In some strains of the cannabis plant – also known as marijuana or weed – is a psychoactive compound known as THC that produces a “high” when it is consumed.
Several Democrats and some Republicans now support the legalization of pot. Legislators in many states are debating legalizing marijuana, and Congress has introduced several bills related to marijuana, including those to decriminalize it at the federal level.
Some argue that marijuana poses a risk to public health and safety, and others oppose legalization on moral grounds. But supporters say it’s not as dangerous as alcohol, and there’s evidence that it has therapeutic benefits, like stress and pain relief.
In addition to being a moneymaker for states, advocates see it as a necessary social justice initiative as well. People from minority communities have been disproportionately affected by marijuana laws, contributing to mass incarceration. Some legal marijuana states have retroactively addressed the consequences of its prohibition, often by expunging or vacationing low-level marijuana convictions.
States where recreational marijuana is legal:
- New York
- New Mexico
- New Jersey
- Washington, D.C.
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