Cannabis legalization has sped up over the last few years to where we are today: eighteen states allow the recreational use of cannabis, thirteen other states have laws in place which decriminalize its use, and a total of thirty-seven states allow the use of medical cannabis. There is some overlap between these categories of states, but all point to the fact that most Americans are becoming used to cannabis legalization.
Recent polling has consistently shown strong support for cannabis legalization in the United States as a whole. A record 68% of Americans from different major demographic groups voiced their support for legalization. Legalization appears inevitable, but how much work is there left to do?
The vast majority of states, being thirty-seven out of fifty, have recognized the lawful use of cannabis in the medical field. In this category, it’s easier to say which states do not have medical cannabis, those being: Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming, and Wisconsin.
A smaller, yet significant, number of states have enacted laws that allow the recreational use of cannabis. The eighteen states which have taken this step are Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, Illinois, Michigan, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine. What started as largely a west coast phenomenon has spread across the country to the eastern seaboard, with only the American South and Midwest falling behind.
Cannabis can and has been legalized either via legislative bill or by putting a citizen initiative or referendum on an upcoming ballot. The latter is fairly common, with four states; Arizona, New Jersey, South Dakota, and Montana passing cannabis laws in the 2020 election. An example of a state that used a legislative bill was Illinois. Illinois legalized recreational cannabis in 2019 through the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.
There are nine states which have ballot initiatives pending for the 2022 Midterm election. Here is a quick rundown:
- Missouri: Recreational cannabis
- Oklahoma: Measures on both recreational and medical cannabis
- South Dakota: Recreational cannabis
- Idaho: Medical cannabis and possible recreational cannabis vote
- North Dakota: Recreational cannabis
- Nebraska: Medical cannabis and possible recreational cannabis vote
- Florida: Amending medical cannabis laws
- Arkansas: Possible decriminalization and recreational cannabis votes
- Ohio: Recreational cannabis
These states all have multiple initiatives floating at the moment, and some are still looking to gather enough votes. Therefore, some of these are subject to change until the deadline for signatures for citizen initiatives is reached in each state.
On the other side of legalization, legislative bills, there are twenty-five states considering cannabis legalization laws. Some examples of these would be:
- Louisiana HB 125 and 430 propose legalizing cannabis for those twenty-one and older
- Maryland HB 1 which proposes a constitutional amendment by 2023 legalizing cannabis
- Minnesota HF 600 which would legalize recreational cannabis
- Nebraska LB 546 which would legalize cannabis
Some states like Nebraska have both legislative bills and citizen initiatives on the ballot, signaling a state that has a bevy of support behind legalization.
Cannabis legalization is coming to the United States, whether it’s state by state or by a nationwide law change. 2022 is an exciting year for people in the cannabis industry as a multitude of states are considering measures to legalize cannabis. Only time will tell how many of these bills and citizen initiatives will pass, but if the recent past is any measure, there should be a considerable number of states making law changes.
If you want to learn more about cannabis legalization or want help with business policies regarding cannabis, contact Navvee today for a consultation.