U.S. States Tried Decriminalizing Pot Before. Here’s Why It Didn’t Work

In the past five years, eight states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana for adults. Today, 68 million people live in areas where marijuana is treated like alcohol or tobacco. The drug is sold in stores, millions of tax dollars are being raised from its sale, and an increasing number of businesspeople are profiting in this lucrative new industry. Long seen as either a hippie accessory or a dangerous gateway drug, legal marijuana is booming. Pot is so popular that, in 2015, its sales surpassed Girl Scout cookies, Oreos, and Dasani bottled water. By 2026, analysts predict it will match, and eventually outpace, America’s $50 billion wedding industry.

How did this happen? How did marijuana transform from a primary target of Just Say No into something that, according to a recent Gallup poll, 60% of Americans want legalized? The answer lies in five decades’ worth of grassroots activism, in which legions of the drug’s supporters pushed to move marijuana from decriminalization to criminalization to legalization.

But, while legalization proponents may declare victory in the war over marijuana today, history shows that the debate is far from settled.

– Read the entire article at TIME.