Pot is now Legal in Eight of the United States

Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington have legalized marijuana consumption.

While the 2016 election left many citizens of the United States reeling in its aftermath, some people have much to celebrate—including cannabis lovers. Eight states allow both recreational and medical marijuana use in the United States. Altogether, more than half of the states have at least partially legalized marijuana and even more states have passed decriminalization laws. We hope those numbers continue to expand until marijuana is no longer classified as a Schedule I drug by the federal government.

Schedule I drugs are considered substances that not only have zero medical use but also have a high potential of being abused. Given that many doctors actually prescribe marijuana for medical use, it is ludicrous that the drug remains classified as a Schedule 1 substance. Its status should be changed immediately.

Complete legal use of cannabis for both recreational and medical purposes is now available to people in the states of Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Although Congress has blocked its sale, its use is also legal in the District of Columbia. Even Guam and Puerto Rico have legalized marijuana for psychoactive medical use. It is only a matter of time before the rest of the country follows suit.

Some predict that Arizona will be the next state to legalize marijuana for both recreational and medical use. While its ballot measure failed, the failure margin was so minimal that it is likely that it will pass in the near future if and when the issue is raised again.

Hawaii is also expected to follow suit, given that the state has a long history of medical marijuana dating back to 2000. Citizens of the state also generally support both the legalization and taxed regulation of the drug, which has already demonstrated huge benefits for the states that have legalized pot.

Although not quite in the running to legalize use of marijuana anytime soon, many also predict that Texas and Tennessee will soon decriminalize the drug. This is due to the fact that many cities within the states—including Memphis—have recently decriminalized it and it is expedient for the rest of the state to do so. The topic of decriminalization is on the agenda for the 2017 lawmaking year in Texas, so residents should find out soon if it will become a possibility.

Some states have seen expansions of their current laws occur as well. In California, residents may now grow up to six pot plants in addition to possessing up to an ounce of marijuana (ages 21 and up). Some states are already facing opposition regarding their new laws—with Maine as a notable example—but hopefully forward thinkers will be able to triumph and continue to enjoy the benefits of legal marijuana without too much opposition.

In many states, such as Alabama and Wisconsin, using marijuana recreationally—or sometimes at all—remains a felony. As citizens realize that their rights are quite different from those in neighboring states they will begin to fight for the right to use cannabis as they wish without legal ramifications—especially when they realize the tax benefits. In states like Kansas, Indiana, and Kentucky, where pot possession is considered to be a misdemeanor, the same realization should soon occur. As complicated as the laws are by state, it would be a boon to the country if a federal measure would simply legalize its use and sale across the board, generating enough revenue to help every state while simplifying the laws and regulations for law enforcement and saving incarceration costs in every state.