Dramatic shifts in public opinion about marijuana legalization are forcing both lawmakers and the public to deal with clashing federal and state policies.
In just weeks, three dispensaries will open in the Washington D.C. area.
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes since California voters made the first move in 1996.
Voters in Colorado and Washington state took the next step last year and approved pot for recreational use. Alaska is likely to vote on the same question in 2014, and a few other states are expected to put recreational use on the ballot in 2016.
Nearly half of adults have tried marijuana, 12 percent of them in the past year, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. More teenagers now say they smoke marijuana than ordinary cigarettes.
Fifty-two percent of adults favor legalizing marijuana, up 11 percentage points just since 2010, according to Pew. Sixty percent think Washington shouldn’t enforce federal laws against marijuana in states that have approved its use. Seventy-two percent think government efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they’re worth.