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Marijuana Statistics: What The Topic Looks Like in 2019

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Updated 10/16/19

Marijuana may be illegal, decriminalized or legal depending on the amount, how it's used, and where it's being used. It is one of the substances states can have varying rules about – along with tobacco and alcohol – even though overarching federal laws are also in place. Marijuana drug use involves a range of legal topics, including criminal law, business and tax law, state and federal law, medical regulations, professional licenses and more.

This article covers interesting facts about United States statistics about cannabis and marijuana users. To stay on the legal side of marijuana use, always check with your state’s laws and regulations regarding the sale and use of cannabis.

Criminal Law and Marijuana

States continue to debate the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana, along with the decriminalization of marijuana. The following is gathered from state laws and a 2019 Pew Research study on marijuana facts.

  • As of 2019, eleven states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana for people over 21 years old.
  • To date, 32 states, Washington D.C., and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.
  • Marijuana has been fully or partially decriminalized in 25 states and the District of Columbia to varying degrees.
  • The top reasons some Americans support decriminalization and legalization of marijuana are for the medical benefits (86%) and to allow law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes (70%).
  • The primary reasons some Americans do not support decriminalization and legalization of marijuana are fear of an increase in car crashes (79%) and fear of it being a gateway drug for people using stronger or more addictive drugs (69%).
  • In 2017, there were 659,700 arrests for marijuana and 599,282 were for possession only.
  • 62% of Americans report they support legal marijuana for adults.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Federal Initiatives on Marijuana Use and Crimes

Does cannabis legalization in Washington D.C. mean the federal government is on board? Not necessarily. According to federal law:

  • Marijuana is still illegal, but right now the government defers to each state to individually handle the penalties or fines for marijuana use. Absent legislation, however, that could change at any time at the discretion of the Department of Justice.
  • Marijuana is a “Schedule I” drug, which means it has no approved medical use and is prone to abuse.

One federal initiative does exist, called the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act), which would decriminalize marijuana and remove it as a Schedule I drug.

Currently, the Controlled Substance Act makes marijuana a Schedule I drug and the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevent and Control Act of 1970 reduces federal penalties for marijuana and decriminalization in the states. There is also a movement for the DEA to approve marijuana research facilities.

General Marijuana Use Statistics

Much debate surrounds the decriminalization of marijuana and the various methods employed by each state to protect minors from marijuana abuse. Some statistics around this issue are below.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) conducts annuals surveys on drug use and can offer updated statistics on the use of marijuana.

Marijuana Sales and Economic Impact Statistics

The sale of marijuana or cannabis products continues to grow year over year. These statistics from Marijuana Business Daily help show the large impact the marijuana industry already has and where the economic trends might be heading:

  • $3.8 billion in medical marijuana sales in 2018
  • $6.2 billion in recreational marijuana sales in 2018
  • It is estimated there will be a 35% rise in marijuana sales by the end of 2019
  • Black market marijuana sales are estimated at $46.4 billion
  • The tax revenue from marijuana sales in 2018 ranges from the lowest in Maryland at $5.2 million to the highest in Washington at $319 million

Additional Resources

State Laws

Looking for Marijuana-Related Legal Help?

Marijuana legalization and the regulations surrounding it will continue to change and adapt. Knowing your state’s specific laws and how to stay within the law can help keep law enforcement out of the way of your medical or recreational marijuana use. When you need help, an attorney with a focus on marijuana-related crimes can be essential in protecting your right to use marijuana or reducing cannabis-related charges.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified criminal lawyer to make sure your rights are protected.

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