Federal Legalization Could Happen If These Three States Legalize Cannabis
In the early days use of marijuana was restricted. There was fear and misconception regarding the plant, but gradually, research gave way to a more informed view. Now, almost all the States are recognizing the plant's potential benefits. In recent years, many States have fully legalized marijuana for both medical and recreational use. This rapid legalization is changing the landscape in the United States, reshaping its society, economy, and the world views of marijuana. A majority of Americans are now favoring legalization. The rapid legalization of marijuana in the United States is a major shift toward cannabis.
So why is federal legislation not happening yet?
The status is that marijuana is fully legal in states like New York, California, and Colorado, partially legal in Florida, Georgia, and Hawaii, and completely illegal in a few states like Wyoming and North Carolina. There are many factors leading to the lack of federal legalization. One is the lack of consensus on regulating marijuana at the federal level. Other factors like taxation, age restriction, and product safety standards must also be addressed properly to pave the way for federal legalization.
Legalizing marijuana in these 3 States may help.
As resistance is diminishing, legalizing marijuana fully in these 3 States could be a step toward federal legalization: Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Among the most conservative states in the country, the use of marijuana is still not completely legal here. It has legalized the use of marijuana at the medical level if a person has obtained a Medical Marijuana Use Authorization. The recreational use of marijuana is still not legal in the State.
However, gradual changes happen as attitudes around cannabis change at the state level. A 2022 poll showed 64% of Florida voters supported that adults should be allowed to use marijuana for recreational purposes.
Since June 2015, many cities and counties in Florida have passed ordinances that allow officers the discretion to replace arrests for possession of 20 grams of cannabis with citations. These jurisdictions include Tampa, Orlando, Key West, and Sarasota.
While this is seen as a positive change, the citation payment could still be a criminal record, and hence, caution is necessary.
Ohio, a conservative, rust-belt State, is now showing a sign of softening the rigorous laws pertaining to marijuana prohibition. A ballot measure that legalized recreational cannabis with restrictions on sales and cultivation failed on election day back in 2015. However, cannabis activists have pursued legalizing the cultivation, manufacturing, and sales of marijuana through their proposals.
In Ohio, marijuana is legal for medical use but illegal for recreational use. The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy regulates the use of marijuana in the medical field. Individuals need to have legal permission to possess marijuana. In Ohio, to get approved for treating medical conditions using marijuana, a doctor certified by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy must diagnose it.
However, after two years of consistent efforts of getting signatures and legislative negotiations, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol has succeeded in officially qualifying its adult-use legalization initiative for the November 2023 ballot. If the votes approve the measure, Ohio will soon become the 24th State to end the policy of cannabis prohibition.
In Ohio, non-medical marijuana patients holding less than 100 grams of marijuana, giving 20 grams to someone, or growing less than 100 grams of marijuana are all considered "minor misdemeanors" and amount to a fine of $150.
Medical marijuana legalization in Pennsylvania was approved by Pennsylvania Governor Wolf in 2016. It seems predictable that Pennsylvania would legalize recreational use of marijuana after its neighboring states, New York and New Jersey, recently legalized recreational use of cannabis. Senator Sharif Street and Senator Dan Laughlin introduced SB 846 to legalize and regulate adult-use cannabis in Pennsylvania in July 2023. This bill would permit adults 21 years or older to purchase, possess, or gift up to 30 grams of cannabis.
With the support of the governor, the House's Democratic majority, and other supporters in the Senate Republican caucus, there might be a good chance of marijuana legalization in Pennsylvania very soon.
A CBS news poll from 2022 found that two of every three voters support adult-use cannabis. However, complete decriminalization of marijuana still hasn't happened in Pennsylvania.
Even though cannabis is illegal for recreational use in Pennsylvania, possession of it in small amounts is decriminalized in some of its cities.
In Pennsylvania, holding 30 grams or less of flower is considered a misdemeanor that calls for a punishment of 30 days in jail or/and a fine of $500. Holding more than 30 grams of flower is also considered a misdemeanor and calls for a maximum penalty of six–twelve months and a fine of $5000. A subsequent conviction leads to eighteen – thirty-six months incarceration and a $25,000 fine.
Post its widespread medical use, people started to use marijuana in recreational form. Colorado and Washington were some of the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use fully. Alaska and Oregon followed this. Since then, many states have joined, allowing adults to purchase and consume marijuana.
The State law also stated that one can purchase or consume marijuana without a medical card. This has further reshaped how the world views marijuana.
The legalization of marijuana in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania will boost the speed of its legalization across all the remaining states. And we could see a federal-level legalization very soon.
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