More than a quarter of Americans live in legal recreational marijuana states now that Illinois lawmakers have made recreational cannabis legal in their state.
Michigan also became a legal recreational marijuana state by a vote of the people in late 2018. With the decisions made in those two upper Midwest states, more than 22 million Americans were added to the list of those living in a place where you can buy marijuana, take it home and smoke it – all legally.
Those are amazing numbers when you consider that the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, Colorado and Washington, did so just in 2012. Sales did not begin in either state until 2014.
By 2020, when legal sales are expected to begin in Michigan and Illinois, the total number of people living in legal recreational marijuana states will reach about 91.8 million people, based on population estimates from the federal government. That’s about 28% of the country’s population.
The Illinois Law
By signing a legalization bill into law, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker made the state the first in the union to make recreational marijuana sales legal without a vote of the people. Vermont legalized adult use marijuana in 2018 but has not yet authorized sales within the state.
The law allows state residents over the age of 21 to buy and possess 30 grams of marijuana, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate and cannabis-infused products with no more than 500 milligrams of THC.
Those who do not live in Illinois can purchase half of these amounts when visiting the state.
The law also sets aside $12 million to support minority marijuana entrepreneurs. It also helps fund marijuana job training programs at community colleges, expunges the records of those arrested for marijuana possession and uses 25% of marijuana tax and fee revenue to fund a program that will address violence in communities negatively impacted by the war on drugs.
Legal Recreational Marijuana States
The legalization trend is now impacting the lives of a significant percentage of the country. According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, as of July 2018, the population of legal recreational marijuana states is as follows.
- California – 39.5 million
- Illinois – 12.7 million
- Michigan – 9.9 million
- Washington – 7.5 million
- Massachusetts – 6.9 million
- Colorado – 5.6 million
- Oregon – 4.1 million
- Nevada – 3 million
- Maine – 1.3 million
- Alaska – 737,000
- Vermont – 626,000
A glance at population figures show that Texas and Florida will truly tip the scales, should either state legalize recreational marijuana. Texas is the second most populous state with 28.7 million people, while Florida is third with 21.2 million. In Florida, medical marijuana is currently legal. Texas has not legalized marijuana for any use.
Lawmakers in New York and New Jersey, two more high-population states, also considered legalizing recreational marijuana this year and are expected to take up the issue again in the near future.