Cannabis reform in the US has been steadily gaining momentum for the past few years especially after getting a boost from the 2018 Farm Bill. It took a major step forward in 2020 when four states; Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota legalized cannabis in some form. Now there are 37 states and 4 territories where at least medical marijuana is legal and as many as 16 of these allow recreational use.
The industry also has a positive outlook for the coming years under the Biden administration. Democrats have traditionally held a more accommodating stance towards marijuana and even though the track record of the current president and vice president may say otherwise, both verbally pledged during their campaigns to decriminalize marijuana and expunge previous minor convictions. In fact, VP Kamala Harris sponsored a marijuana decriminalization act last 2019, perhaps in a bid to dilute her past record as a prosecutor who came down hard on weed convictions.
With things looking up for weed in the US, what can Americans, especially those desperately in need of cannabis medication, expect this year in terms of changes? Is there any chance for federal legalization this year? Will you finally be able to grow your own legally in your state? Here’s a glimpse of current marijuana legalization efforts in and around the nation.
- Federal law
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
- Frequently Asked Questions
Key leaders in the US Senate this February met with stakeholders in the marijuana industry to get feedback for a Senate bill that will seek to legalize marijuana at a federal level.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden and Sen. Cory Booker talked with representatives from various marijuana advocacy groups including NORML, Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Students for Sensible Drug Policy and other organizations affiliated with the Marijuana Justice Coalition as well as those from the National Cannabis Industry Association and Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) to discuss topics including the regulatory structure for marijuana to tax policy to social equity.
The Democratic senators said that the bill, which is likely to be unveiled early this year, will at the very least deschedule weed and regulate it with a justice and equity-focused approach. In a joint announcement, they also decried the failures of marijuana criminalization and called for a federal policy change that prioritizes repairing the harms of prohibition.
Earlier this month, a bipartisan coalition of senators reintroduced the Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act which already passed the Senate last year.
Some of the highlights of the bill include giving researchers who need greater quantities of marijuana an expedited pathway and allowing various institutions, schools, practitioners, and manufacturers to grow their own. The DEA will also get a mandate to approve applications to be manufacturers of marijuana-derived, FDA-approved drugs while the HHS will be tasked to study the health benefits and risks of marijuana as well as policies preventing its research in states where it is legally grown.
Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein, Brian Schatz and Republican senator Chuck Grassley are the lead sponsors of the bill.
Kansas Democratic governor Laura Kelly recently said that she plans to enlist the help of her constituents to pressure the state’s lawmakers to pass a medical marijuana legalization bill.
Although there were other legalization bills that were introduced in the last session, none were able to move forward.
The governor’s call was made in support of a plan to enact reform and use of marijuana tax revenue to fund the state’s Medicaid expansion.
Earlier this month, a medical marijuana legalization proposal submitted by a Republican senator was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Compassion Act, or SB 46 which was introduced by Sen. Tim Melson of Florence passed by a vote of 8-3 and is now headed for the Senate floor.
The bill will allow patients with one of about 20 qualifying conditions to buy and consume certain forms of marijuana. Some of the conditions include anxiety, sleep disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and intractable pain. Those with chronic pain may also be prescribed medical cannabis if it can be shown that conventional therapy has been ineffective.
Patients will be allowed to use marijuana products such as capsules, lozenges, oils, suppositories, and topical patches but not smoke, vape, or consume edibles like candies or baked goods.
This month, Thornton Democrat Rep. Yadira Caraveo revealed that she will be introducing a bill that contains a provision that would effectively ban marijuana flowers and edibles with THC levels above 15%. responsible for the marijuana high.
Rep. Caraveo’s proposal sits in line with a recent report from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment raised concerns about high-THC cannabis. The report says that marijuana products that have THC levels of around 12-18% may cause psychotic disorders in adulthood, regardless of childhood cannabis abuse status.
Delaware is poised to legalize recreational cannabis this year after its neighbor, New Jersey, did so in 2020. Rep. Ed Osienski, who was the primary sponsor of HB 110 which failed last year, recently confirmed that he will be reintroducing a similar legalization bill this season.
