A total of 19 states have legalized cannabis for adult use since 2012. They are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia and Washington State. Note that the South Dakota law has been overturned by a circuit court and awaits a ruling from the state Supreme Court.
According to NORML: “An estimated 145 million Americans – or more than 40% of the country – now live in a jurisdiction where the use of cannabis by adults is legal under state law.”
That’s a lot of progress since Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize for adults nine years ago.
Say NORML’s Executive Director Erik Altieri: “Legalization is now a reality for nearly one-half of the US population. As more jurisdictions continue to enact these common-sense regulatory policies, it’s imperative that Congress quits stalling and amends federal law in a manner that addresses this state/federal divide and respects the will of the voters in these growing number of states.”
In addition, a total of 47 states have some kind of medical cannabis law in place, whether it’s a full cannabinoid program or just CBD.
Despite all of this positive news, there are some negatives. Thirty-one states still do not have adult-use legalization. Efforts in Delaware, Rhode Island and Minnesota recently stalled. In Florida, several court rulings have blocked ballot-initiative efforts. A court recently overruled medical Initiative 65 in Mississippi. Idaho is trying to stop any kind of public legalization vote. And South Dakota’s Amendment A is up in the air.
Other efforts to restrict legal cannabis have found support in state legislatures – even in Colorado, where THC caps are being instituted thanks in part to Gov. Jared Polis, a legalization supporter who signed the bill.
As far as federal efforts, multiple legalization bills are currently circulating in the House and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is promising to announce his sweeping Senate bill any day now.
However, as the Senate is currently composed, it's unlikely a legalization bill could pass, especially needing 60 votes.
So, for now, it’s up to the states to keep moving forward as the laboratories of cannabis democracy until Congress decides it’s time to end prohibition 84 years after it started and half a century since Nixon commenced the War on Drugs.
This article was initially reported at The State of Cannabis NewsHour on Clubhouse.