Weed shops for recreational marijuana have been open for business in Colorado and Washington since 2014, in Oregon since 2015 and in Alaska since 2016. Recreational marijuana was legalized last year in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada. It was legalized in Washington, D.C., in 2015. But recreational dispensaries haven’t been established in those places yet, and state and local authorities are still working out rules for taxation and zoning. If you want to grow your own, check local laws first, because they vary from state to state. Vermont almost became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana through legislative means, but the governor vetoed the bill on May 24.
According to the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization group, medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam. West Virginia became the 29th in April, the day before 4/20, when the governor signed medical marijuana into law. In 18 other states, medical marijuana laws are so restrictive that the MPP considers them “ineffective or flawed.” Even if you show up for work as sober as a judge, you can be fired for flunking a drug test in most states. This has happened to some medical patients.
The city of North Bonneville, Washington, opened the Cannabis Corner in 2015. It’s the first municipally owned pot shop. Profits go to special city projects, like upgrading the local playground.
Did you know, there is a black market for marijuana, even where it’s legal. That’s not just because old habits die hard. Illegal pot is cheaper because it’s tax-free, while legal recreational pot is taxed heavily. There’s a 28% tax in Colorado and a 37% tax In Washington. In Oregon, the tax ranges between 17% and 20%, depending on the city and county. Growers, processors, retailers and buyers all pay taxes. Medical marijuana tends to be cheaper than recreational because it is taxed at a lower rate.