Each year, more than 36 million Americans consume cannabis, and — even though it’s legal in some form in 46 states and the District of Columbia — the vast majority of individuals get their cannabis through the illegal market.
That’s clearly not the end state of proper cannabis legalization. Rather, effective legalization transitions consumption from the illegal market to a safe, responsible and well-regulated industry. In the legal market, cannabis products are tested, taxed and monitored, and sale to minors is prevented.
The benefits of cannabis legalization are manifold — from economic development to job creation; and from tax revenue to reduced arrests and incarcerations that disproportionately impact minorities and unnecessarily clog local law enforcement and court systems. And every day, new research connects cannabis with reductions in opioid use and related deaths, as well as in youth usage rates in jurisdictions which legalize it.
Recognizing these benefits, several states — from California to Massachusetts — have recently adopted comprehensive adult-use cannabis laws, and many others — including Vermont, Michigan and New Jersey — are moving along with similar efforts.