More States Are Legalizing Cannabis – and the Federal Government Might, Too

California was the first state to override federal laws about the cannabis plant. Nullification is the states’ right to invalidate federal laws they consider unconstitutional. But federal courts have never upheld nullified state laws.

As a result of conflicting federal and state laws, marijuana legality is often in a gray area. States do not need to enforce federal laws, and the federal government does not have the resources to implement them nationwide.

Some figures in the government believe that federally legalizing cannabis could increase federal funding and decrease the harm of criminalization. 

While cannabis is not federally legal, multiple states and Washington D.C. legalize recreational weed for adults. Even more states legalized medical marijuana. 

Most states where cannabis medicinal or recreational use is legal require adults to be at least 21 years of age to purchase it. 

Here are the states’ marijuana laws as of April 2022:

  • Fully legal – Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Washington D.C.
  • Mixed legality – Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin
  • Fully illegal – Alabama, Idaho, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wyoming

Upcoming and Prospective State Bills

Later in 2022 (November ballots):

The Recreational Marijuana Legalization and Marijuana-Related Conviction Expungement Initiative would legalize marijuana use for adults in Arkansas and create a process for the expungement of marijuana-related felony and misdemeanor convictions.

The Idaho Marijuana Legalization Initiative would legalize adults’ possession, use, and transfer of up to three ounces of marijuana.

The Maryland Marijuana Legalization Amendment would add a new article that legalizes the personal use and possession of up to 1.5 ounces or 12 grams of concentrated cannabis for adults. It would also automatically expunge convictions that would be legal under the law, and individuals serving time for such offenses would be allowed to file for resentencing.

The Missouri Marijuana Legalization Initiative would legalize personal use for adults and allow individuals convicted of non-violent marijuana-related offenses to petition for release from incarceration and/or records expunged. The state would also impose a 6% tax on the sale of marijuana.

Nebraska has four initiatives that would amend the state’s current laws to expand legalization to include recreational purposes for marijuana use for adults and medical use for younger than 18 years of age with the written recommendation of a health care professional and legal guardian. 

  • Nebraska Medical Marijuana Initiative 
  • Nebraska Marijuana Legalization Initiative 
  • Nebraska Medical Marijuana Program Initiative 
  • Nebraska Medical Marijuana Regulation Initiative 

The Ohio Marijuana Legalization Initiative would legalize recreational marijuana for adults and include details about possession and growing plants. 

The Oklahoma Marijuana Legalization Initiative would legalize and regulate marijuana for adults and impose a 15% sales tax for recreational purchases (without a medical marijuana license).

The South Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative would legalize recreational marijuana for adults again, as the state decriminalized and repealed the reform multiple times in the last few years.  

The Wyoming Medical Marijuana Initiative of 2024 would authorize the Wyoming Liquor Division to set up a medical treatment program to regulate the cultivation, sale, and use.   

North Dakota, Mississippi, and Florida have removed the Marijuana Legalization Initiative from their 2022 ballots. 

Legalizing Cannabis at Federal Level

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act removes marijuana from the list of controlled substances. It is currently a Scheduled I drug, which means it is not currently accepted for medicinal use and has a high potential for abuse. 

The MORE Act decriminalizes marijuana and could eliminate criminal penalties for distributing, manufacturing, or possessing any parts of the plant. It would also establish an expunge process for individuals with previous cannabis-related convictions. The MORE Act passed the House vote 220 to 204 on April 1, 2022.

However, this recent approval is not the marijuana-decriminalization bill’s first. The House passed the MORE Act in 2020, but the Senate did not consider it. The bill has many steps to take before it becomes law.

Political.com™ is an independent polling company and privately operated business. Learn more about us here.