to gain even more traction as states continue to legalize marijuana without coming apart at the infrastructural seams. While we can’t be sure of how voters will vote, we can confidently say we hope your state is next!