Nov 8, 2023 - Health

Marijuana legal for more than half of Americans after election win

Marijuana legalization by state
Note: Some states categorized as illegal permit CBD for medical use. Data: DISA and staff research; Chart: Axios Visuals

More than half of Americans reside in states where marijuana will be legal after Ohio voters approved a measure to allow recreational marijuana use.

The big picture: Ohio became the 24th state to allow adult cannabis use for nonmedical purposes with nearly 57% voting for the ballot initiative Tuesday, according to the state's unofficial election results.

  • Medicinal use is legal in 38 states.

Why it matters: Seven in 10 Americans think marijuana use should be legal, according to a new Gallup poll released Wednesday of 1,009 adults.

  • This is the highest level yet after holding steady at 68% for three years.
  • The majority support crosses political party lines, Gallup found with 87% of self-identified Democrats, 70% of Independents and 55% of Republicans backing legal marijuana.
Share who say they think marijuana use should be&nbsplegal
Data: Gallup; Chart: Axios Visuals

By the numbers: The legalized marijuana market is worth $64 billion and has nearly tripled in three years as legalization efforts have swept the nation, a 2022 Coresight Research report found.

  • About two-thirds of marijuana users in Coresight's study said they've increased their drug usage since it was legalized.

Of note: In August, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials recommended the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to move marijuana to a lower-risk category under the Controlled Substances Act.

  • President Biden announced last year that he would pardon all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession and called on governors to pardon simple state possession offenses.

Is marijuana legal in Ohio now?

State of play: Ohio's new law could go into effect in 30 days and allows those 21 and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis in most forms and grow up to six plants at home, with a household max of 12 plants, reports Tyler Buchanan with Axios Columbus.

Yes, but: Because Ohio voters passed an initiative, not a constitutional amendment state lawmakers can adjust or even repeal the law.

  • Republican legislative leaders have been opposed to it and the state Senate president has said the legislature will review the law and potentially change its tax proceeds.

States where marijuana is legal and illegal

Zoom in: Kentucky became the 38th state to legalize medical marijuana when Gov. Andy Beshear signed a bill for medicinal cannabis into law on March 31.

  • In four states — Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina and Wyoming — marijuana is fully illegal, according to DISA Global Solutions, a drug testing company.
  • The National Conference of State Legislatures' map of state-regulated cannabis programs shows Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming allow for CBD or low-THC products.

What's next: TD Cowen analyst Eric Assaraf wrote Wednesday to expect "state-based legalization efforts will continue to shift toward red states as the number of pickup opportunities in blue states has narrowed."

  • "This is an important trend to watch as legalization in conservative states could improve the political calculus on the federal level," Assaraf wrote.

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