Marijuana Legalization in America: A Pew Research Center Analysis

While marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, a Pew Research Center analysis indicates that 54% of Americans reside in states where recreational use of marijuana is permitted.

The study reveals that 74% of the U.S. population lives in states where marijuana is legal for either medical or recreational purposes, and 79% reside in counties with at least one marijuana dispensary. The analysis identifies nearly 15,000 cannabis dispensaries across the country.

California leads with the highest number of dispensaries at 3,659, more than twice the count in the next closest state. A significant concentration of dispensaries is observed in Los Angeles County, which boasts 1,481 dispensaries, surpassing most states except California itself.

Oklahoma claims the record for the highest number of medical marijuana dispensaries per capita, with 36 shops for every 100,000 residents.

The study also notes that 25% of dispensaries are located within 20 miles of a state border, with 29% of these border dispensaries situated next to states with more restrictive cannabis laws. For example, Indiana, Kansas, and Texas, with stringent marijuana regulations, are surrounded by multiple states where the drug is legalized, resulting in over 100 dispensaries within 20 miles of their borders.

Contrary to early concerns about dispensaries concentrating in low-income neighborhoods, the Pew analysis reveals a nuanced situation. In Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, and Virginia, where marijuana is legalized for both medical and recreational purposes, areas with high concentrations of dispensaries have median incomes at least $20,000 lower than areas with low dispensary concentrations. Conversely, in New York and New Hampshire, areas with many dispensaries exhibit median household incomes around $20,000 or more higher than areas with few dispensaries.

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