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Which States Have Legalized Weed and Which States Are Considering It?

After spending decades demonizing marijuana and those who use it, many states across America have begun loosening up their drug laws so people can use cannabis products without fear of legal consequences. However, there are still many states where lawmakers are wary of legalizing marijuana, even for medical use only. If you use cannabis products, it is important to know where you can do so safely, and people in states where marijuana is still banned can lobby their legislators in support of legalization campaigns. Here is where things stand in terms of legalization throughout the United States:

States Where Recreational Marijuana is Legal

According to information from U.S. News & World Report, recreational marijuana products are legal for adults in the following states and U.S. territories as of July 2022:

  • Colorado
  • Washington
  • Alaska
  • Oregon
  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • Maine
  • Nevada
  • Michigan
  • Illinois
  • Arizona
  • Montana
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Virginia
  • Connecticut
  • Vermont
  • New Mexico
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Guam

Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use in 2012, becoming the first state or territory in the United States to do so. Others have since followed suit, with Rhode Island being the most recent state to loosen its marijuana laws following action by the state legislature in May 2022. Vermont is set to launch its retail marijuana market later this fall, according to local news reports, after legalization efforts initially passed in 2020.

One part of the country where legalization efforts remain in flux is Washington, D.C. Even though local voters approved a legalization measure in 2017, sales of cannabis products are still not allowed because the District of Columbia’s budget is controlled by Congress, and congressional Republicans have refused to allow marijuana sales within district boundaries.

States Where Medical Medical Marijuana Is Legal

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, medical marijuana is allowed in the 19 states and territories where recreational cannabis is legal, along with the following states:

  • Utah
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Louisiana
  • Arkansas
  • Alabama
  • Florida
  • West Virginia
  • Pennsylvania
  • Maryland
  • Delaware
  • New Hampshire
  • Hawaii
  • Ohio

In many of these states, efforts are underway to legalize recreational cannabis use along with medical marijuana. According to Politico, a recreational marijuana legalization measure passed both houses of the Delaware legislature, only for Democratic Gov. John Carney to veto the bill. Politico also reports legalization referendums will be on the ballot in Maryland and South Dakota, while there could be referendums on the ballot in North Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. If you live in any of the states where legalization measures are either on the ballot or could be up for voter approval, make sure you go vote.

Which States Are Considering Marijuana Legalization or Decriminalization?

Several states either have marijuana legalization and decriminalization measures on the ballot this year, or people in these states are trying to get these measures in front of voters. Based on information from Politico, here is where things stand in terms of potential legalization and decriminalization efforts across the United States:

  • Maryland – Lawmakers in Maryland have tried to pass a comprehensive legalization law for several years without success. This time, they sent the measure to the voters instead of trying to pass the law themselves. The measure on the fall 2022 ballot would allow adults over age 21 to possess and use marijuana, as well as instruct the state legislature to come up with a regulatory system to allow marijuana to be sold in stores. Polls show the measure has wide public support, so the measure is expected to pass, with recreational sales likely coming sometime in 2024.
  • North Dakota – While medical marijuana is currently legal in North Dakota, legalization supporters are backing a ballot measure that would make recreational marijuana legal. This is the second time a recreational legalization measure is going before voters, as the state previously rejected a 2018 legalization measure by a margin of 59-41 percent.
  • South Dakota- Voters in South Dakota approved a measure allowing for both medical and recreational marijuana use in 2020, only for the state Supreme Court to say the referendum was unconstitutional and strike it down. A new measure is going before voters in 2022, and if approved, it would allow adults age 21 and older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to three plants if there are no dispensaries in their local city or county.
  • Arkansas – While medical marijuana is already legal in Arkansas, a measure on the November 2022 ballot would allow recreational sales as of March 2023. While the measure enjoys broad support, some legalization advocates have criticized it because they say it favors the state’s existing medical marijuana retailers.
  • Missouri – The fate of Missouri’s most recent attempt to legalize recreational marijuana is uncertain, as it is currently unclear if the measure meets state requirements to be allowed on the 2022 ballot. State law requires ballot measures to receive a certain number of signatures from each of Missouri’s congressional districts, and at the moment, it is unclear if there are enough signatures from two of those districts. Officials are due to make a decision on the measure’s fate by Aug. 9.
  • Oklahoma – Things are currently a bit confusing in Oklahoma, as voters may have to decide on three different legalization measures this November. One referendum would make changes to existing state law, while the other two would codify the right to use medical and recreational marijuana in the state constitution. Currently, it is not clear if supporters of the constitutional amendments can gather enough signatures by Aug. 24 to put these measures on the November ballot.
  • Nebraska – Nebraska is currently one of just three states that do not allow medical marijuana use in some form. Legalization supporters are trying to get a medical marijuana measure on the November ballot, though the campaign has hit a snag. State law requires petitions to collect signatures from 5 percent of voters in at least 38 of Nebraska’s 93 counties, but medical marijuana supporters have filed a lawsuit challenging that requirement. Currently, the measure is being debated in the courts, and it remains to be seen if it will be on the ballot this fall.

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