The History of Marijuana Legalization in the United States

Marijuana, weed, herb, pot, grass, bud, ganja, Mary Jane comes from the cannabis or hemp family. Marijuana is a flexible drug that is available in various styles; it can be smoked in hand rolled cigarettes called joints, through pipes or water pipes called bongs, or by slicing open cigarettes / cigarellos and replacing the tobacco with cannabis which is called a blunt. On top of that, you can also get marijuana tea, brownies, cookies, and candy. Marijuana is considered a highly beneficial pain reliever for medicinal purposes. It has also been tested to be a treatment for America's opioid addiction

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Before we get into how weed was legalized in the United States, lets first explore how it was illegalized – that’s right, weed was always legal until government regulations decided it wasn’t suitable for society. Let’s head back to the times of colonists settling in the United States. The English king, James I, ordered each colonist to ship back cannabis plants to England. In fact, our proud founding fathers, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson also grew hemp. A combination of various factors in the 1900s led to marijuana being declared a restricted substance, even though its medicinal use in some states remained legal. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 is widely considered the first national law designed to regulate the use of marijuana.


Efforts to legalize weed in the United States have been underway since the 1970s; with advocates strongly emphasizing the medicinal benefits of the drug. However, the journey was long and faced stiff opposition, and it wasn’t until after 2010 that the penalties for the use of marijuana were reduced in several states. This eventually set the wheels in motion for Colorado and Washington to legalize the sale and possession of marijuana for recreational purposes in 2012. This landmark ruling in the favor of cannabis was hailed across the nation, with hundreds of thousands heading to Colorado and Washington for getaways and weekends. This landmark move was followed by cities and states, including Portland, Maine, Jackson, Lansing, and Michigan passing their own statutes legalizing the possession of certain amounts of marijuana.


2014 was a particularly good area for marijuana legalization; with 28 states enacting medical marijuana laws allowing the use of weed for pain relief, combating depression, and pain management. These states also revoked jail sentencing for possession of small amounts of marijuana, determined to be sufficient for individual use, and first time offenses. During this year, Alaska and Oregon followed suit of Colorado and Washington in legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.

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Last year, many states including California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts legalized the use of recreational weed. Three more states – Florida, North Dakota, and Arkansas – legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes and Montana started a review of its medical marijuana laws. Thus, the United States is on a great path to succeed in complete marijuana legalization.


Marijuana consumption has been linked with several health benefits, such as boosting metabolism, lowering cholesterol, and helping reduce the risk of diabetes. Beyond that the obvious benefits of pain management and combating depression make marijuana a strong candidate for legalization in the rest of the United States as well.