Marijuana Legalization and Regulation

There is more public support for marijuana law reform than ever before with new polls showing more than half the country is in favor of legalizing marijuana. The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) believes marijuana should be removed from the criminal justice system and regulated like alcohol and tobacco.

Current Marijuana Laws in the U.S.

See where medical marijuana is legal.

2016 Initiative Results

Election Day was a watershed moment for the movement to end marijuana prohibition — no other reform was approved by so many citizens on so many ballots this year. Legalization initiatives prevailed in four out of five states, and medical marijuana initiatives prevailed in all four states.

But the prospect of Donald Trump as our next president is profoundly troubling. While Trump has repeatedly pledged to respect state marijuana laws, his rhetoric on broader criminal justice issues has been largely unfriendly. 

Read more about the impact of the 2016 election on our blog.

Why Should We Legalize?

Reduce harm
The criminalization of marijuana use disproportionately harms young people and people of color, sponsors massive levels of violence and corruption, and fails to curb youth access.

Create jobs
Legalizing and regulating marijuana will bring one of the nation's largest cash crops under the rule of law. This will create jobs and economic opportunities in the formal economy instead of the illicit market.

Save money
Scarce law enforcement resources will be better used to ensure public safety while reducing corrections and court costs. State and local governments would acquire significant new sources of tax revenue from regulating marijuana sales.

Promote consumer safety
Marijuana product testing is becoming a standard requirement for legalized marijuana markets. This means consumers are better informed about the marijuana they use.


Cannabis flowers with quality testing results on display at a dispensary.

DPA product safety recommendations

  • Consumers should consider requesting information on any pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers, or any other residual solvents that could remain on flowers after the cultivation process.
  • Consumers should be sure to inquire about the potency and dosage of an edible product, especially if they are a novice consumer or if the package is not clearly labeled.
  • Testing for mold, fungus, bacteria, and other microbial organisms should be required to ensure safety and quality. The effects of consuming some of these chemicals, especially in the immunocompromised, could be significant.
  • Flowers and other cannabis products sold to consumers should include cannabinoid profiles on labels, including the content of THC, CBD and other major cannabinoids, and the number and concentration of doses. This is especially important for edible products, which can contain widely varying doses of cannabis.

Featured Resources

Marijuana Facts
Why is Marijuana Decriminalization Not Enough?
What Will Recreational Marijuana in California Look Like?
Just a Slap on the Wrist? The Life-Changing Consequences of a Marijuana Arrest
Marijuana-Infused Products (”Edibles”)
Marijuana Legalization in Colorado: One-Year Status Report
Marijuana Legalization in Washington After 1 Year of Retail Sales and 2.5 Years of Legal Possession

Share: