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These Charts Show the Evolution of America's Marijuana Laws Over Time

We all know more and more states are legalizing marijuana every year in the United States. But that doesn't mean we're all well-informed on exactly when legalization actually occurred in those states. 

Luckily, the centrist think tank "Third Way" released a collection of charts showing the history of marijuana legalization in the United States. They also included an analysis of how all those laws came into existence and how future legalization efforts can learn from the past. But for now, we'll just enjoy these charts.

Current Marijuana Laws in Every State

state marijuana laws

This shows the current state of marijuana laws in each state. The diagonal color states are where both medical and recreational cannabis is legal, red is where only medical is legal, green is where small amounts of cannabis has been de-criminalized and white is where it's still completely illegal.

Timeline of Marijuana Legalization

marijuana laws timeline

In this chart, we see when every state legalized both recreational and medical marijuana. 2014 and 2016 were pretty big years!

Percent of American Population Living in Each Legalization Category

population in marijuana states

Here we see what percentage of the U.S. population lives in each category of legalization. More than 62 percent of Americans live in states where recreational and/or medical marijuana is currently legal.

Number of Americans Living in States with Legalized Marijuana

number of people living in marijuana states

Unsurprisingly, more Americans live in states with some form of legalized marijuana than ever before.

American Opinions on Marijuana Legalization

marijuana opinions chart

Here we can see how dramatically Americans' opinions on marijuana legalization have changed. In the mid-2000s, 60 percent of the population believed marijuana should remain illegal. Just over a decade later, and around 60 percent of people support legalization.

How States Legalized Medical Marijuana

how states legalized marijuana

Here we see how every state legalized medical marijuana, whether by ballot initiative or through the legislature. It's fairly mixed, whereas currently every state that's legalized recreational marijuana has done so through ballot initiative. 

Third Way has more charts on their website, as well as some more thorough analysis about what they think all this data means for the future of legalization. Hint: The future is bright.


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