Nearly 190 million Americans now live in states where some level of marijuana is legal.
Following this year’s historic election for cannabis, 59.3 percent of the United States population now lives in a state where marijuana has been legalized to some degree, Marijuana Business Daily reports.
In total, medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and Washington D.C. after four states – Florida, Arkansas, Montana and North Dakota — approved medicinal cannabis measures earlier this month.
With voters in California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine passing adult use measures, 63 million Americans (one in five) now live in states where adults are legally allowed to use marijuana recreationally. A total of eight states and Washington D.C. have legalized adult use marijuana. With the significant win in California, recreational marijuana is now legal throughout the entire U.S. West Coast.
“Some might say this represents ‘only’ twenty percent of the population, but as recently as 2011, the total was zero percent,” reads a recent report from the Mises Institute. “Moreover, if this block of states with legal marijuana were a country of its own, it would be the 23rd largest country on earth — larger than Spain, Canada, Italy, South Korea, and many others.”
Industry researchers have estimated the legal market for marijuana will grow by $7 billion to $8 billion with the expansion of legalization. ArcView Market Research and New Frontier project the legal marijuana market to build to $21.8 billion by 2020.
With 16 additional states previously adopting limited access marijuana product laws, there are now only six states in which absolutely no form of marijuana is legal.
The swift expansion of legalization parallels with a dramatic shift in social attitudes regarding cannabis. Polls show that 60 percent of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, up from 31 percent in 2000, with a majority indicating that enforcing prohibition isn’t worth the cost. The support for the legalization of marijuana has shown to transcend political party lines. Although Democrats have traditionally been the party to more strongly favor legalization, the three states that passed medical marijuana all voted for the Republican presidential candidate.
“The support around the industry is growing,” Adam Bierman, CEO of marijuana investment firm MedMen, told NPR. “Accounting firms, legal firms. All the different professional services that because of the position we were in a year ago, two years ago, three years ago, with the stigma around the industry, those people wouldn’t work for us [like they will now].”
Federally, cannabis remains categorized as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. With the election win of Republican candidate Donald Trump, industry officials are wary about the legalization tides that lay ahead for marijuana. President-elect Trump has said he supports medical marijuana, but his thoughts on recreational legalization have shifted several times in the past and today remain unclear.
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