With 22.2 million Americans reporting they've gotten high within the past month, it's no secret that the U.S. is having an increasingly open love affair with cannabis. But which states are the most open-minded when it comes to cannabis?
The results are in via 24/7 Wall Street, who looked at 2013 and 2014 surveys from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to figure out which states are getting high most often. The results could be handy for those looking to relocate to greener pastures, find a job in the cannabis industry, or get easier access to medical marijuana.
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While medical marijuana use has been allowed in Washington since 1998, it wasn't until 2012 that it became, with Colorado, one of the first states to permit recreational sales. Since then, estimates on the number of cannabis consumers in Washington State are as high as 1,105,000: 19.5 percent of Washingtonians reported using cannabis in the past year. The state has also reaped major fiscal benefits: according to a 2015 budget forecast by the Office of Financial Management, cannabis sales taxes could bring in more than $1 billion over the next four years.
Alaska only legalized in February 2015: since then, roughly 7,000 people in America's largest, least-densely populated state have tried marijuana. Unlike the majority of states, even those with legal medical markets, Alaskans over the age of 21 are allowed to legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana, and grow up to six plants; however, anybody caught violating the limits can be hit with felony charges, as many as five years in jail, and fines as high as $50,000.
Vermont boasts the third-highest number of Americans who have smoked marijuana within the past year at 19.8%, working out to 108,000 users. Nonprofit think tank Rand Corporation found that Vermonters "likely consumed as much as 25 metric tons of marijuana, and spent up to $225-million getting high in 2014 alone," according to 24/7 Wall Street; however, that doesn't mean you're guaranteed to get off scot-free if you're found in possession. Currently, Vermonters nabbed with an ounce can get a $200 fine, and holding 10 pounds or more could mean fines of up to half a million dollars.
Some folks in Oregon seem a little bummed out that the Beaver State ranked number two; however, given that cannabis has only been legal in Oregon since since October 1, 2015, snagging the second-place spot is still pretty impressive. Almost 20 percent of Oregonians - 19.9 percent - report having smoked in the past year: nearly one in five people aged 12 and older. As one of four states that have legalized recreational consumption, it's legal in Oregon to possess up to 8 ounces of pot, and cultivate up to four plants. Still, those caught with more than 4 ounces in public can still get jail time and fines as high as $6,250.
Shutterstock / Arina P Habich
It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Colorado is out-greening the rest of America by a long shot: in the first state to legalize recreational cannabis, 21.6 percent of the population reports getting high in the past year: it's estimated that the state generated $135 million in taxes and fees from all marijuana businesses in 2015. Weirdly, even though you're allowed to legally possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, Colorado pot-smokers still not allowed to consume in public. All things in time.
Banner Image: Historical Larimer Squarre, Denver, Colorado, June 20, 2016. By Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com