HB 110 would have legalized recreational marijuana for those aged 21 and older. It would have created a regulated marijuana marketplace and industry that would generate much-needed tax dollars for the state which State Auditor Kathy McGuiness estimates could generate around $43 million or more annually. However, it will not give Delawareans the right to grow their own.
Florida lawmakers Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Sen. Jeff Brandes introduced earlier this year HB 343 and SB 710 which would legalize recreational marijuana for those aged 21 and older. The bills also seek to establish a free-market regulatory approach to the governance of both medical and adult-use cannabis. Senator Gary M. Farmer also Jr. introduced a similar legalization bill, SB 664, last January. Unfortunately, none of the bills include a provision for home cultivation.
Hawaii lawmakers are poised to introduce multiple recreational marijuana bills this year.
HB 7 seeks to legalize possession and sale of cannabis for those aged 21 and up as well as create a marijuana business licensing system and levy an excise tax on recreational sales. Meanwhile, HB 238 is a similar measure that also seeks the allocation of an unspecified percentage of excise tax revenues for Hawaii counties.
Similarly, SB 704 is a legalization bill that will establish a marketplace with licensed businesses that will be subject to excise taxes.
As of now, there are also three decriminalization bills already pending in the Senate. SB 47 would decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce or up to an eighth of concentrate. It will also drop the penalty for giving up to an ounce or 5 grams of cannabis concentrate.
SB 705 meanwhile seeks to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule V under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. It will also set a higher limit on the amount that qualifies as a violation of promoting a detrimental drug in the third degree from 3 grams to 10.
Lastly, SB 758 will increase the possession limit from an ounce to three.
Indiana State Representative Vanessa Summers introduced last month a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana in the state and create an agency responsible for regulating various parties such as growers, processors, dispensaries and cannabis researchers.
HB 1154 shares several similarities to Illinois’ Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act which as of January 1, 2020, the state to Indiana’s western border has allowed people age 21 and older to purchase regulated quantities of cannabis products for personal use. Illinois legalized medicinal use of marijuana in 2013 through the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act.
A longtime supporter of marijuana legalization, Sen. Karen Tallian also introduced two bills in the first month of this year. S.B. 87 seeks to create a Cannabis Compliance Commission that will be tasked with regulating cannabis and hemp in the state, while S.B. 223 seeks to decriminalize possession of up to 2 ounces.
A 20-year old Kansas lawmaker Rep. Aaron Coleman recently filed a bill that would broadly decriminalize possession of controlled substances including marijuana in the state. Coleman’s bill, HB 2288, will make possession for personal use a mere civil offense punishable by a $100 fine.
The bill would also bring down penalties for manufacturing or distributing such substances, reducing sentencing requirements for those convicted of such offenses.
Kentucky lawmakers from both sides seem determined to make medical marijuana legal in their state this year.
Despite the demise of House Bill 136 last year which dies in the Senate, the bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Jason Nemes, has filed another medical marijuana bill earlier this month. The bill will now include qualifying conditions that patients must meet and instead leave the decision to the physician. It will also allow patients to buy up to a 30-day supply of cannabis but not allow home cultivation.
Democrats likewise filed their own medical marijuana bills for this year. Sponsored by Reps. Attica Scott, Lisa Willner and Nima Kulkarni, HB 461 while Rep. Rachel Roberts, of Campbell County, recently filed HB 467. Roberts said that her bill will seek to bring in new tax revenues, expunge criminal records for those that have been convicted of weed-related misdemeanors, and give those who suffer from chronic medical conditions access to effective cannabis medication.
Maryland is likely to legalize recreational cannabis this year after Del. Jazz Lewis of Prince George’s County pre-filed HB 32 late last year. It is scheduled for a hearing
HB 32 will effectively open up Maryland’s recreational marijuana market and also allow possession and personal cultivation for adults. Lewis also highlighted the criminal justice reforms and social equity and inclusion of his bill which calls for the expungement of records, creation of social equity businesses to include minorities and the formerly incarcerated, and dedication of resources to revitalizing communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.
