Marijuana Reform Law in the United States News Update Today December 21, 2015:
Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado are currently the four states that have passed laws that permit the use of recreational marijuana. 23 states have already approved medical marijuana reform in the U.S. and a handful of these states are expected to be contenders for recreational marijuana reform in 2016. The push to reform marijuana law continues to thrive and the momentum rolling into 2016 is significant. The marijuana industry has grown into a billion dollar one in the U.S., and this is happening all while the federal government continues to prohibit marijuana on a national level. Advocates believe that state by state reform is the most likely avenue to the eventual end to national prohibition. Although many states are considering reform to medical and recreational marijuana law, some are taking the smaller step of decriminalization. Decriminalization is different than legalization, but it is considered a step in the direction of legalization for many states that are being more conservative regarding their reform process. Some see decriminalization as a vital step toward legalization, and some see it as a necessary step for reasons other than legalization potentials.
Marijuana Decriminalization Update:
Right now, there are 19 states that have decriminalized marijuana in some form. These states include Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont. In most of these states, decriminalization of marijuana means that a person found to be in possession of a small amount of marijuana may avoid arrest, prison time or even a criminal record. Once marijuana is decriminalized, the penalty for the first time possession of a small amount of marijuana may result in a relatively small fine similar to those given for minor traffic violations. Cities are getting into the act as well. Even though Pennsylvania has not joined the ranks of states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana, city governments have taken charge of their own reform process. Philadelphia previously passed an ordinance to decriminalize marijuana within city limits and just this week, Pittsburgh voted to do the same thing.
Marijuana reform is building momentum in the U.S., and the path to ending prohibition may by one state at a a time, or even one city at a time. Little by little, the national stance on marijuana prohibition is changing. The tipping point of legalized marijuana may be upon us.