By Eli McVey
Nearly 60% of the U.S. population now lives in states that have legalized some form of marijuana use and sales, illustrating the rising acceptance of cannabis nationwide and highlighting the industry’s immense potential for future growth.
Rewind just 10 years and the map was essentially the inverse of where it is now, with pockets of light green dotting a largely white landscape.
Last week, three new states joined the marijuana club: Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota, which legalized medical cannabis. Four others that already had medical marijuana laws on the books legalized recreational: California, Maine (though a recount is possible), Massachusetts and Nevada.
These new markets could create $7 billion to $8 billion in additional retail revenue for the industry, according to estimates by Marijuana Business Daily.
In total, 29 states plus Washington DC have legalized MMJ, while eight states plus DC have legalized recreational.
After the big win in California last week, the entire West Coast has now legalized marijuana for recreational use, while 21% of the U.S. population lives in states with adult-use laws.
The entirety of the Northeast and most of the northern border states have some form of legal marijuana laws on the books, leaving large swaths of the South and Midwest as the only legalization holdouts.
The remaining states without legal marijuana are largely conservative – with the exception of Virginia, each of these states voted for Trump in last week’s election – but that does not necessarily preclude them from pushing something through in the future.
Support for marijuana legalization does not fall strictly on party lines, as Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota all passed medical marijuana initiatives and went for Trump in the election.
Momentum for marijuana legalization seems to have reached a fever pitch, and current trends suggest it will continue at a brisk pace for the forseeable future.
Eli McVey can be reached at [email protected]