Feature Image

Is Nationwide Marijuana Legalization 5 Years Away?

In a recent call with reporters, Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer said he believes the shift in public opinion regarding marijuana will soon lead to legalization in all 50 states.

Longtime supporter of marijuana legalization, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), believes cannabis prohibition in the United States is coming to its end. In a call recently with reporters, Blumenauer said that, “marijuana has gone mainstream,” and predicted that public opinion swaying toward acceptance would continue to power a nationwide cannabis reform effort.

“Marijuana legalization is cresting,” said Blumenauer. “This is a pivotal time. The long term is clear. I’ve stated and I strongly believe in five years every state will be able to treat marijuana like it treats alcohol.”

Polls do indicate that support for recreational marijuana legalization among Americans is at an all-time high. Both CBS News and Quinnipiac University recently found that at least 60 percent favor ending prohibition. November’s election saw four new states vote to legalize recreational cannabis, and another four states legalized marijuana for medical purposes. A majority of the U.S. population now lives in a state with some type of access to legal marijuana.

Despite U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions claiming that marijuana use is dangerous, a majority of Americans now consider alcohol and tobacco to both pose bigger health risks than cannabis.

“I don’t think [lawmakers] want to pick a fight to be on the wrong side of the American public,” Blumenauer said.

U.S. Marijuana Laws

Blumenauer is a founding member of a newly formed bipartisan “Cannabis Caucus,” aimed at reforming the nation’s cannabis laws. He and the caucus recently introduced a slew of legislation — the “Path to Marijuana Reform” – that includes a package to tax and regulate marijuana on the federal level.

As for now, marijuana remains illegal federally, and the Trump administration has sent several mixed messages about whether it’ll enforce federal law against states that have legalized marijuana for recreational or medical use.

Blumenauer argues that it’s time for the federal government to update its stance on cannabis, and that doing so would be economically advantageous. The four states with operating recreational markets generate a combined $1.4 billion in tax revenue. Blumenauer’s state of Oregon alone pulled in more than $60 million in 2016. Colorado generated $200 million for the year, and the state of Washington is pulling in nearly $1 million in marijuana taxes every day.

Cannabis market analysts at GreenWave Advisors released a research report last month that also suggests that legalization could soon expand nationwide, with all 50 U.S. states legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational purposes by 2021. Whether or not that will happen partly depends on the Trump administration’s response to the expansion of legalization, although even interference by the federal government would likely not be able to slow the double-digit growth rate of the legal cannabis industry.

“It’s time for Congress to face the facts surrounding marijuana,” Blumenauer said, in a recent press release. “A transition of marijuana policy is inevitable, and already well under way. I’m looking for every opportunity to advance our goals of reform.”

Learn more about the cannabis laws throughout the U.S. on our education page. Keep up with the latest developments in the legal cannabis industry by visiting our news feed.