The legalization of cannabis in the United States has certainly come a long way since its introduction in the 1910s. What started out as a controversial war against the supposed dangers of marijuana has transformed into a knowledgeable view of cannabis.

As of November 2018, cannabis is legal in 33 U.S. states for medical use and 10 states for recreational use. This number is only going to grow in the years to come, as more and more states legalize cannabis for either medicinal or recreational purposes. Here, we will take a look at what has happened so far in the process of legalization and what is next for the United States cannabis market!


California was the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana

The first state to legalize cannabis for medicinal use was California in 1996 by California voters. Since then, a total of 33 states have legalized medical marijuana. These states include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, and many more. Medical marijuana, of course, differs from recreational consumption in that it requires a doctor’s recommendation and is meant to treat specific health conditions.

The legalization of recreational cannabis is a slower journey

Recreational cannabis, on the other hand, has been used for non-medicinal purposes, such as by people who want to consume cannabis in whatever form for personal reasons, whether it be anxiety aids or simply for fun . Recreational cannabis has been legalized in a total of 11 states so far. These states are Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan Nevada, Oregon Vermont, and Washington. In these states, adults 21 years and over are able to purchase cannabis products from dispensaries for personal usage.

The first state to legalize recreational cannabis was Colorado, back in 2012. The process began with a vote by the people of Colorado in November of that year. A mere six months later, the first legal recreational cannabis dispensaries opened in the state. Washington followed soon after, with its own legalization legislation coming into effect in 2014. Again, it took quite some time for legislation to pass.

Marijuana legalization in the United States may be influenced by other nations

Another “important” state that has recently legalized recreational cannabis is New York. The legalization of cannabis in New York has been a topic of debate for many years now, but it seems that lawmakers have finally come to an agreement when passing legislation. Once New York has legalized recreational cannabis, it is predicted to be a future major turning point in the United States’ stance on marijuana legalization.

What may be contributing to the United States’ rapidly expanding legalization of both medicinal and recreational cannabis is the spreading trend of cannabis legalization in other countries as well. Canada recently became the second country in the world to legalize recreational cannabis, and many more countries are expected to follow suit in the next few years. With so much momentum behind marijuana legalization, it seems inevitable that the United States will eventually join the ranks of countries with legal cannabis.

Cannabis legalization still has a long way to go in America

However, marijuana legalization is still a controversial topic in the United States, and it will likely be some years before the federal government fully legalizes cannabis. In the meantime, individual states are taking matters into their own hands and passing their own laws regarding cannabis legalization.

As of 2018, nine states plus Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana, and more are following in their steps. Unfortunately, the process of new legislation coming into effect is not an overnight journey. It takes time and, more often than not, a lot of back and forth between opposing parties.

The good news? The United States is on the right track with marijuana legalization, and is moving in a progressive direction. Luckily, California is one of the states who has legalized recreational marijuana dispensary.

Our dispensary in Lemon Grove, The Boulevard, has a team of experienced budtenders who will be more than happy to assist you with your cannabis shopping. If you have more questions or are interested in trying weed products, stop by our San Diego dispensary (we’re open 7 days a week) or visit our website.