A similar adult-use legalization bill was also filed February this year by Sen. Brian J. Feldman of Montgomery County and Senate President Bill Ferguson. SB 708 also includes the community reparations and social justice proposals in HB 32 but sets the legal amount for personal use at four ounces instead of two and calls for a gradual increase in excise tax on retail cannabis products starting at 10% instead of 20%.
A recreational marijuana legalization bill just cleared its second House committee this week and is expected to go through several more in the course of the next few weeks before it reaches the floor.
House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, along with Speaker Melissa Hortman and other Democratic lawmakers filed earlier this month HF 600 which would allow those aged 21 and older to purchase and possess up to 1.5 ounces and grow up to eight plants at home, four of which can be mature. It would even allow on-site consumption and delivery services, and prevent local municipalities from banning marijuana businesses from operating in their areas.
The Mississippi Board of Health recently announced that regulations for the state’s medical marijuana program should be in place by July 1 while licenses for dispensaries and cards for patients will be issued August 15.
However, board member Jim Perry clarified that it is unclear when the patients would be able to get their marijuana, since growers can only start cultivating once they get their licenses and regulators will still have to test the strength of the products after.
Despite last year’s setback, advocacy group Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana has already submitted a new petition for a 2022 medical cannabis initiative as well as a parallel measure for recreational marijuana. They are expecting to ramp up a signature campaign in late spring or summer this year.
Democratic lawmakers are also busy lining up pro-marijuana legislation for 2021. LB 481, introduced by Sen. Terrell McKinney, seeks to strike marijuana from state laws criminalizing drugs and expunging past convictions for possession. LB 474, by Sen. Anna Wishart, reintroduces a new version of her Medicinal Cannabis Act which aims to establish a system regulating the production, processing, and distribution of medical marijuana. Lastly, LR2CA, introduced by Sen. Justin Wayne, is a constitutional amendment that seeks to legalize “the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, consumption, and sale of cannabis in any form”.
While Democratic lawmakers have already filed two bills that aim to legalize recreational use, both were “retained” by the House Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety and were effectively rendered useless until 2022.
In addition to legalizing cannabis, HB 237 also aims to regulate and tax retail cannabis sales while HB 629 will legalize simple possession and allow home cultivation. Primary sponsor Rep. Rebecca McWilliams said that they will continue to refine the bill and negotiate to try to come up with something that could potentially get to the two-thirds vote needed to override the governor’s veto. Incumbent Gov. Chris Sununu is known to be opposed to marijuana legalization.
Earlier this month, Democratic Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin set a procedural deadline for Gov. Phil Murphy to sign legislation that will establish a market for adult-use marijuana in the state.
Murphy, who has been given until February 18 to sign the bill, says that he just wants to make sure that young people, especially those of color, don’t get “tangled up” in the criminal justice system. The governor has previously expressed his support for the bill.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed this month New Mexico’s Cannabis Regulation Act which legalizes simple possession, licensed sale, and home cultivation of recreational marijuana.
Starting June 29, 2021, adults aged 21 and older may possess and give up to 2 ounces and grow up to 6 plants for personal use, with a limit of up to 12 per household.
Last March, Governor Andrew Cuomo finally signed into law the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) which legalizes recreational marijuana in New York. Adults aged 21 and older may now legally possess up to 3 ounces of weed and/or up to 24 grams of concentrates. Home cultivation of up to 6 plants per person (with a limit of 3 mature plants at a given time) and up to 12 per household will also be allowed in 2022.
New York, which is now the 15th to legalize adult-use cannabis, is poised to be one of the biggest marijuana markets in the US within a few years. The state’s recent decision to legalize weed is expected to have a big impact on the matter of federal legalization.
There is a good likelihood that North Dakota legalizes recreational marijuana this year but if residents will get to grow their own remains to be seen. Republican lawmakers have already filed their own marijuana bills to pre-empt legalization measures that activists want to put on the 2022 ballot.
