Recreational Cannabis: Comparing State Approaches

Recreational cannabis is now legal in four states and the nation’s capital, with more states likely to follow suit this year. Even the federal government is reconsidering the legal status of cannabis, but the status of the recreational market is still in a constant state of flux around the nation. Even in legalized states, lawmakers and voters are still figuring out how to oversee every facet of this new industry. With so many aspects to consider, we can at least compare cannabis laws among the small sample of states with functioning recreational markets—Colorado, Oregon, and Washington—for guidance on our path toward national legalization.

Relationship to Medical Cannabis Colorado merged its existing medical industry with its new recreational one almost seamlessly. Initially, they only allowed medical dispensaries to conduct recreational sales in 2013. Recreation-only shops were permitted to open their doors on October 1 of the same year, giving the industry the opportunity to...

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