Five More States Legalize Cannabis
A raft of new states have joined the “Great American Green Rush”
2020 closed out with some big wins for cannabis as Arizona, South Dakota, Montana, Mississippi, and New Jersey all passed legalization measures at the end of last year. All are expected to come into fruition in the coming months, and that’s making 2021 a year to look forward to.
Here’s a rundown of all the newest legal states and what they legalized.
After a failed bid in 2016, Arizona residents finally approved recreational cannabis legalization in 2020 with Proposition 207. The bill states that those 21 and over will be able to possess, use, and transport up to one ounce of cannabis, although smoking in public will remain illegal.
Prop 207 also started the ball rolling on creating a regulatory framework for cultivation and sale in the state, and will also amend existing marijuana laws and pave the way for the expungement of prior marijuana convictions.
As the 11th most populous state in America, New Jersey legalizing should have represented a significant step forward for cannabis. However, some less than stellar lawmaking and political wrangling over implementation left Public Question 1 in limbo. Thankfully, legislation finally seems to be moving forward and the hopes are that New Jersey's messy attempt at legalizing will be resolved soon.
The state's legalization efforts initially coincided with the outbreak of Covid-19, and risked being sunk by stay at home orders which would have made it impossible for people to attend polling stations. Thanks to some tenacious efforts from cannabis activists however, Initiative 190, and 118 were kept on the table until voting was possible, and Montana residents decided to legalize recreational cannabis for adult use.
In a surprise outcome for one of the most conservative states in the country, and despite an aggressive anti-cannabis push from politicians, lawmakers, and religious leaders in the state, Mississippi residents voted overwhelmingly to legalize medical cannabis. Med patients with one of 22 qualifying conditions will soon have access to medicinal cannabis in the state, which is a huge victory for legalization in the south.
South Dakota became the first state to move straight to full legalization of both medical and recreational cannabis, leapfrogging what is usually a multistep process in one fell swoop. Both Measure 26, and Amendment A passed, making medicinal marijuana and adult rec use legal in the state. Those over 21 will be able to possess, use, and transport up to one ounce of cannabis legally, and qualifying med patients can have up to three ounces, and also grow a maximum of three plants.
With the vast majority of America now having legalized cannabis in some form or another, serious talk is happening around the possibility that cannabis could become federally legal this year, and five more legal states makes that all the more likely.