Marijuana, also known as Cannabis, is a psychoactive substance that is made using the Cannabis plant. It has been used by individuals for recreational as well as medical purposes. This substance has not always been legal to use in the United States, although things are changing rapidly moving into the future. In the beginning, legalizing marijuana was for medical purposes, and not on the focus of recreational use. However, the argument has been made in favor of legalizing marijuana recreationally throughout the United States, as well. This is for a variety of reasons, but some of the main points of this argument include how legal recreational use would contribute to revenue for the country through taxes. This is a heated debate, however, as opponents in this argument say that legalizing marijuana would make access to what they feel is a gateway drug more harmful than good. Despite this debate, in November 2018, ten states as well as the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., voted in favor of legalizing cannabis for the purpose of recreational use.

Medical Use of Cannabis

First, we will discuss the use of marijuana for medical reasons. As of March 2019, cannabis use for medical purposes has been approved by 33 states and the nation’s capital, making it legal and decriminalizing its use for this reason. In addition to this, CBD (cannabidiol) was legalized in 13 states. CBD is a chemical compound found in the marijuana plant that has been shown to aid users in a variety of ways medicinally, but it does not have a psychoactive effect when used. Some states, such as Texas, Tennessee, and North Carolina are in favor of using CBD for medicinal reason only. At this time, there are four states that are not in favor of using medical marijuana or CBD.

Recreational Use of Cannabis

In 2012, Colorado and Washington opted for the recreational use of cannabis. In Colorado, this made way for a tax system that has since brought in significant revenue for the state. At this time, it is legal for residents of Colorado to use a valid form of identification to purchase one ounce of marijuana at a time. If the individual does not have a valid form of ID, they are only permitted to take home one quarter. While in the past there was a distinction between how much a resident of the state and a visitor could purchase at one time, at this time non-residents may purchase the same amount as a resident of the state of Colorado.
In November of 2016, voters in California, Maine, Nevada, and Massachusetts decided in favor of being able to use marijuana recreationally. California will only allow individuals over the age of 21 to purchase cannabis for a personal reason. They are also able to grow cannabis up to state limits. Any resident that meets the age criteria may own up to one ounce of marijuana (which is 28.5 grams) and up to 8 grams of concentrated marijuana. Maine allows those who are over the age of 21 to possess up to 2.5 ounces at a time for recreational use, and Nevada has stated that it is legal for those over 21 to only be able to purchase one ounce at a time. However, it is not legal to use more than 2.5 ounces of cannabis for Nevada residents within a period of two weeks. Massachusetts allows its residents to use (at home) up to 10 ounces. However, retailers are only permitted to sell up to one ounce at a time, or if the cannabis is concentrated, 5 grams.
In November 2018, as mentioned previously, there were a few states that voted in favor of recreational marijuana use. However, there were some states that during the same time period voted and decided against the legalization of recreational cannabis. For example, while the initiative in Michigan was approved the one in North Dakota was not. Michigan retailers are not expected to begin selling marijuana until some time in 2020, but the law that was passed states that those 21 and over may purchase and use the substance. In addition to this, residents of the state may have up to 12 plants inside of their private residence.
As of November 2018, there are 33 states that allow the use of medical marijuana. However, only 17 states achieved legalization through a ballot measure that was statewide. 15 states passed laws within their state legislatures.
In conclusion, the argument for whether or not cannabis should be legal for medical and recreational purposes is quite a heated one. Not everyone in the United States agrees on the topic, but one thing is for certain – as time goes on, legalization of marijuana, especially in regards to personal use, is becoming more widespread throughout the entire country.