2014 marked one of the most historically significant years for cannabis legislation since Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The wheels of the legislative process are slowly turning, and laws are starting to reflect the views of the growing majority of marijuana supporters in the United States. This infographic takes a close look at the changing tides of legislation and the rapidly shifting social perceptions of marijuana in 2014.
Yes, last year was a good year for cannabis proponents. Although Federal prohibition on marijuana remains in tact for the foreseeable future, the attacks on medical marijuana growers and providers were officially put to a halt this year. Now, almost half of the country allows some form of medical marijuana and 2 more states (and the District of Colombia) have decided that the use of marijuana should be legal for adults. Cities like Philadelphia, Houston, and Cincinnati are lessening penalties for possession in an effort to quell the harsh and unjust racial disparity in marijuana related arrests.
The 2014 midterm elections went favorably for marijuana proponents. A strong showing of support in Oregon and Alaska changed marijuana laws and DC overwhelmingly passed their initiative to legalize marijuana. Florida voters showed up to polls with 58% supporting the legalization of medical marijuana, but Florida laws say that 60% of the vote is needed to pass constitutional amendments.
Meanwhile, Colorado and Washington underwent their first year of legalization without any major calamities. Money is now filtering into state treasuries and crime rates in Colorado were down at the 6 month mark. Colorado recreational shops opened in January and combined with medical sales, brought in $60 Million in tax revenue by October. Washington recreational sales opened up on July 8 and raked in about $15 million in the first 6 months of the program. While it may take a few years to get the kinks worked out, the sky has yet to fall from the so-called ‘social experiment’ with legalized marijuana.
Beyond tax dollars and new legislation, leading voices in our country are now becoming more friendly with marijuana. From President Obama’s straightforward talk on pot to the grandparents lighting up for the first time, it seems that American society is reconsidering how they think about marijuana. Even the New York Times boldly chimed in with a plea to change our National drug policy.
The future is undeniably bright for cannabis in the United states. One estimate projects that the cannabis industry could reach a whopping 10 Billion dollars by 2018. Money spent on marijuana is now being channeled into schools and research, rather than the pockets of Mexican cartels. As proponents for legalization march onward toward 2016, the next 2 years will set the stage for the future of cannabis in America.