Although marijuana in the U.S. is still prohibited by federal law, several states have legalized the drug for both medical and other legal (recreational) use over the last few years, and this is a trend fast on the rise. With the mid-term elections coming up, many candidates are running on a platform which is explicitly pro-marijuana in a bid to swing the vote in their favor.
Marijuana is a drug which is quickly gaining mainstream support, a move which a mere 20 years ago would have been thought of as unthinkable. Whilst marijuana regulation varies on a state-by-state basis, there are three main stances which the various states take: completely prohibited, legalized for medical use and legalized for both medical and recreational use.
Virtually all states aside from Idaho, South Dakota, Kansas, and Nebraska have marijuana legalized for either recreational or medical use. With this rise in legalization, a number of marijuana dispensaries such as Leafbuyer have been popping up to serve the newfound legal demand.
There are nine states plus D.C. where you can smoke marijuana for recreational use: Alaska, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts. Three of these states—Colorado, Oregon and Washington—are by far the most notable. But, the question still remains, legal for true medical reasons or legal just because? What are we heading toward?
No. 1: Colorado
When it came to legalizing marijuana for recreational use, Colorado was far ahead of the curve. Before its legalization, the drug already had a medical following which had taken root within the state. Today, the state has many legal dispensaries, however each locale within the state has the final say when it comes to whether dispensaries are allowed in it.
Even though Colorado is a pretty modern and progressive state, many of its lawmakers are conservative, and in some areas it is impossible to find a dispensary. So, if you are heading out there, it’s best to do your research before you go.
In Denver, if you’re 21 and over you can find virtually any marijuana-related goods at varying price points. The people who run dispensaries are known as “bud tenders” and are on-hand, just like if you were at a bar and wanted a drink.
One cannot smoke marijuana outside Colorado, and many hotels and guesthouses will not let you take it in your room. For this reason, legal marijuana is mostly found in edible forms.
Much like the situation in Colorado, it is down to the individual counties and towns within the state to decide whether they want to have marijuana dispensaries or not. In Oregon, the counties which are closer to the coast are most progressive and enable marijuana dispensaries to openly sell their goods. However, as you delve deeper into the middle of the state everything becomes more rural and a little conservative.
Although marijuana is technically legal in Oregon, consuming it is quite difficult. It is against the law to both smoke marijuana and consume edibles when you are in public places or on federal land (such as national parks). However, some coastal hotels and guesthouses allow it. It is also illegal to possess more than one ounce when you are in public.
No. 3: Washington State
Prior to the legalization of recreational marijuana, medical marijuana was already available. When voters moved to make recreational marijuana legal, though, things started to get a bit weird. A court had previously ruled medical marijuana dispensaries illegal, so they were a legal grey area. When recreational marijuana was legalized, there was a new regulatory system for recreational use alongside the stricter restrictions associated with medical marijuana… quite the paradox.
In terms of where you can smoke or consume marijuana, you are able to do it in your car, in a park, or in your house so long as you carry less than one ounce, and that includes in the home, too. You also cannot cultivate your own marijuana, either. There’s quite a weird legal situation in the state at present, but dispensaries are starting to pop up and there is likely to be further regulatory change in the future.
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