144 Million Americans Now Live in States with Legal Recreational Marijuana
Advocates for marijuana legalization won another victory last month when Governor Dan McKee signed new legislation legalizing recreational marijuana in the the state. New Hampshire—where cannabis is “only” decriminalized and legal for medical purposes—is now the only state in New England where recreational marijuana is not legal.
With Rhode Island now added to the legalization bloc, this means more than 144 million Americans now live in states where recreational cannabis has been legalized. That’s 43% of the US population.
Proportion of US population by cannabis legalization status:
Rhode Island is also one of a growing number of states where recreational cannabis has been legalized through the legislative process rather than through statewide referenda or voter initiatives. Initially, recreational legalization was only politically possibly through voter initiatives, as legislators refused to approve legalization themselves. The first successful cases of this were in Colorado and Washington State in 2012, and that was followed in 2014 by Alaska and Oregon. Since then, recreational cannabis has been legalized through a variety of methods in 15 other states for a total of 19.
As with gun policy, school vouchers, and apparently abortion policy, cannabis policy is increasingly dominated by state-level legislation. With cannabis, this comes in spite of the fact that federal policy has not actually been changed in this regard. Marijuana is still formally targeted by by federal bureaucrats as an i