HB 1420 is sponsored by Rep. Jason Dockter, will allow adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce and purchase up to 21 grams twice a month but not cultivate for personal use. Meanwhile, HB 1201, filed by Rep. Shannon Roers Jones and Sen. Scott Meyer, is a decriminalization bill that aims to make possession of up to an ounce punishable by only a $50 fine. Carrying more than an ounce and less than 250 grams will only be treated as an infraction instead of a class B misdemeanor.
Activists on the other hand are also busy working to get their own measures for legalizing recreational cannabis before voters next year. ND for Freedom of Cannabis Act filed a measure that seeks to give adults aged 21 and older the right to grow up to 12 plants, up to six of which could be mature. Meanwhile, Legalize ND said recently that it is considering submitting its own measure for 2022 after its last attempt failed in 2018.
There is a good chance that Oklahoma may legalize recreational marijuana this year. After enjoying record sales to the tune of $700-$860 million in 2020 just from medical marijuana alone, the Sooner State seems to be looking to pump up its numbers further by legalizing recreational weed. HB 1961, which seeks to legalize possession, purchase but not home cultivation of adult-use weed for those aged 21 and older, is already in committee after being introduced by Republican Rep. Scott Fetgatter. It is expected to encounter some resistance since the state has a conservative base, but at a time when tax revenue is badly needed, it may be able to get through at the end of the year.
In line with the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in New Jersey and impending push in New York, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf recently reiterated his commitment to prioritizing the legalization of adult-use for this year, saying that his state cannot afford to get left behind.
A bipartisan bill that aims to legalize adult-use cannabis was also filed earlier this year by Sen. Sharif Street (D) and Sen. Dan Laughlin (R). The bill also includes provisions for social and economic equity reforms, and allow qualified patients to grow up to five plants at home.
Sen. Street also filed a decriminalization bill, SB 107, which will reduce simple possession and distribution to a summary offense punishable by a $25 civil fine. It will also lower the penalty for smoking marijuana in public to a $100 civil fine.
Rhode Island is well on its way to legalizing recreational marijuana, which may happen as earl as this year.
Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, is known to have pushed for legalization of recreational marijuana in her state ever since she assumed office. She previously proposed a state-run model which is unlike those in other states. Meanwhile, fellow Democratic lawmakers, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey, and Sen. Joshua Miller are reportedly also working on a recreational marijuana bill for this year’s legislative session.
McCaffrey remarked that Rhode Island’s prohibition policy no longer makes sense seeing that with Massachusetts is moving towards a robust legalization system. He added that establishing a legal marijuana industry will create jobs, capture lost tax revenue and fund important social programs going forward.
South Carolina may finally expand its low-THC cannabis law into a full-fledged medical marijuana law this year.
Sen. Tom Davis has filed again this year a medical cannabis bill that he calls “the most conservative in the country”. Davis, a Republican, is a longtime medical marijuana advocate who pushed for the expansion of the state’s laws. The senator said that he has a majority of state senators and House members who will vote for his bill, S 150.
The South Carolina Compassionate Care Act will expand the list of qualifying conditions for patients. However, it will not allow cannabis to be smoked, it will only be legal as an oil, oral medication and other methods that don’t involve burning.
A House counterpart, HB 3361, filed by Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton, along with 18 co-sponsors is also currently making its way in committee.
South Dakota’s marijuana reform victory last year may be short-lived after a judge ruled against the voter-approved legalization initiative earlier this February.
Judge Christina Klinger of the state’s Sixth Judicial Circuit Court voided Amendment A which won at 54% in November last year, saying that it should have been put through the constitutional convention process instead of as a simple amendment. Klinger added that the measure “has far reaching effects on the basic nature of South Dakota’s governmental system.” The legal challenge against the amendment was filed by law enforcement leaders in the state.
Brendan Johnson, the amendment’s sponsor and attorney for South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, said that they will appeal the ruling to the state’s highest court.
Two bills that aim to create a medical cannabis commission that will study the descheduling of marijuana are scheduled to be heard in the following months. Filed by Republican lawmakers Sen. Ferrell Haile and Rep. Bryan Terry, SB118/HB490 will form a 9 person commission composed of representatives from each of the state’s three grand divisions as well as a physician and a pharmacist. The members will be experts in health care, mental health, business, management, agriculture, or law enforcement.
