This may turn out to have been the year in which marijuana legalization really won, according to a Vox analysis. Calling developments in 2018 a “tidal wave for legalization” and “a massive shift that’s making legal pot look more and more inevitable across the country,” Vox’s German Lopez cited five major stories: Canada legalizing marijuana; California opening the world’s biggest legal-marijuana market; Michigan as the first state in the Midwest to legalize; a shift in state legislatures’ willingness to take legalization seriously; and the federal government’s legalization of hemp.
Canada’s move is significant because it will offer a huge public experiment, with different provinces trying different approaches to legalizing cannabis, to see what works best when a wealthy nation legalizes cannabis. It is the first to do so nationwide and the second country overall, after Uruguay. It’s an even bigger deal globally because legalization is a direct violation of international drug treaties that have been in place for decades. In the U.S., nine of 10 states that have legalized marijuana have done so through a ballot initiative. As state legislatures look more closely at enacting new laws themselves, Lopez writes, “it’s another sign that legalization is winning political clout: That typically risk-averse politicians at the state level are now pursuing legalization suggests it may not be such a politically risky policy idea now. And that could mean more states will legalize in the years to come, starting, perhaps, with New York and New Jersey.”