The legalization of marijuana in America has been moving at a breakneck speed in recent years as states and territories across the nation have adopted regulations to allow for the medical or recreational use of cannabis.
Earlier in 2016, marijuana legalization in America reached a tipping point: Medical marijuana became legal in half of the 50 states. Election 2016 brought additional states into the fold: Now eight states and Washington, D.C., allow adult-use recreational marijuana; 28 states have approved medical marijuana programs.
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The public sentiment toward marijuana also has been growing.
In October 2015, Gallup reported that 58 percent of Americans favored the legalization of marijuana — tying 2013 for the highest acceptance rate recorded in the 46 years that the international pollster has conducted marijuana surveys. That acceptance rate, which was 12 percent in 1969 and a little more than 30 percent in 2000, accelerated after Colorado and Washington voted in 2012 to legalize marijuana for adult use.
In March 2016, an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found that 61 percent of Americans supported marijuana legalization. The majority of those people surveyed leaned more in favor of legalizing medical marijuana than recreational uses.
The path toward legalization, however, hasn’t been the smoothest. Some states are adopting regulations with great caution and even greater restrictions, measures in regions such as the Bible Belt and South largely have not been successful, and battles have waged to undo laws already in place.
And then there’s the elephant in the room: Marijuana remains illegal on the federal level and remains a Schedule I substance in the eyes of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies. The leading candidates for U.S. president have expressed that they support states’ rights in the legalization discussion.
Amidst this rapidly changing landscape, the following interactive map provides context on marijuana legalization in America.