Chart of the Week: Increasing Pace of Recreational, Medical Marijuana Legalization

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By Jennifer Mann

If the recent past is any indication, the cannabis industry should be optimistic for legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana at the state level in 2015 and beyond.

Over the last five years, a whopping 16 cannabis legalization measures cleared state legislatures or were approved by voters (not including CBD-focused initiatives). Of those, five measures legalized recreational marijuana – in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington State and Washington DC.

During the previous nine years – from 2001 to 2009 – just five states legalized medical marijuana, and none moved forward with rec.

In fact, more marijuana legalization measures have passed at the state level since 2010 than before that year, dating all the way back to when California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis in 1996.

All of that bodes well for the future of the industry as advocates attempt to push through recreational or medical cannabis measure this year and next in scores of states. Even some states that have been viewed as laggards on the cannabis front,  such as Missouri and Kansas, are mounting well-organized ballot initiative petition drives and/or lobbying state legislatures to pass marijuana legalization measures.

Jennifer Mann can be reached at