With the recent approval of New Hampshire’s medical marijuana legalization measure, 20 states have now passed a medical cannabis law, either through a voter-approved initiative, or through a legislative proposal. It’s worth pointing out that this makes 40% of the entire United States.
This is exciting, and inspiring. As advocates of cannabis law reform, we obviously understand that this isn’t enough – and even in the 20 medical cannabis states the laws aren’t perfect – but we can’t lose sight of the fact that it’s an astonishing turn of events that in 17 years, from the passing of Prop 215 in California in 1996, to the victories over the past several years, things have advanced quickly, and public opinion has shifted drastically; in fact, polling shows that over 80% of those in the U.S. support legalizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes (some of the most recent polling shows it as high as 85%). This is huge, and shows that even after decades of intense propaganda, the public can still be swayed with logic, compassion and facts.
Things aren’t slowing down anytime soon.
The Illinois Legislature has recently approved a measure legalizing medical cannabis, which the governor isn’t expected to veto. This makes state number 21. New York – whose House has approved a measure legalizing medical cannabis; it awaits a vote in the Senate – could turnout to be the 22nd (as could any number of other states).
Soon – if not by next year – 50% of the U.S. will have legalized medical cannabis, or at least passed some form of positive medical cannabis law. The states that continue to prohibit medical cannabis will topple quickly from there, simultaneous with the uprising of recreational legalization.
The pressure on the feds is mounting like never before.