Marijuana legalization: Where is cannabis above board?

by Carter Toni

As cannabis has begun to be more widely accepted within society, there has been an increasing push towards legalization. There are many positive aspects correlated with adopting this type of legislation, such as better regulation procedures, an end to the racial profiling enforced as a result of current marijuana laws, as well as economic benefits. For starters, it could result in better tax revenues. In 2021, Washington collected over $85 million more in legal cannabis revenue compared to the previous year. Colorado also recorded an increase of nearly 10% compared to 2020.

The aggregate value for all US states fit nearly $4 billion for adult-use, legal cannabis sales. These values were calculated without the added revenue generated for state, city and town budgets. Some of the states that have only recently legalized marijuana haven’t begun collecting taxes yet, so the figures are sure to rise over the following years. As such, if marijuana became federally legal, there could be an additional $105.5 billion in federal tax revenue by 2025.

Unclear future

Although many US states have taken the necessary steps towards approving and passing the legislation that will see marijuana become legal, several remain on the fence about the issue. One example is Kansas, where the future of marijuana legalization remains uncertain. One Kansas senator recently claimed that he sees no reason to rush forward with adopting Senate Bill 171. This bill would legalize medical and recreational use for combat veterans with a valid medical card. He has called for more research before anything is decided, citing potential concerns over cannabis consumption and creating a special committee to consider all the aspects involved in legalization.

Some lawmakers have even considered that the association of marijuana legalization with veterans is offensive, claiming that the effects of cannabis consumption are more likely to be negative rather than positive and even exacerbate the symptoms of patients struggling with chronic illnesses. A second bill, House Bill 2363, also known as the Cannabis Amnesty Act, would decriminalize marijuana altogether, meaning individuals convicted and imprisoned over marijuana-related offenses would be immediately released and have the convictions removed from their personal records.

Senate Bill 560, which was set to allow the cultivation, distribution, and purchase of cannabis, was disproved during the last few days of the legislative session. As such, with such staunch opposition and vocal detractors in place, it will still be a while until cannabis is legalized at a federal level in the United States.

California greenhouses

When it comes to legalization efforts, California is one of the states that has paved the way. Medical cannabis was legalized back in 1996 with the passage of the Compassionate Use Act. Now, the state is active in developments that might help marijuana become legal nationwide. In this sense, the state is fighting the long game and looking forward to the future.

One greenhouse, in particular, offers five million square feet of indoor cannabis cultivation. That’s roughly the equivalent of nearly 90 football fields. Marijuana isn’t difficult to grow compared to other plants. However, some special conditions are necessary to grow healthy, resilient plants that can provide users with a high-quality product. Some of the key requirements are high humidity, a temperature of around 85 Fahrenheit, and loam soil, a mixture of sand, clay and silt.

However, there are variations in cultivation depending on the type of plant used. For example, autoflowering seeds transition from vegetative to flowering without the need for different lighting, making them more low-maintenance than other varieties. They’re also more compact and better adapted to handling pests, meaning that they’re available for harvesting much faster in legal markets. There are many different types of cannabis seeds, and cultivators need to understand the differences between them and work with their cultivation environment to discover the best options. Some varieties thrive indoors, while others are better suited for an outdoor environment. Some cannabis types, such as Black Sugar or Strawberry Cheesecake, offer higher yields, while Purple Punch and Pineapple Chunk are resistant to mold.

With the industry developing at a fast pace due to increasing demands in the wake of legalization, cultivars are determined to expand their businesses nationally. However, since legalization offers are still underway, many are still waiting for the opportunity to expand when the time is right.

Advantages of legalization

The economic aspect is just one of the benefits of legalizing marijuana. Cannabis laws are enforced disproportionately, with white people being less likely to be arrested for cannabis possession compared to other ethnicities, despite similar consumption rates. Driving the market underground creates unfavorable conditions and violence, making buyers and sellers more vulnerable.

Prohibiting cannabis is also bad for the environment. Illegal growers cultivate marijuana in unsafe spaces or use banned pesticides and other unhealthy substances that cause pollution and can be harmful to human health. When cannabis production becomes regulated, it is much easier to discover the growers using inadequate practices and oust them from business. The facilities used for growing marijuana are also subjected to frequent audits that can determine whether they comply with their region’s environmental and zoning laws.

The bottom line

A large portion of the American public believes that the recreational use of marijuana should be legalized. Recent polls show that two-thirds of Americans want federal legalization in their state. The results have changed over the years. Back in 1969, only 12% of respondents were in favor of legalization. The figure jumped to 31% in 2000, then 50% a decade ago, reaching a whopping 68% in 2022.

People under the age of 30 are more likely to be in favor, but those aged 50 to 64 are also more likely than not to agree with legalization, with 62% endorsing it. From a political standpoint, those identifying themselves as democrats have traditionally been more open towards cannabis legalization, but polls show that a majority of republicans are now in favor as well.

Considering all these aspects, it’s easy to imagine that the future of nationwide legalization is not far off.

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