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For over a decade, I have been producing maps of the United States to demonstrate the spread of marijuana law reform.
At first, these maps were fairly simple. Your state was either a medical marijuana state or it was not. A green state or a gray state.
But as medical marijuana spread eastward beyond the Rockies in 2008, it began to become more restrictive. Before long, it was intellectually dishonest to consider both California and New York as similar “medical marijuana states,” when the former allowed virtually anyone to buy and cultivate cannabis and smoke marijuana for any condition and the latter highly restricted use of non-plant cannabinoids only available in dispensaries and expressly forbade smoking.
In order to demonstrate this “political box canyon,” as my former NORML boss Allen St. Pierre put it, I started shading the green states based on their relative liberty with medical marijuana. Dark green states were ones that allowed patients to grow their own medicine, while light green states were those that only provided medical marijuana through dispensaries.
Then, Colorado and Washington broke through in 2012 with legalized marijuana for all adults. Maps began appearing that made the distinction between the two legal states (in blue) and the medical marijuana states (in green).
Again, this struck me as intellectually dishonest to consider both Colorado and Washington as similar “legal states,” when non-medical home cultivators of cannabis in the latter were still considered criminals. I started shading Washington with a lighter blue to distinguish it from the states that allow home grow.
Lately, led by (of all states) Utah in 2014, there has been a wave of mostly Southern and Midwestern states that have embraced the use of a cannabis extract containing non-psychoactive cannabidiol – CBD oil – so long as it has scant THC within it. I decided that those states would be shades of pink, in honor of little Charlotte Figi, the Colorado girl whose story on CNN helped spark the CBD movement.
Now my latest Marijuana States of America™ Map provides four major categories of states – Legal, Medical, CBD-Oil, and Illegal – and breaks them down by retail access and home cultivation rights. I’ve also indicated a non-legal state’s first-time marijuana possession decriminalization provisions with orange (no arrest, but a criminal record) or cyan (no arrest, just a ticket) lettering. I’ve indicated the states with the power of citizen initiatives with yellow highlighting.
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