Jeremy Berke and Skye Gould
Oct. 17, 2018, 10:29 AM
Skye Gould/Business Insider
Oklahoma became the 30th state to legalize medical marijuana on Wednesday. Residents voted 56-43% in support of the ballot initiative, which is one of the most permissive medical marijuana laws in the US.
Nine states and Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana for recreational use — no doctor's letter required — for adults over the age of 21.
In January, Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through the legislature, rather than a ballot initiative, when the governor signed the bill into law.
Marijuana prohibition began 80 years ago when the federal government put a ban on the sale, cultivation, and use of the cannabis plant. It remains illegal on the federal level.
Despite the efforts of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has been on a crusade to stamp out legal marijuana since his appointment, the industry is exploding.
Read more: The CEO of the largest cannabis company in the US says giant private equity firms could be his biggest competition — here's his playbook for defending against them
Legal marijuana sales exploded to $9.7 billion in North America in 2017, according to a report from Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics. That represents a 33% increase over 2016, shattering previous expectations about how quickly the marijuana industry could grow in the face of federal prohibition.
The report also predicted the legal marijuana market will reach $24.5 billion in sales — a 28% annual compound growth rate — by 2021, as more state-legal markets come online.
Support for marijuana legalization reached new highs in 2017. A Gallup poll showed that 64% of Americans favor legalization, and a majority of Republicans back it for the first time.
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