Local Marijuana Legalization in U.S., Mexico May Impact Hemisphere-Wide Policy

Sporadic liberalization may have an effect on peoples’ attitudes toward drug laws. Through decriminalization, legalization and potentially legal advertising, marijuana may lose the social and criminal stigma currently associated with it. In the U.S., national and statewide polls conducted since the legalization votes in Washington state and Colorado show greater public acceptance of marijuana legalization already, and Oregon and Alaska are expected by many to legalize the substance this year. Additionally, many states may be tempted to adopt more-liberal policies toward marijuana as a result of the predicted $134 million in marijuana sales taxes that Colorado expects to collect in the coming fiscal year.

But despite the current momentum on the local level, most states and countries retain a wait-and-see attitude toward the still-contentious issue of marijuana legalization. Drug legalization remains experimental and may include unknown and unintended consequences. As a result, the future of marijuana legalization will largely depend on the implementation and enforcement successes and failures of those local governments at the forefront of decriminalization and legalization initiatives.