If you support the legalization of marijuana, 2016 didn’t give you much to complain about. Last year, residents in four states approved recreational-marijuana ballot initiatives, doubling the total from the end of 2015, while five new states put medical-cannabis laws on their books. By year’s end, 28 states and Washington, D.C., had legalized medical pot.
And there’s more where that came from. We saw two battleground states — Pennsylvania and Ohio — introduce and pass medical-marijuana legislation without sending it to a public vote. We also saw a continued softening in the public’s opinion toward marijuana, which remains an illegal drug at the federal level. Gallup’s 2016 poll found that 60% of Americans now want to see the substance legalized nationwide, up from just 25% when California passed the first compassionate-use law in 1996. Legal weed sales have also soared. Cannabis research firm ArcView sees sales reaching nearly $22 billion by the end of the decade, while investment firm Cowen & Co. projects a better-than-23% annualized growth rate leading to $50 billion in legal sales by 2026.