Still, like any substance, it’s important that if you live in a state that has now or recently legalized marijuana to keep anything safely locked, stored, and out of sight and reach of your children. It’s also important to, just like alcohol, not partake in the drugs around your children, because of the mental, emotional, and social effects, along with the unknown physical health effects.
And while you can’t yet buy legal weed in New Jersey, it is now officially decriminalized, and the rules that the legal cannabis industry will have to follow in the Garden State are now in place. In New York, which legalized weed on the last day of March, possessing marijuana is now legal, as is smoking in public anywhere you can smoke tobacco. But dispensaries are about a year and a half away.
And then there’s the money. Part of the reason voters like legalizing weed is the demonstrated impact it can have on the economy. After Colorado legalized weed, the state gave the tax dollars from weed sales to their public school systems to the tune of $160 million in the first five years. The states that are joining Colorado can expect to see a similar economic boom from the legalized, taxed, and regulated sale of the drug.
States Where Adult Recreational Use of Marijuana Is Legal
A handful of other states across the country have already legalized and decriminalized the drug for recreational and medical use, suggesting that voters have changed their minds about whether marijuana is a gateway drug and whether people deserve to go to jail for possessing it.
For parents of color and parents of older teenagers, legalization for people over 21 comes as a positive good in a time where young adults can have their entire careers, lives, and educational futures derailed if they’re caught with a gram of weed on them.
Because the legalization of recreational marijuana is happening on a state-by-state basis, the question of where is weed legal may be one that some have trouble answering. But luckily, we’ve made a marijuana map that shows states with legal weed. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the fast-track to legalization happening all over the country, let’s get into the basics of legal weed.
Marijuana can be purchased from a dispensary with a valid state-issued card in these states. Some of them also allow patients to harvest a limited amount of their own weed for personal medical use.
“We want to do this the right way, and what that means is ending the disparate enforcement, which is going to make a huge change in the lives of thousands of Virginians,” said Alena Yarmosky, Gov. Ralph Northam’s spokeswoman. She said the administration also recognizes the “reality” that “people have marijuana now,” even though it is illegal in Virginia.
Under Virginia’s law, buying and selling marijuana will remain illegal until Jan. 1, 2024, when retail sales are expected to begin. Smoking marijuana in public also remains against the law.
“The only legal sale of cannabis in Virginia is through the medical (marijuana) program,” Pedini said.
Virginia is joining 17 other states with laws allowing adults to possess and consume marijuana. In each one, laws have legalized simple possession before establishing a legal marketplace for buying and selling marijuana, said Jenn Michelle Pedini, the development director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Although people can legally cultivate marijuana plants beginning July 1, it will still be illegal for anyone to buy cannabis seeds or cuttings needed to grow those plants. That’s one of the contradictions bothering Republican Sen. Ryan McDougle, who voted against the legislation.
Adding to the confusion: lawmakers included a “reenactment clause,” which means the General Assembly will have to vote again next year on major portions of the law, mainly to establish a regulatory framework for the legal marijuana marketplace.
In the original bill, both possession and sales of marijuana would have been legalized in 2024. But many social justice advocates pushed to immediately end the disparate treatment of people of color under existing marijuana laws.