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Another US state legalizes weed, and everyone forgets that weed is still mostly illegal in the US

AP Photo/Mark Thiessen
Now a legal way to keep warm in Alaska.
By Sonali Kohli
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

As of today, marijuana is officially fair game for recreational use in Alaska, joining two other US states. In a majority of US states the substance is now either legal for anyone’s use, legal for medicinal use, or illegal with very little punishment.

Pew Research Center

Many of these states have still only gone so far as legalizing the drug for medical use, but that hasn’t held up the sea change in American public opinion about marijuana overall.

Support for marijuana legalization stretched into the majority for the first time in 2013, according to Gallup.

Even Americans who are bothered by public marijuana use don’t care if people use it privately, according to 2014 Pew data.

US media outlets have fully embraced the turn of opinion. For example, in a recent New York Times story (paywall) lauding the benefits of the slow cooker, national editor Sam Sifton writes:

Cooking Ms. Tosi’s cake is a four-to-six-hour affair, making it a fine afternoon project for an early dinner with children or friends, or as something to set up for a late-night dessert for the sort of people who end their evenings in a cannabis haze. Cake in a slow cooker. America the beautiful!

Several news outlets have latched onto the casual drug culture portrayed in the highly acclaimed web series High Maintenance. The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum moved right past the subject matter of the show—the life of a small-scale pot dealer—to focus her analysis instead on its ”meditative, dreamy invasions into the lives of creative-class New Yorkers, with smart dialogue, seams of compassion, and an O. Henry air of surprise.”

The shift in public opinion comes with new research finding that marijuana is by far the least deadly of an array of drugs, including alcohol and cocaine, the Washington Post notes. As Science Alert points out, a study that’s a decade old (pdf) found similar results.

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