Timeline: Cannabis Legislation in the U.S.
At the federal level, cannabis is still considered an illegal substance. That said, individual states do have the right to determine their own laws around cannabis sales and usage.
This visual from New Frontier Data looks at the status of cannabis in every state and the timeline of when medical and/or recreational use became legal.
Cannabis Through the Years
In the U.S., the oldest legalese concerning cannabis dates back to the 1600s—the colony of Virginia required every farm to grow and produce hemp. Since then, cannabis use was fairly wide open until the 1930s when the Marihuana Tax Act was enforced, prohibiting marijuana federally but still technically allowing medical use.
Jumping ahead, the Controlled Substances Act was passed in 1970, classifying cannabis as Schedule I drug—the same category as heroin. This prohibited any use of the substance.
However, the 1970s also saw a counter movement, wherein many states made the move towards decriminalization. Decriminalization means that although possessing cannabis remained illegal, a person would not be subject to jail time or prosecution for possessing certain amounts.
By the 1990s, some of the first states passed laws to allow the medical usage of cannabis, and by 2012 two states in the U.S.—Washington and Colorado—legalized the recreational use of cannabis.
Cannabis Legislation Today and Beyond
The MORE Act (the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act) was passed in the House early 2022, and if made law, it would decriminalize marijuana federally.
“This bill decriminalizes marijuana. Specifically, it removes marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and eliminates criminal penalties for an individual who manufactures, distributes, or possesses marijuana.”– U.S. Congress
Cannabis still remains illegal at the federal level, but at the state levels, cannabis is now fully legal (both for medicinal and recreational purposes) in a total of 22 states.
Over 246 million Americans have legal access to some form of marijuana products with high THC levels. Looking to the future, many new cannabis markets are expected to open up in the next few years:
The earliest states expected to open up next for recreational cannabis sales are Minnesota and Oklahoma. There is always a lag between legalization and actual sales, wherein local regulatory bodies and governments set standards. States like Kentucky, on the other hand, aren’t likely to even legalize medicinal cannabis until 2028.
It’s estimated that by 2030, there will be 69 million cannabis consumers in the country, up 33% from 2022.
Overall, the U.S. cannabis market is likely an important one to watch as legal sales hit $30 billion in 2022. By the end of the decade, that number is expected to be anywhere from $58 billion to as much as $72 billion.
Animated Chart: G7 vs. BRICS by GDP (PPP)
How fast have the economies of BRICS countries grown? This video highlights the rapid rise of BRICS compared to the G7.
Animated Chart: G7 vs. BRICS by GDP (PPP)
Fifty years ago, the government finance heads from the UK, West Germany, France, and the U.S. met informally in the White House’s ground-floor library to discuss the international monetary situation at the time. This is the origin story of the G7.
This initial group quickly expanded, adding Japan, Italy, and Canada, to solidify a bloc of the biggest non-communist economies at the time. As industrialized countries that were reaping the benefits of the post-war productivity boom, they were economic juggernauts, with G7 economic output historically contributing around 40% of global GDP.
However, the more recent emergence of another international group, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), has been carving out its own section of the global economic order.
This animation from James Eagle uses data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and charts the percentage contribution of the G7 and BRICS members to the world economy. Specifically it uses GDP adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP) using international dollars.
Charting the Rise of BRICS vs. G7
The acronym “BRIC”, developed by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill in 2001, was used to identify four fast-growing economies in similar stages of development. It wasn’t until 2009 that their leaders met and formalized their relationship, later inviting South Africa to join in 2010.
While initially banded together for investment opportunities, in the last decade, BRICS has become an economic rival to G7. Several of their initiatives include building an alternate global bank, with dialogue underway for a payment system and new reserve currency.
Below is a quick look at both groups’ contribution to the world economy in PPP-adjusted terms.
|Global GDP Share||1992||2002||2012||2022|
A major contributing factor to BRICS’ rise is Chinese and Indian economic growth.
After a period of rapid industrialization in the 1980s and 1990s, China’s exports got a significant boost after it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. This helped China become the world’s second largest economy by 2010.
India’s economic rise has not been quite as swift as China’s, but by 2022, the country ranked third with a gross domestic product (PPP) of $12 trillion. Together the two countries make up nearly one-fourth of the PPP-adjusted $164 trillion world economy.
The consequence of using the PPP metric—which better reflects the strengths of local currencies and local prices—is that it has an outsized multiplier effect on the GDPs of developing countries, where the prices of domestic goods and services tend to be cheaper.
Below, we can see both the nominal and PPP-adjusted GDP of each G7 and BRICS country in 2023. Nominal GDP is measured in USD with market-rate currency conversion, while the adjusted GDP uses international dollars (using the U.S. as a base country for calculations) which better account for cost of living and inflation.
|Country/Group||Membership||Nominal GDP (2023)||PPP GDP (2023)|
|🇿🇦 South Africa||BRICS||$0.4T||$1.0T|
By the IMF’s projections, BRICS countries will constitute more of the world economy in 2023 ($56 trillion) than the G7 ($52 trillion) using PPP-adjusted GDPs.
How Will BRICS and G7 Compare in the Future?
China and India are in a stage of economic development marked by increasing productivity, wages and consumption, which most countries in the G7 had previously enjoyed in the three decades after World War II.
By 2028, the IMF projects BRICS countries to make up one-third of the global economy (PPP):
|Country by GDP (PPP)||Membership||% World Economy (2028p)|
|🇿🇦 South Africa||BRICS||0.5%|
BRICS vs. the World?
The economic rise of BRICS carries geopolitical implications as well.
Alongside different political ideals, BRICS’ increasing power gives its member countries financial muscle to back them up. This was put into sharp perspective after the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, when both China and India abstained from condemning the war at the United Nations and continued to buy Russian oil.
While this is likely concerning for G7 countries, the group of developed countries still wields unparalleled influence on the global stage. Nominally the G7 still commands a larger share of the global economy ($46 trillion) than BRICS ($27.7 trillion). And from the coordination of sanctions on Russia to sending military aid to Ukraine, the G7 still wields significant influence financially and politically.
In the next few decades, especially as China and India are earmarked to lead global growth while simultaneously grappling with their own internal demographic issues, the world order is only set to become more complex and nuanced as these international blocs vie for power.
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