Marijuana Legalization
August 23, 2016
Will more states decriminalize the drug?

Legal sales of recreational marijuana in the United States nearly tripled between 2014 and 2015 — from $351 million to $998 million, according to research firms that track the marijuana industry. An additional $4.4 billion was spent on medical marijuana. Currently 26 states and the District of Columbia allow some form of marijuana use: 18 states have legalized medical marijuana, four allow medical and recreational use and four plus the District of Columbia have removed jail time for possessing small amounts. Both Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump support at least legalizing marijuana for medical use. Marijuana remains banned under federal law, and efforts to legalize it have been mixed. Federal courts this year dismissed a series of challenges against states that have legalized the drug. But Congress repeatedly has declined to overturn the federal ban.

A worker tends marijuana plants in a greenhouse in Avondale, Colo., in February 2015. The success of Colorado’s marijuana industry has led other states to consider legalization. (Getty Images/Bloomberg/Matthew Staver)   A worker tends marijuana plants in a greenhouse in Avondale, Colo., in February 2015. The success of Colorado’s marijuana industry has led other states to consider legalization. (Getty Images/Bloomberg/Matthew Staver)

Nearly one year to the day after Oregon legalized recreational use of marijuana, the Oregon Cannabis Association held a fair in downtown Portland in July to bring together business entrepreneurs and consumers eager to make the most of the new law.

Tickets sold out weeks in advance, and sponsors included businesses outside the state’s marijuana industry, such as a local coffee chain. Organizers said the event would give people the opportunity to “celebrate the incredible bounty of Oregon cannabis.” Footnote 1

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