In the wake of multimillion-dollar political campaigns funded with out-of-state money, Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana in November 2012. Though it would take more than a year to set up retail stores, personal use (in Colorado and Washington) and home cultivation (in Colorado, which includes giving away of up to six plants) were almost immediately legalized after the vote.
Using marijuana in public, which remains illegal under these new laws, has increased conspicuously in both states. Also, a brand-new marijuana industry selling candies, cookies, waxes, sodas, and other marijuana items has exploded—and with it a powerful lobby to fight any sensible regulation.
Though it is still early—the full effects on mental health and educational outcomes, for example, will take many more years to fully develop—these “experiments” in legalization and commercialization are not succeeding by any measure.
Colorado now leads the country in past-month marijuana use by youth, with Washington not much further behind. Other states that have since legalized marijuana occupy 4th place (District of Columbia) and 5th place (Oregon). States with lax “medical marijuana” laws occupy 2nd and 3rd place (Vermont and Rhode Island, respectively).