High Hopes: The Tale of Americans Patiently Awaiting Cannabis Legalization

June 29, 2023 12:00 pm ET Estimated Read Time: 4 Minutes
High Hopes: The Tale of Americans Patiently Awaiting Cannabis Legalization

People have had and still have high hopes for cannabis legalization. Recreational cannabis is now legal in 22 states across the nation, with more eyeballing the opportunity. Starting out in 2023, 40 states, plus the District of Columbia, have taken the steps to legalize medicinal cannabis. Some, however, continue to fight cannabis reform.

What drives lawmakers in these states to believe that their residents don’t deserve the same freedoms as Americans across most of the country do? Back in the late ’30s, just after federal marijuana prohibition started, medical researchers told the government they were wrong about cannabis. According to the University of Denver, “In 1944, the New York Academy of Medicine issued an extensively researched report declaring that contrary to earlier research and popular belief, use of marijuana did not induce violence, insanity or sex crimes, or lead to addiction or other drug use.”

The government of the time had a different agenda and didn’t want to hear it, and federal marijuana prohibition continued. In 1972, the Shafer Commission, aka the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, recommended the decriminalization of marijuana. Again, this wasn’t what the federal government wanted to hear. Federal marijuana prohibition continued. Today in 2023, despite our knowledge and overwhelming support for positive cannabis reform on a federal level, our government still clings to a past built on a foundation of mistruth. Still, many Americans have high hopes for cannabis legalization.

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A Few States Eying Positive Cannabis Reform

Cannabis may be legal in many places, but not everyone enjoys this freedom. This needs to change. All of this could come to an end, and an untold amount of time, money, and resources could be diverted into something more pressing if only the federal government would end the heinous practice of federal marijuana prohibition.

Here are some states eyeballing positive cannabis reform:

  • Ohio is looking to legalize recreational cannabis. A poll from September 2022 showed that nearly 60% of Ohio residents favored legalizing recreational cannabis.
  • Hawaii is eyeballing adult-use cannabis legalization. Hawaii was the first state in the nation to legalize medicinal cannabis through the state legislature and could become the first to do so with recreational cannabis.
  • North Carolina, Texas, Delaware, and Kansas are all eyeballing some form of cannabis legalization. If cannabis remains illegal where you live, let local lawmakers know that it’s time for a change. Simply tell them if they don’t support cannabis legalization and positive cannabis reform, you will not support them at the next election.

A Few States Still Stuck in the Past

Here are some of the states that continue to prohibit cannabis within their borders:

  • Tennessee: Cannabis bills like the Free All Cannabis for Tennesseans Act go to lawmakers in TN to die. Possession of any amount of cannabis in the state can result in a year of incarceration, court costs, and fines.
  • South Carolina: Another place where cannabis bills like the SC Compassionate Care Act go to be swept under the rug. Cannabis possession here, like in TN, is a big NO. One ounce of cannabis or more is a felony charge that is punishable by as much as five years of incarceration, or sometimes you can buy your way out of trouble with a fine of $5,000.
  • Texas: Recent state polls showed 83% of Texans support legalizing medical cannabis and 55% support retail cannabis. Still, that doesn’t seem to matter to lawmakers in the state. It looks like the legislature in Hawaii is going to outdo the legislature in Texas. Texans have very limited access to medical cannabis under the state’s Compassionate-Use Program. Basically, they can have hemp.
  • Kansas: Surrounded by states with legal cannabis, Kansas sets traps for out-of-state tags to try and unlawfully bust people for pot. They do this so much that there’s even a name for it. It’s dubbed the “Kansas Two Step” and can be found in several court cases that are current. According to NORML, in Kansas, “Possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of six months imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,000 for a first-time offense.”

High Hopes for Federal Marijuana Prohibition to End

Americans across the country have high hopes for federal marijuana prohibition to come to an end. Recent polls show more Americans smoke cannabis than tobacco. That number will only continue to get higher as time passes. A whopping 68% of America supports cannabis legalization, according to a Gallup poll from 2021. It’s only a matter of time before that support gets translated into policy.

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