A decriminalization bill was also filed earlier this year Democratic lawmaker Rep. London Lamar. HB 413 seeks to legalize possession of amounts less than one ounce (28.35 grams) and allow giving, but not selling, small amounts of marijuana. If approved by its respective committees and passed both chambers, the bill could take effect as early as July 1, 2021.
Even though there’s little to no chance of recreational marijuana being legalized in the Beehive State this year or even the next, at least the state’s medical marijuana program is likely to get expanded.
There are already two bills lined up to be tackled by the legislature in the next few months:
SB 170 aims to make it easier for more doctors to recommend medical marijuana and reduce costs associated with getting marijuana recommendations for patients. Meanwhile, HB 0210 seeks to significantly expand the list of qualifying conditions and allow those who suffer opioid addiction to receive medical marijuana for pain management.
Last October 2020, Republican Gov. Phil Scott allowed S 54, which legalizes cannabis sales in Vermont to become law without his signature. The Green Mountain State is now the 11th state to regulate recreational sales and the second to do so legislatively and not by voter initiative.
However, state regulators still have until October 2022 to start issuing licenses for retailers which means sales are may be as far as two years away at the very least.
Virginia is likely to become the 16th US state and the first state in the South to legalize recreational use marijuana after both the House and the Senate passed their versions of a marijuana legalization bill earlier in February.
Both bills seek to create a system of regulated and taxed marijuana production and sales, as well as allow those 21 and older to possess and buy up to one ounce and cultivate up to four plants, two of which can be mature, for recreational use.
Two other bills, HB 2113 and SB 1339, that seek automatic expungement of criminal records for past marijuana offenses were approved earlier this year.
Washingtonians may finally be given the right to grow marijuana at home legally if HB 1019 gets approved. The bill, which was reportedly well-received in a hearing this month, will allow adults to grow up to 6 plants for personal use. The bill’s lead sponsor is Democractic Rep. Shelley Kloba who is also the current chair of the House Commerce and Gaming Committee.
Rep. Kloba noted in a public hearing that that momentum for the policy shift has only grown as home growing of marijuana has become “a fairly standard part” of legalization laws in other states. She added that prohibiting home cultivation is an antiquated policy and it was time for the state to evolve in this space.
Lawmakers are expected to vote to advance the legislation in an executive session later this month.
Patients eligible for medical marijuana in West Virginia will now be able to register under the state’s program, according to an announcement by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health, Office of Medical Cannabis (OMC) last January.
The OMC also announced the successful applicants for medical cannabis dispensary permits that will be allowed to operate retail locations within the state.
Registered patients will only be able to use medical cannabis legally in the following forms: Pills, oils, topicals (gels, creams or ointments), medically appropriate form of vaporization or nebulization, dry leaf or plant form, tinctures, liquids, or dermal patches.
Earlier this month, Gov. Tony Evers revealed that he is including a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in his budget plan for this year.
While the move is likely to be blocked by Republicans in the legislature, it could be a catalyst that could lead to the legalization of medical cannabis.
Evers’ proposal will set the legal age at 21 for recreational use and 18 for medical use. Residents will be allowed to possess a maximum of 2 ounces and cultivate up to six plants for personal use. However, out-of-state residents can only possess up to a quarter of an ounce.
Republican senator Kathy Bernier also introduced SB 164 which seeks to reduce penalties for possession of up to 10 grams to only $100 without any jail time.
Two bills filed by Republican lawmakers are already making their way through the legislature as of now.
HB 82 which aims authorize a study into medical marijuana, has reportedly advanced out of committee already. Meanwhile, HB 209 is a full legalization bill that will allow adults aged 21 and older to possess and purchase of up to 3 ounces of pot, establish a regulated marijuana industry in the state and also allow home growing of up to 12 plants for personal use.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is highly likely that cannabis will be decriminalized this year and a fair chance of it getting legalized. VP Kamala Harris had already introduced the MORE Act which aims to decriminalize cannabis and enact various criminal and social justice reforms. This may set the tenor for succeeding marijuana bills for this year. In addition to this, a proposal that seeks to legalize cannabis at a federal level got an early start this year. According to lead sponsor Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the bill he is working on with Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden and Sen. Cory Booker will be merged with other legalization bills such as the MORE Act. These are likely to get a good fighting chance in a Democrat-controlled Senate.
