Positive state marijuana legalization trends can be further boosted by federal legalization

Illustration of a marijuana dispensary.
Amanda Tsang/Staff

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In the early part of the 20th century, marijuana was typically portrayed as a gateway drug that would get you hooked and ruin your life. Many people may recall the early smear campaigns that turned the public eye against cannabis for years, or the television ads comparing brains on drugs to fried eggs and marijuana users to lifeless skin bags on sofas. Now, research has started to catch up and recognize the medical benefits of marijuana such as relief for epilepsy. With these realizations, individual states have slowly begun to decriminalize and legalize it for medical and recreational use. Marijuana has started to positively change the industry landscape and other realms throughout the country.

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. Oregon, Alaska and Washington would soon follow in 1998. Thousands of individuals and families affected by severe medical conditions such as epileptic seizures and severe insomnia flocked to these states for a chance at the relief medical marijuana could provide them. Not so long ago, we saw the first states legalize marijuana for recreational use. No doubt, years of studies defining the positive effects of marijuana, as well as campaigns promoting it, began to find footholds within state legislation. Cannabidiol-based, or CBD, products, for example, may be able to relieve anxiety, stress, arthritis and a variety of other painful conditions without the “high” effects that THC produces. In 2012, Colorado and Washington were the first states to approve marijuana for recreational purposes. Today, they are joined by more than a dozen other states. With this steady upward trend of state legalization and research, it only makes sense for federal legislation to follow.

Take a look at marijuana’s part in economic growth, for example: A myriad of entrepreneurs have turned to this cash crop to provide for their families. The increased number of states taking to the recreational use trend has only expanded the market even further. While most of us are familiar with the more traditional smoking and edible methods of marijuana consumption, we are also seeing an influx of more sustainable and ability-inclusive methods. In today’s market, you can find dabs (a waxy, THC concentrate), oil concentrates and CBD marijuana-derived products. Concentrates can be vaped or smoked, and very little is needed to reach the desired effect. Furthermore, producers of medical marijuana and accompanying accessories must often stick to strict state guidelines on quality control, such as third-party lab testing. Respectable dispensaries strive for the highest-quality products from natural, untouched flowers to concentrates and edibles.

Along with new forms of marijuana and CBD concentrates, a vast market has also opened up for producers of marijuana accessories. Consumers want a wide variety of products to use with their cannabis, from inexpensive glass dab pens to high-dollar concentrate vaporizers. As with any other product industry, some leading online providers believe they need to stock the basic necessities for low-budget consumers, midrange products for daily users and premium accessories for cannabis connoisseurs to gain a successful foothold in the market.   

When the present COVID-19 pandemic is thrown into play, marijuana’s massive impact on our state economies becomes even more noticeable. Of course, with new social distancing health requirements, we have seen a spike in pickup and delivery services for industries such as grocery stores, pharmacies, retail stores and more. Marijuana shops have also jumped on the bandwagon to provide convenient, low-risk cannabis delivery in California, Denver and many other American cannabis hubs. Additionally, this experimentation with online and delivery-only dispensaries has found that such business models may actually be more cost-effective than traditional brick-and-mortar locations, even further supporting state economies. Shannon Bitzer, COO of CanEx Delivery, states that his mainly delivery-based company is still able to “work hand-in-hand with some of the best growers in the state of California in order to bring top-quality products straight to our consumers. We provide a huge online selection, modern GPS order tracking, and fast services through the use of our large delivery driver fleet.” 

The cross-state marijuana boom over the past decade has allowed for great financial opportunity, substantial relief from chronic health conditions, medically supported recreational outlets and a myriad of other socioeconomic benefits. It’s likely the future will continue to see a beneficial trend of more states approving marijuana for both medical and recreational use, as well as marijuana farms and dispensaries popping up all over the country. This positive change has been the dream of many, and we are already seeing continued research and scientific studies on the health benefits associated with marijuana use.

Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist who often focuses on health and wellness. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @dailycalopinion.