Facts About Americans and Marijuana

9 Facts About Americans and Marijuana

Over the past few decades, marijuana, sometimes referred to as cannabis, has been the subject of intense discussion, legislation, and cultural shift in the United States. The connection between marijuana and Americans is complicated and constantly changing, having gone from being considered an illicit narcotic to being legalized for both medical and recreational use in several places. Here, we explore nine key facts that shed insight into this complex relationship.

  1. Historical Context of Marijuana in America

Marijuana has a lengthy and complex history in the United States. Cannabis was lawful in many forms until the early 20th century, and it was first used medicinally in the 19th century. But in the 1930s, attitudes toward marijuana started to shift, as did its legal status. Due to an extensive media campaign that stigmatized marijuana usage, as well as racial and economic issues, the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act effectively criminalized the plant. 

Marijuana was categorized as a Schedule I drug by the Controlled Substances Act in the 1970s, meaning it had no recognized medical purpose and a significant potential for abuse. Marijuana was classified with other narcotics like heroin and LSD, which had a big impact on popular opinion and legislative decisions.

  1. Medical Marijuana and its Acceptance

When California passed Proposition 215 in 1996 to become the first state to legalize medical marijuana, the tide started to turn in the 1990s. This signaled the start of cannabis’s wider recognition for medicinal uses. Currently, 38 states, the District of Columbia, and a number of US territories have legalized medical marijuana. 

Numerous ailments, such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic pain, and cancer-related symptoms, are treated using medical marijuana. In many regions of the country, medicinal marijuana is becoming a common therapeutic option due to changes in public attitude and legislation brought about by the expanding corpus of research demonstrating its effectiveness for specific ailments.

  1. Recreational Marijuana Legalization

Significant efforts have been made to legalize marijuana for recreational use, following the example established by its medical usage. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. By 2024, marijuana for recreational use will be allowed in 23 states plus the District of Columbia. This wave of legalization is a reflection of shifting public perceptions of marijuana as well as an understanding of the financial advantages of a controlled cannabis industry.

States where marijuana is legal for recreational use have reported significant tax income from sales of the drug, which are frequently used for infrastructure, public health, and education initiatives. For instance, since legalization, taxes in Colorado have brought in over $1 billion.

  1. Public Opinion on Marijuana

Over the past few decades, marijuana use has dramatically changed the perception of the general public. By 2023, over 91% of Americans will think that marijuana should be legal for either medical or recreational use, with 60% of them specifically supporting legalization for recreational use, according to the Pew Research Center. 

Different demographics show this movement, with younger generations generally supporting legalization more than older generations do. But support for legal marijuana has grown dramatically in recent years, even among older Americans. Marijuana’s increasing popularity is a reflection of larger social shifts and the shift toward more liberal drug laws.

  1. Economic Impact of Marijuana Legalization

There has been a significant economic impact from the legalization of marijuana. By 2025, it is anticipated that the legal cannabis market in the US will bring in more than $40 billion yearly. This covers not just direct sales but also associated sectors like retail, distribution, and cultivation, in addition to ancillary services like marketing, security, and legal advice.

In states where marijuana is legal, legalization has also resulted in the creation of hundreds of thousands of employment and increased economic growth. Furthermore, the tax money received from the sale of cannabis contributes significantly to governmental budgets and public services. For instance, legal marijuana sales brought in over $2.5 billion in tax revenue to the US in just 2020.

  1. Challenges in Federal vs. State Legislation

Notwithstanding the developments at the state level, marijuana is still prohibited by federal law and is categorized as a Schedule I drug. Businesses and individuals participating in the legal cannabis industry face a variety of difficulties as a result of this disparity. For example, cannabis companies frequently encounter challenges when trying to obtain banking services since many banks are reluctant to cooperate with an industry that is prohibited by federal law.

The government regulations limiting the breadth of scientific investigations on marijuana have an impact on research as well. To get study approval, researchers must negotiate a challenging regulatory environment, which impedes the advancement of a thorough understanding of cannabis and its effects.

Efforts to address these challenges include proposed federal legislation such as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which aims to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and expunge the records of those convicted of marijuana-related offenses.

  1. Social and Racial Justice Issues

Social justice and racial justice issues are closely linked to the history of marijuana prohibition. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that the effects of marijuana enforcement policies are disproportionately felt by people of color, especially Black and Hispanic people. These populations have greater rates of marijuana-related arrests and incarcerations despite the fact that marijuana usage rates are comparable among racial groups.

With the help of programs to encourage diversity in the cannabis sector and the expungement of prior convictions, legalization efforts have started to alleviate these discrepancies. People from neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs can get assistance from social equity initiatives in places like Illinois and California to access the legal cannabis market.

  1. Health and Safety Concerns

Marijuana carries some health concerns even though it is generally regarded as less hazardous than many other narcotics, such as alcohol and tobacco. The potential effects of marijuana usage on mental health are a source of concern, especially for those who are predisposed to psychiatric problems. Excessive and extended usage can also result in dependence and cognitive decline, particularly in young individuals whose brains are still growing.

Another major safety hazard is driving when high on marijuana. According to research, marijuana deteriorates judgment, reaction times, and motor skills, which raises the possibility of mishaps. States where marijuana is legalized have taken a number of steps to address these problems, such as enacting stronger laws against driving while intoxicated and launching public education campaigns.

  1. Future Trends and Developments

Cannabis in America will probably change in the future because of continuing legal, cultural, and scientific advancements. Future trends that could emerge are as follows:

Federal Legalization: If states and the public continue to exert pressure, federal legalization may eventually occur, which would solve a lot of the present issues facing the cannabis business.

Increased Research: As obstacles to research are removed, more thorough studies on the medical advantages, social consequences, and health effects of marijuana will be published, offering a better knowledge of the drug’s place in society.

Worldwide Impact: The United States is not the only country changing its position on marijuana. International movements toward decriminalization and legalization could have an impact on US laws and behavior.

Technological Innovations: As cannabis production, product development, and consumption technologies advance, customers will have access to new and potentially safer marijuana use options.


Americans and marijuana have a complex and dynamic relationship that reflects larger social, political, and economic tendencies. There has been a lot of development and continuous discussion around marijuana in the United States, from historical prohibition to current legalization initiatives. The future of marijuana in America is still a significant and dynamic topic as public opinion continues to change and new research clarifies the impacts and advantages of cannabis.

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