Alabama may legalize medical marijuana this year if the Compassion Act, or SB 46 gets approved in the Senate. Introduced by Republican Sen. Tim Melson, the bill seeks to allow patients with one of about 20 qualifying conditions to buy and consume certain forms of marijuana. However, it will not allow patients to smoke, vape, consume edibles or cultivate cannabis at home.
Delaware is highly likely to legalize recreational cannabis this year after its neighbor, New Jersey, did so in 2020. Rep. Ed Osienski is set to introduce a bill, HB 110, which will establish a regulated marijuana market in the state. However, it will not give Delawareans the right to grow weed at home.
Three bills, HB 343, SB 710, and SB 664 which aim to legalize recreational marijuana in Florida are set to be heard in the following months. Unfortunately, none of the bills include a provision for home cultivation.
There are already multiple legalization bills pending in both the House and the Senate in Hawaii. These bills which aim to decriminalize and legalize recreational marijuana as well as establish a marketplace that will generate tax revenue are unlikely to encounter significant opposition in a state where medical marijuana has been legal for more than a decade.
There is a good chance that Indiana could decriminalize marijuana within the year. A decriminalization bill, HB 1154, was already introduced earlier this year and there are two more bills, SB 87 and 233, in the Senate. However, even medical marijuana is still illegal in the state so it is likely that possession limits will only be raised instead of outright legalization for this year.
There might be a chance that Kansas will consider legalizing marijuana this year if HB 2288 gets passed in the next few months. The decriminalization bill will reduce possession of small amounts to a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine. It will also bring down penalties for manufacturing or distributing such substances, reducing sentencing requirements for those convicted of such offenses.
A medical marijuana bill filed by Republican Rep. Jason Nemes is expected to get through the state legislature in the following months. While Democrats have also filed their own medical marijuana bills for this year, HB 461 and HB 467, Nemes’ narrower bill is predicted to have better odds of getting approved.
A recreational legalization bill, HB 32, was already pre-filed last year and its counterpart in the Senate, SB 708, is already set to be tackled this year. As a liberal state that already has a medical marijuana program, Maryland is likely to approve adult-use to generate much needed tax revenue.
A recreational marijuana bill filed by Democratic lawmakers is expected to reach the floor in the next few week. HF 600 seeks to allow those aged 21 and older to purchase and possess up to 1.5 ounces and grow up to eight plants at home, four of which can be mature. It will also legalize on-site consumption and delivery services, and prevent local municipalities from banning marijuana businesses from operating in their areas.
Mississippi legalized medical marijuana just last year so it is unlikely to legalize recreational use this year. In fact, the American Medical Association (AMA) and its state affiliate, the Mississippi State Medical Association (MSMA) are currently challenging Initiative 65 which residents voted in favor of last year.
Cannabis advocacy group Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana has already submitted a petition for a 2022 medical cannabis initiative as well as a parallel measure for recreational marijuana. Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers are also working on several pro-marijuana legislation for 2021: LB 481 will remove marijuana from state laws criminalizing drugs and expunging past convictions for possession, LB 474 is a Medicinal Cannabis Act which aims to establish a system regulating the production, processing, and distribution of medical marijuana, and LR2CA is a constitutional amendment that will to legalize “the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, consumption, and sale of cannabis in any form”.
New Hampshire is unlikely to legalize marijuana this year after two recreational cannabis bills got “retained” by the House Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety and cannot be taken up for the rest of the year. The two bills HB 237 and HB 629 seek to regulate and tax retail cannabis sales and legalize simple possession and allow home cultivation respectively.
Both medical and recreational marijuana are now legal in New Jersey. However, Gov. Phil Murphy has yes to sign the legislation even though he has expressed support for it in the past.
