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Prohibition, Hartford criminal defense attorneyCalifornia was the first state in the U.S. to legalize the use of medical marijuana. In the two decades since, another 30 states have followed suit. Another 15 states have legalized medical cannabis products with limited THC content. In addition, nine states plus Washington, D.C. have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

Recent opinion polls conducted by the Pew Research Center and Quinnipiac University show that public support for the legalization of recreational marijuana is now at an all-time high. Between 61 and 63 percent of American voters are reportedly in favor of legalizing recreational use for adults while just 33 to 37 percent are opposed. The main problem, however, is the prohibition of cannabis that still exists at the federal level, leading many to see parallels between the government’s approach to marijuana and the ban on alcohol that largely defined the 1920s.

A Look Back

By the end of the 19th century, a growing movement in the United States railed against the evils of alcohol. Led mostly by religious organizations, the effort blamed the problems of society—such as crime and poverty—on drinking and drunkenness. Anti-alcohol groups succeeded, at first, in getting local laws passed to limit the production and sale of alcoholic beverages. In 1920, the U.S. ratified the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which made it illegal to produce, transport, or sell liquor.

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