Cannabis legalization broadly refers to ending the prohibition laws against personal possession, private production, and sales of marijuana and marijuana-derived products at the national, state or local levels. Medical legalization aims specifically to provide regulated safe access and distribution channels for verified patients requiring cannabis and cannabis-derived medicines based on doctor recommendations. Meanwhile, adult-use legalization initiatives attempt to entirely remove all criminal and civil penalties surrounding personal cannabis possession, smoking, vaping, eating, growing and sharing among consenting adult over a certain age, similar to alcohol laws.
The process of legalizing cannabis involves removing associated criminal penalties that can negatively impact people's lives but also transitions management of the industry to increased government oversight and regulations concerning who can produce, distribute and purchase cannabis, and under what type of rules. While legalization expands access significantly, true open legal use still largely depends on abiding by the laws within each applicable jurisdiction. Overall, the benefits and consequences of cannabis legalization are hotly contested and inherently complex. However, most thoughtful legalization advocates view appropriately regulated legal frameworks as clear societal progress over models of blanket prohibition. Sensible regulations strive to strike a pragmatic balance between advancing personal freedoms, public health, and community safety.