It is likely that marijuana will be legalized this year in North Dakota through a bill filed by Republican lawmakers. HB 1420 will allow adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce and purchase up to 21 grams twice a month but not cultivate for personal use.
Meanwhile, HB 1201 aims to make possession of up to an ounce punishable by only a $50 fine. Carrying more than an ounce and less than 250 grams will only be treated as an infraction instead of a class B misdemeanor.
Oklahoma may legalize recreational marijuana this year after enjoying record sales of medical marijuana in 2020.
HB 1961, which seeks to legalize possession, purchase but not home cultivation of adult-use weed for those aged 21 and older, is already in committee after being introduced by Republican Rep. Scott Fetgatter. The bill may have a good chance of passing now that the state is in need of tax revenue after the disruption caused by the pandemic.
Marijuana may have a hard time getting legalized in Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature this year. Nevertheless, Gov. Tom Wolf already expressed his commitment to prioritizing legalization this year which he expects to bring in much needed tax dollars for the state.
Rhode Island is likely to legalize recreational marijuana this year under Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo who previously proposed a state-run model which is unlike those in other states. Meanwhile, fellow Democratic lawmakers, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey, and Sen. Joshua Miller are reportedly also working on a recreational marijuana bill for this year’s legislative session.
South Dakota is only likely to legalize medical marijuana this year. Two bills, S 150 and HB 3361 are set to be heard this year. Longtime medical marijuana advocate and primary sponsor of S 150 Sen. Tom Davis says that he has majority support for his bill in both chambers.
The bills will expand the existing qualifying conditions for medical marijuana but will not allow patients to cultivate at home.
South Dakota legalized medical marijuana just last year so it is unlikely to legalize recreational use this year. In fact, there is a chance that the win could be overturned as a state judge recently ruled the voter-approved initiative to be void.
Tennessee may only go as far as to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana this year. There might also be a small chance that the state legalizes medical cannabis since two bills, SB118/HB490, that aim to create a medical cannabis commission that will study the de-scheduling of marijuana have already been filed.
Meanwhile, HB 413 seeks to legalize possession of amounts less than one ounce (28.35 grams) and allow giving, but not selling, small amounts of marijuana. If approved by its respective committees and passed both chambers, the bill could take effect as early as July 1, 2021.
While recreational use is unlikely to be legalized in the near future in Utah, state legislators are at least looking to expand the existing medical marijuana laws with SB 170 which aims to make it easier for doctors to recommend medical marijuana and HB 0210 which intends to expand the list of qualifying conditions and allow those who suffer opioid addiction to receive medical marijuana for pain management.
Vermont legalized recreational marijuana last October 2020 by way of S 54. However, licenses can only be issued for retailers on October 22 at the earliest, which means the state won’t be seeing any sales this year.
Washington may finally allow home cultivation this year if HB 1019 gets approved. The bill, which was reportedly well-received will allow adults to grow up to 6 plants for personal use. The bill’s lead sponsor is Democractic Rep. Shelley Kloba who is also the current chair of the House Commerce and Gaming Committee.
West Virginia had already legalized medical marijuana back in 2017 but only now is the ball starting to roll in terms of its implementation. A recreational cannabis bill may likely be introduced this year since a West Virginia House leader is reportedly polling Republican lawmakers on the issue, but there is a slim chance that it will get signed into law this year.
While Gov. Tony Evers revealed that he is committed to legalizing medical marijuana this year, a proposal could have a difficult time getting through a Republican-controlled legislature.
Republican senator Kathy Bernier also introduced SB 164 which seeks to reduce penalties for possession of up to 10 grams to only $100 without any jail time.
There is a good chance that full legalization might get through in Wyoming this year with a Republican-sponsored bill.
HB 209, a bill that will allow adults aged 21 and older to possess and purchase of up to 3 ounces of pot, is already headed to the House for debate. It will also establish a regulated marijuana industry in the state and allow home growing of up to 12 plants for personal use.
Another bill, HB 82, which aims to authorize a study into medical marijuana, has also reportedly advanced out of committee already.