When CNN Money asks the question, people really pay attention:
Will recreational marijuana soon be legal nationwide?
They posed this question because the pace of marijuana legalization has become a slippery slope; just five years ago recreational pot usage wasn’t legal anywhere in the United States. Today, eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana use for any reason – from medical to recreational. Nationwide, the sales of legal marijuana in any form have increased to a $6.6 billion industry.
But the industry itself and the laws that govern it are rapidly changing. Let’s look at the state of pot in the U.S. as of July 2017. Here are eight things you need to know.
Eight Marijuana Facts
- Federal law still outlaws cannabis; it is illegal to possess for medicinal and recreational use. Pot is still classified the same as heroin, and there are thousands of people still serving time in federal penitentiaries for possessing week.
- Despite being legal for medicinal or recreational use, you cannot smoke weed legally in public.
- You cannot drive and be under the influence of marijuana. Driving stoned is just as dangerous as driving drunk.
- You cannot cross state lines or travel by airplane with marijuana. If you fly with pot, you run the risk of being arrested under the federal law, which could put you in prison.
- You can legally be fired for being stoned at work, even if marijuana is legal in your state. It would be the same as if you showed up with alcohol on your breath – it is generally not a good idea.
- Medical marijuana is currently legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia.
- You must be 21 years of age to legally buy recreational pot.
- There are hefty taxes on pot sales: 28% in Colorado, 37% in Washington – and states are reaping the benefit of the extra income.
What’s in Store for Legal Marijuana
High Times, while not necessarily as reputable a source as CNN, suggests that marijuana will be legal nationwide for either medicinal or possibly even recreational use by 2021. In their interview with a New York financial analyst, they published the following predictions for the future of legal marijuana over the next few years:
- By 2018, 12 more states will legalize medical marijuana.
- Another 17 will fully legalize the plant.
- The American public will continue to support full legalization of cannabis.
- Thousands of jobs and tens of thousands of tax dollars will continue to be a boon for states struggling to make ends meet.
- Canada is expected to fully legalize and regulate the sale and consumption of marijuana in the next year, with new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appearing supportive of the Cannabis Act, which is currently being debated in Parliament.
As more research continues to extoll the health benefits of cannabis, Americans are expected to continue to support full legalization of this plant. While U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has voiced his opposition to the legalization of pot, it appears his attitude is in the minority.