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Despite past illegality, marijuana use for medical purposes has risen steadily in recent years. Here are the states where it's legally available.

Here are all the legal U.S. states with medical marijuana use

With each election cycle, it seems like more and more states are decriminalizing marijuana. Or, at least, making it available to those who want to take it medically without having to worry about lengthy drug sentences. While the high total of prison time people used to serve for marijuana is definitely a conversation that needs to be had, the big news is that people are taking steps to make it available.

Marijuana has long been given a pretty bum rap in the states. If you’ve ever seen Reefer Madness, then you know the kind of things that were said about the drug. Keep in mind the original Reefer Madness happened during a time when heroin and cocaine were considered to be perfectly fine medical treatments.

In the 2020 U.S. election, we had to wait days and days to get a victor in the Presidential race along with Senate and House races. Despite this, there was still a clear victor come Election Night: marijuana. So where does the U.S. stand on legalizing marijuana? What states in 2020 decided to give the a-ok to it? Here’s everything you need to know about all the U.S. states with legal medical marijuana use.

What States already had it?

Colorado and Massachusetts set the trend for legalizing marijuana back in 2012. Colorado has made about $7.79 billion in sales over the course of eight years. While marijuana in Massachusetts is legal both recreationally and medically. Alaska has had an interesting history with marijuana as it’s been legal for medical use since 1998. In 2014, however, they were given the go ahead for marijuana production and recreational usage.

The District of Columbia has had the use of marijuana for medical and “adult” purposes legal since 2014. Oregon has had weed legal since 1998, but made the recreational usage of it legal (you have to be 21 and over) in 2014. Again, it’s a similar story in Washington state. Medical marijuana was legal in 1998, but the recreational usage was given the go ahead in 2015.

California has had medical marijuana on the books since 1996, but made it legal recreationally in 2016. Also joining in for medical and recreational usage of marijuana in 2016 are Maine and Nevada. Michigan became the first Midwest state to pass a law in 2018 for medical and recreational marijuana usage. Guam and Illinois joined in 2019. This brings it to 11 states plus DC and Guam.

Who legalized in 2020?

In 2020, New Jersey, Vermont, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota legalized marijuana for either medical and/or recreational usages in 2020. Montana, especially, is notable for legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana at the same time. While in some states, such as New Jersey and South Dakota, marijuana was legalized, the legislatures there need time to hammer out the rules and regulations surrounding it.

What 2020 showcases is a growing trend and changing attitude toward marijuana as a more holistic remedy rather than a dangerous “gateway” drug from the 80s. In addition to legalizing marijuana in 2020, the District of Columbia legalized psilocybin, which is found in psychedelic mushrooms.

Oregon also legalized psilocybin and decriminalized possession of small amounts of illegal drugs, such as heroin, though the sale of them is still illegal.

What does it mean for the future?

Between overpopulated prisons, how drug laws affect minorities in a greater number, and the ongoing opioid crisis, people are changing long-held views on drugs. Adding to the fact that the War on Drugs from the 80s has lost its appeal even among conservatives, it’s an issue no one really wants to fight each other on anymore. Especially since cannabis sales are making a lot of money.

If the trend continues, then we can expect to see more and more states legalize the use of marijuana in the coming years.

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