Let's first differentiate two actions states have taken with respect to marijuana. Decriminalization refers to the relaxation of criminal penalties associated with personal marijuana use. Oregon was the first state to decriminalize marijuana in 1973. The state imposed just a $100 fine for possession of up to an ounce.
Over the next 15 years following Oregon's legal change, at least a dozen other states decriminalized marijuana. But decriminalization merely lowered or removed the sting from anti-marijuana laws. Manufacturing and selling marijuana remained illegal.
With a governor's signature on Friday, the latest place to legalize marijuana in the U.S. isn't a state. It's the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)—a tiny Pacific territory with a population of just over 50,000.
A majority of physicians are in favor of legalizing marijuana nationwide, according to a newly published survey, and an even bigger supermajority back allowing medical cannabis.
The results of the poll, which was conducted by Medscape Medical News, also show strong support for marijuana reforms from other medical professionals like nurses, pharmacists and psychologists, as well as those working in health business and administration.
BuzzFeed's Dominic Holden reports, the ONDCP has asked agencies across the executive branch to share any information that reflects badly on marijuana legalization, including "data demonstrating the most significant negative trends." According to internal memos that Holden obtained, the material will be distilled by something called the Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee, which seems intent on getting Donald Trump to reconsider his support for letting states go their own way in this area.
As the date of the New York Democratic primary election draws near, Gov. Andrew Cuomo traded barbs with challenger and former Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon in a gubernatorial debate that touched on issues of corruption, experience, and legal cannabis. During his previous two terms as governor, Cuomo has opposed any attempts to legalize pot in the Empire State, but ever since Nixon announced that pot legalization was a major part of her political platform, the incumbent began changing his tune on marijuana.
While New Jersey lurches toward legalizing recreational marijuana, one Newark lawmaker is leading the conversation against it.
State Sen. Ron Rice (D-Essex), who on Monday hosted a town hall in Hillside, believes the current legalization bill would lead to more foreclosures in Newark, drive up health care costs and do little to address the racial disparities in the criminal justice system for past - and future - marijuana convictions.
New York State Senator Diane Savino says she knows the moment Governor Andrew Cuomo changed his mind on legal weed.
Cuomo was famously so anti-marijuana that as recently as February 2017 he was still pushing the “gateway drug” line. However, at the beginning of August he announced a 20-person working group that will look into the practicalities of legalizing the drug for recreational adult use in the state, a decision that followed a recommendation from a commission that recreational marijuana be legalized.
But there's a small, growing movement among cities in legal marijuana states to either reduce sentences or expunge marijuana-related charges from before the laws changed.
“We’ve shifted public opinion so broadly on marijuana ... but we’ve got to also do something about those who have been arrested, incarcerated or otherwise penalized for possession, or use or sale,” says Chris Alexander, the New York policy coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance.
Wall Street Investment bank RBC Capital Markets has estimated that a legal cannabis market in the entire U.S. could generate $47 billion annually within the next ten years, according to a Business Insider report. The same analyst claimed that current combined legal and illegal sales top $50 billion.
“We believe further US decriminalization of cannabis including for recreational use is very likely over time. It ultimately starts with US voters who across demographics are supportive of cannabis legalization.” — RBC Capital Markets, in a letter to clients
Should Pennsylvania fully legalize marijuana? A state lawmaker launched an online petition Tuesday asking his colleagues to do just that.
In an effort to drum up public support for a legalization bill he plans to introduce, Pennsylvania Rep. Jake Wheatley (D) called on residents to co-sign his petition in support of cannabis reform in the Keystone State.