As 2016 came to a close, the nation was swept with a number of state propositions addressing the legality of marijuana for both recreational and medical uses.
As a student of government and history, this issue had been scratching that part of my brain which asks,
"How is any of this legal?"
Here's the short answer : It's not.
Not federally anyways, and despite four more states passing recreational laws this past November, consumers won't be able to buy marijuana for another year. This is why it's tricky, you might have heard recently that my home state of California just "went green" for recreational uses with Prop 64.
Here's the catch: If you have a valid state ID.
This differs from places like Colorado and Oregon which welcomes the tourists.
The purpose of this research is to present accurate information about the legality of recreational marijuana as we begin 2017.
Here are the states in which marijuana is officially legal (on the state level) for recreational use.
Washington : Legal for those with valid I.D 21 and over. You do not need to be a resident in Washington to buy marijuana. As a visitor, where to smoke can be tricky. In Washington, treat marijuana like alcohol, and keep it out of the public (that includes the smell). Additionally Washington is unique in that home growing is prohibited.
Oregon: Legal for those with valid I.D 21 and over, no need to be a resident here either. Oregon is particularly liberal in that the state allows an individual user to have eight ounces of flower, and 4 plants. Additionally Oregon has become quite famous of the speakeasy type retail shops that double as a hangout for consumption.
California (As of the November Election): A slippery slope. In November of 2016 California voted for the legalization of recreational marijuana. Which is pretty significant when you consider California is the 6th largest economy in the world, ramifications for this could be huge. Here's where it gets tricky, the momentum of marijuana in California was already at an all time high. Although this proposition shouldn't allow the retail of marijuana until January 2018, many of the states existing medical shops and welcoming in prop 64 customers (with valid California ID). If this will help or hurt the push for retail, remains unknown. What is known, is that 64 allows Californians to possess up to an ounce of flower, and eight grams of concentrates.
Nevada (As of the November Election): Adults 21 and over can legally buy up to an ounce of flower and an eight of concentrates. Same laws follow, no use in public. This includes casinos which operate under federal law, so don't try it.
Alaska: Legal under "Ballot Measure 2" passed in 2014, Alaska allows adults 21 and over to purchase up to an ounce of marijuana and six plants. What makes Alaska unique is that in 2015 the state passed a measure that would allow onsite consumption and retail. Meaning Alaska will be the first state to resemble Amsterdam type "coffee shops", later this year. For now, retail shops are well established.
Maine (As of the November Election): Maine breaks new ground as one of the first East Coast states to legalize marijuana. The state now allows adults 21 and over to own 2.5 ounces of marijuana and 12 plants! The new law also legalized marijuana social clubs, although they will not be available until January 2018.
Massachusetts (As of the November Election): Although Massachusetts did vote to legalize, the state remains heavily divided. Although residents and guests over the age of 21 are free to enjoy marijuana in private, the state won't allow for retail until January 2018.
Note: It is illegal to transport marijuana across state lines. It is also illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana.
The recreational use of marijuana is just one of the ways our nation will differ from history in 2017.
If any of the above information is inaccurate: please note so.
What do you think the ramifications of this means?
Will the 6th largest economy in the world thrive under new recreational laws? Or will the system of prematurely turning medical dispensaries into retail markets destroy the progress?
Will new medical breakthroughs be possible? or will privatization destroy the future health benefits of marijuana?
Thoughts? I'd love to hear from you