Since we have reached the calm after the fuck storm that was COVID, this article is to give us all an update on what's what with cannabis legalization.
Although COVID had many negative effects on society, mental health, and employment, it surprisingly had some positive benefits for cannabis legislation. During COVID, many states were given approval for the delivery of medical marijuana and even declared marijuana businesses "essential businesses," allowing them to stay open during the pandemic. New York also approved delivery for medical and recreational use during the pandemic as the marijuana industry was deemed a "medical provider" (3). Although New York is a fully legalized state, it just goes to show the stark contrast between state officials who support marijuana usage versus those who do not. Some states argue it is an "essential business" providing medicine, and other states still hold onto these bold claims that marijuana is a dangerous drug. Kind of silly, don't you think?
Talking to you, South Carolina:
If all states are treating cannabis differently, then we really should be creating federal laws that are consistent across all states.
The Nitty Gritty
Since our last update in 2021, a lot has changed. Check out last year's update by clicking here and compare the numbers.
- 19 states and the District of Columbia have fully legalized marijuana.
- 6 states consider marijuana fully ILLEGAL.
- 8 states that are not fully legal have decriminalized some offenses + the 19 fully legal states = 27 states total with decriminalization laws varying vastly from one another.
- 38 states total have legalized medicinal marijuana
- 7 states only allow CBD oil rather than marijuana to be sold medicinally; all of these states have not decriminalized marijuana.
- 2 states have decriminalized marijuana but do not allow for medicinal marijuana to be sold.
Isn't that great? We went from 11 states fully legalizing marijuana in 2021 to 19 states fully legalizing marijuana in 2022. In addition, 27 states have decriminalized weed, and only 6 states still have cannabis as entirely illegal. I would say that is a win for us blazers, but we can do better.
We want federal legalization, and we are still struggling to nail down fair and just laws around the aftermath of passing these laws, such as laws around job drug testing, driving, and even playing professional sports. Luckily, The Green Blazer resides in Nevada, "the first state to make it illegal for employers to turn down job applicants for testing positive for cannabis in pre-employment drug screening" (5). But it will likely be years before other states follow us Nevadans to the light.
So let's start with our federal legislation:
Federal Legislation Held by the Puppeteers
The Marijuana Opportunity and Reinvestment Expungement Act (MORE), which passed the House in April, would get rid of penalties for those growing, possessing, or distributing cannabis and remove nonviolent cannabis convictions. Sounds great right?
Well blazers, it is. This act does include a tax on cannabis, but good news is that these funds would be used to help communities that have been affected by policing nonviolent crimes where cannabis was involved. This would be a major improvement for our country, but us cannabis lovers know how this story goes. This might not pass, as all Democrats and 10 Republicans would need to support it in the Senate (2). Another example of our democracy where money grubbing politicians seem to vilify a drug that is legal in some states…
A senate bill has also been filed to federally decriminalize weed by removing it from the scheduled list of controlled substances. Senators Schumer, Wyden, and Booker, on July 21, 2022, introduced the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) to the Senate. This includes the decriminalization of weed as well as federally mandated impaired-driving standard, cannabis workers' rights, and penalties for possessing or distributing large amounts of cannabis without a permit. It also allows people to receive financial assistance for marijuana businesses (6). As usual, on July 26, 2022, no action was taken on the bill. Critics of the bill labeled the CAOA as the "Marijuana Reparations Act" and said legalizing cannabis would be "an enormous gift to the cartels and gangs”(8).
Okay. Hold on…🤔
What! First of all, if the cartels and gangs were nonviolent weed sellers, then they would only be guilty of running a business without a license (that didn’t exist at the time). And if the cartels and gangs were selling illegal drugs or were violent, they still would be persecuted for those crimes just not for cannabis. What kind of ass backward comment is that!?
Why Haters are Missing the Money.
According to MJBiz, legal recreational and medical cannabis sales in the U.S. are expected to reach $33 billion this year (7). That is a significant amount of tax revenue that the state can use to better the community. Not only that, but 2021 was the fifth consecutive year that the cannabis industry showed an annual job growth rate of 27% or higher (4). It is impressive that cannabis has created so many jobs.
California comes in first with a whopping 430.2 million in sales, followed by Michigan with 121.2 million. Arizona has the highest medical marijuana sales totaling 47 million.
The Green Blazer is lucky to be located in Las Vegas, Nevada, where marijuana is legalized, and Nevada's economy has improved significantly since legalizing marijuana. This includes increasing tax revenue by 120 million dollars for our school systems and diversifying the Las Vegas economy.
Also, decriminalization and legalization can have some significant benefits for people of color. 40 percent of drug arrests in 2018 were for marijuana possession. That is crazy! In 2018 a black person was over 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person (1).
So what does this all mean?
We are clearly moving the needle towards fully legalizing cannabis, but we are not there yet. It is known at this point that cannabis drums in a lot of state revenue, and there are many benefits for the states to legalize. With our current government system, you would hope these politicians would decide to follow the money, but we will see if they are intelligent or not. Only time will tell…
- American Civil Liberties Union. (2013, June 14). The War on Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted. https://tinyurl.com/mumeahpj
- Avery, D. (2022, July 21). Marijuana Laws by State 2022: Is Cannabis Legal Where You Live? CNET. https://tinyurl.com/3wbzmydh
- Brownstein. (2020, March 18). Is Cannabis an Essential Business During Coronavirus Closures? Brownstein. https://tinyurl.com/sbjw52vt
- Herrington, A. J. (2022, February 25). New Cannabis Jobs Report Reveals Marijuana Industry’s Explosive Employment Growth. Forbes. https://tinyurl.com/55cd4s2x
- Insurance, H. (2022, April 12). 4 Things You Should Know about Nevada’s New Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing Laws. Harris Insurance. https://tinyurl.com/5n7smr4z
- Jaeger, K. (2022, July 21). Senate Bill To Federally Legalize Marijuana And Promote Social Equity Finally Filed By Schumer, Booker And Wyden. Marijuana Moment. https://tinyurl.com/4pa4athb
- U.S. cannabis sales by state. (2022, July 15). MJbiz. https://mjbizdaily.com/us-cannabis-sales-by-state/
- Schroyer, J. (2022, July 26). US Senate holds historic first hearing on marijuana legalization bill. MJbiz. https://tinyurl.com/36xk5xui