Marijuana legalization: Defensive walls of countries are coming down!

Why is marijuana against the law? It grows naturally upon our planet. Doesn’t the idea of making nature against the law seem to you a bit . . . unnatural?

– Bill Hicks (American stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist, and musician)

Before diving deeper into the legalization status of Marijuana, why should you or anyone care?

Because this is not a small industry that we are talking about. The cannabis industry is on its way to reaching more than $140 billion by 2025 and companies from different domains (Alcohol, Pharmaceutical, Packaging, Cosmetics, etc) are already preparing for the new wave of growth opportunities that it is bringing.

To help you understand what major companies are already doing to adapt to that change, what kind of products they are working on, what kind of startups are emerging, etc.. we have a webinar lined up that you would definitely find useful. Here’s everything that we are going to share.

With the growing popularity of marijuana across the globe, people tend to be a bit more socially acceptable of taboos associated with it. One such taboo is the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. We are witnessing the legal map of marijuana changing at a fast pace which in itself is proof of growing acceptance of marijuana among the people of various geographies. This impact could evidently be seen across different states in the US as 44 states have got laws related to medical marijuana and 9 states related to its recreational use.

Gallup Poll also suggests some strong figures in this context. In their report published on Oct. 25, 2017, they have claimed that –

As efforts to legalize marijuana at the state level continue to yield successes, public opinion, too, has shifted toward greater support.

This statement has been supported by stats based on public opinion i.e. In 1969, only 12% of people supported the legalization of marijuana. By 2001, one-third of the US population supported marijuana legalization. However, by 2017 this figure rose to as high as 64%. Here’s a glimpse of how these stats varied over the years.


Moreover, in their recent report on moral acceptance of marijuana and alcohol in American society, they are suggesting some very interesting stats. Let’s take a sneak peek into it.

Even after being illegal at the federal level and referred to be a Schedule-I drug, the moral acceptance of smoking marijuana is as high as 65% which trails drinking alcohol only with a slight margin. According to this report –

“Smoking marijuana trails birth control, drinking alcohol and divorce, but is on par with widely accepted acts including gambling, sex between an unmarried man and woman, gay or lesbian relations, stem cell research, and having a baby outside of marriage”

These stats clearly symbolize that the majority of Americans favor smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol at least on moral grounds. It could be well anticipated that the federal status of marijuana might be the reason behind the lesser acceptance of smoking marijuana in comparison with drinking alcohol. However, the tide of marijuana is well in favor of legalization. This might be the reason that Trump administration is also showing some positive signs towards relaxing marijuana norms especially in the states where it’s legal.

US President Donald Trump said that he “probably will end up supporting” the recent bill barring the federal government’s interference with marijuana legalization laws at the state level.

Therefore it becomes very important to understand the current legal structure of marijuana in the US at least, for the companies who are trying to leverage this opportunity to gain early movers advantage. In addition, we also take a sneak peek and try and answer the following questions.

  • Which states/cities in the US have decriminalized or legalized marijuana for recreational & medical purposes
  • What is the market size of these states or
  • Which of these states could be the potential hub for expansion?

Marijuana Legalization in the US

Medical marijuana is legal (with a doctor’s recommendation) in 31 states and the District of Columbia. There are fifteen other states which have laws related to medical marijuana but with a limit on its THC content. The objective was to make cannabidiol (CBD – a non-psychoactive component of cannabis) rich products more prevalent.

List of states that legalized Marijuana

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Guam
  •  Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Mariana Islands
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • US Virgin Islands
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

us states that have legalized marijuanaThis is just a list of states where medical marijuana is legal, but what’s the market size of these states, or which of these states could be the potential hub for expansion? Here’s how much money are the states with laws for medical marijuana are raking in from marijuana sales (in millions).

Michigan and Arizona stand tallest when talking of states where marijuana is legal for medical purposes, but what about the states where it is allowed even for recreational purposes?

Here’s the list:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Washington D.C.
  • District of Columbia

Now, let’s see what’s the market size of these states on the basis of their sales figures.

The Market Size of the US States based on Sales

The noteworthy fact here is that the sales figures of these states where recreational marijuana is legal are way more than those where just medical marijuana is legal. Also, the market size of California is $2750 which is almost double that of Colorado ($1560) which stands second on the list. It could be said that the state famous for bringing the ‘Gold Rush’ could well force the ‘Green Rush’.

Circling back to the topic, let’s see how the map of the USA looks when we talk about cannabis legalization.


Till this moment we were only talking about the US. Let’s also have a look at other major geographies across the world that are/could be the potential markets for the marijuana industry.

Marijuana Legalization Around the World

Talking of potential markets how can we forget Europe? European countries don’t seem to be very much in favor of marijuana legalization.

Although, most European Union (EU) countries consider cannabis possession for personal use as illegal but, “over one-third do not allow prison as a penalty for minor offenses”. According to a survey conducted by Flash Eurobarometer in 2011 and 2014, young people were asked for their opinions on drugs. Approximately 500 young people aged between 15 to 24 in each country were asked for their opinion in this survey. The results were unexpected as more than half (~59%) of the participants favored banning the sale of cannabis, rather than regulating it.

Source – European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug addiction

However, this number of 59% has gradually declined to 53 % over the period. This might be the reason that one of the largest Canadian cannabis companies, Canopy Growth, is trying to gain an early mover advantage in Germany by the acquisition of a licensed distributor, MedCann GmbH.

“Germany has begun a process of enabling medical access to cannabis and through a policy that recognized Canopy as the first legal supply source from North America”

-Bruce Linton, Chairman and CEO of Canopy Growth Corporation.

Therefore, it becomes important to have a look at the countries in Europe that are most likely to legalize cannabis.

List of countries in Europe with Legalize Cannabis

  • Czech Republic
  • Peru
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • France
  • Iceland
  • Spain

This list of countries has been shortlisted based on lax laws and the acceptance of cannabis in society. Also, some of these countries have already decriminalized cannabis, and consuming the drug at designated cafes is allowed in some others. However, there aren’t any set of laws or regulations related to its possession and consumption.

Therefore, considering all these factors and the current legal status of cannabis in these countries it could well be speculated that these countries may drop the formalities and simply embrace the opportunity to gain the most out of it.

Now, this opportunity is not just limited to the US and Europe. There are many other countries across the globe that have the potential to yield great revenues and are on the track too if haven’t already legalized cannabis in their territory. Let’s have a look at the world map to understand the legal structure of cannabis across different geographies all over the world. Here’s how the map looks like:

Source: Matador Network

Though the legal structure of marijuana is changing at a rapid pace, here’s a list of countries where it’s legal for medical as well as recreational use. Also, there are certain restrictions associated with the use of cannabis in some countries, these restrictions, however, are mostly related to amount & public use.

Are you someone who is looking for in-depth research into the industry? Do you wish to know what other companies are doing and where is the Marijuana Industry headed? Then,

Get in touch

Authored By: Gaurav Sharma, Associate, Solutions

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