Where is marijuana legal and approved in 2022
Though cannabis is still a Schedule I drug under federal law, 19 states have approved marijuana legal for recreational purposes and 38 for medicinal use. Five more — Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota — will vote on recreational marijuana in November.
This month, US President Joe Biden issued an executive order pardoning all federal convictions for simple marijuana possession and has encouraged governors to make similar moves.
“While white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates,” Biden said in a statement. “There are thousands of people who were previously convicted of simple possession who may be denied employment, housing or educational opportunities as a result.”
Here’s what to know about marijuana legal in the US, including which states have passed laws, what’s happening on the federal level and how Americans feel about legalizing pot.
As of July 2022, 38 states have legalized the medical use of cannabis to varying degrees, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi
Arkansas voters will be presented with Arkansas Issue 4 on the midterm ballot, also known as the Marijuana Legalization Initiative.
The initiative would make it legal for people at least 21 years old to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use. The proposal would also eliminate taxes on medical marijuana while increasing taxes on recreational purchases. The tax revenue would fund law enforcement and state drug court programs.
There’s an appetite in Arkansas for recreational cannabis use. Medical marijuana is already legal in the state, and about 92,000 Arkansans have medical marijuana legal cards. About $205 million has already been spent on medical marijuana this year, according to Axios.
Currently, up to 40 licensed dispensaries can operate. Arkansas Issue 4 would increase the number of dispensaries and cultivators allowed in the state.
Maryland’s medical marijuana authorization laws have been in place since 2013. Now, voters will voice their opinions on whether or not recreational marijuana legal use should be allowed in the state.
Maryland Question 4, referred to as the Marijuana Legalization Amendment would legalize recreational marijuana use for adults 21 years of age or older, beginning in July 2023.
The amendment would also allow individuals convicted of marijuana crimes to petition for them to be expunged from their criminal records; individuals serving prison sentences will also be allowed to petition for resentencing and release.
A recent Washington Post-University of Maryland poll found 73% of registered voters in Maryland favor recreational marijuana legalization.
Missouri currently allows medical marijuana use. Amendment 3 would legalize the possession, delivery, manufacturing and sale of pot for personal use for adults over the age of 21. It would also impose a 6% tax on commercial marijuana sales to fund various community programs.
Amendment 3 would grant relief to people currently incarcerated for certain pot-related offenses. The amendment would give them the right to petition for release from prison or for parole and probation and have their records expunged.
It’s unclear how voters will respond to Amendment 3. Recent polls find Missouri residents are divided over legalizing marijuana use, according to the Missouri Independent. Missouri law enforcement leaders recently released a statement urging voters not to vote for Amendment 3, claiming its decriminalization measures could create dangerous situations, such as driving under the influence of marijuana.
4. North Dakota
Statutory Measure 2 legalizes recreational marijuana use and possession for adults 21 and older. Under the provision, individuals can also grow up to three plants in their private residence for marijuana production.
The measure also includes a provision that would require the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services to establish guidelines on recreational marijuana use and regulate where and how it’s sold. For example, the department would be required to create labeling standards listing THC and CBD amounts in marijuana products, as well as establish licensing procedures for marijuana businesses.
A similar marijuana legalization provision failed in North Dakota in the past. In 2018, voters rejected Measure 3, which would have legalized recreational marijuana use and expunge records of those convicted with nonviolent marijuana-related crimes.
Statutory Measure 2 doesn’ti nclude expungement provisions, but would no longer make the smell of marijuana or suspicion of possession cause for law enforcement to search or arrest someone, unless there was evidence that the allowed quantities were exceeded.
5. South Dakota
Residents of South Dakota have voted in favor of recreational marijuana in the past. In 2020, voters approved Amendment A, which would have legalized recreational pot use, but the state Supreme Court ruled it violated amendment laws and struck it down.
Now, South Dakota residents have the chance again to legalize recreational marijuana use.
Now, Measure 27, the South Dakota Marijuana Initiative will be on the midterm ballot. The initiative would legalize the possession, distribution and use of marijuana for people who are at least 21 years old. Individuals will be legally allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana; those who don’t live near a licensed marijuana store will be permitted to grow up to three marijuana plants in their homes.
The continued march toward recreational marijuana legalization illustrates a changing dynamic in how the country views cannabis.
Until recently, states have largely held the responsibility of legalizing cannabis use, as well as decriminalizing marijuana-related offenses.
Though many states have permitted marijuana consumption, either on medical or recreational terms, advocates have long argued that the criminalization of marijuana still needs reform, based on evidence that related crimes disproportionately affect Black and brown Americans despite their usage rates being similar to that of white Americans.
The decriminalization of marijuana took a major turn on a federal level when President Joe Biden implemented reforms in early October.