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United States of Weed

If it seems like a new state is legalizing cannabis nearly every week, don’t worry, you’re not high — states are indeed legalizing the drug at an unprecedented pace. The wave of green legislation doesn’t seem like it’s going to start ebbing anytime soon, either.

In just the past six months, every cannabis-related ballot measure put to voters last November passed — including those in conservative Mississippi, Montana, and South Dakota — and state legislatures in New York, New Mexico, and Virginia have approved bills to legalize cannabis for recreational use. That’s a lot of action. So much so, in fact, that there are now fewer states that have not legalized THC for either medicinal or recreational purposes (13), than there are that have given their residents a green light to smoke up at their leisure (17).

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It’s now a question of when, not if, politicians in Washington, D.C., will get with the program and decide to do what the majority of Americans support by passing legislation to end federal prohibition once and for all. In the meantime, states are continuing to prime themselves to legalize the drug, either for medicinal use, recreational use, or both. Here’s where things stand is all 50 of them:

Alabama

Status: All THC illegal

Alabama has been called out by the Southern Poverty Law Center for having “draconian” cannabis laws. Prosecutors have the option of charging almost anyone caught with weed with felony distribution, and an ACLU study found that in 2018 black ­people were over four times more likely to be arrested for possession than white people. The current state of things may not be great, but there have been a few signs of progress in recent years. In March, the state Senate approved medical cannabis legislation for the third year in a row, and the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a decriminalization bill that would reduce the penalty for possessing less than two ounces to a $250 violation fine.

Alaska

Status: Fully legal

Alaska was one of the first states to allow medical marijuana, legalizing in 1998 — but the measure didn’t allow for sales, so it wasn’t much of a program. Then, the state became one of the early adopters of adult-use recreational marijuana, with voters passing a ballot measure in 2014. But rollout also came with some setbacks: dispensaries were slow to open, and getting product to remote parts of the state — accessible only by air travel, which is governed by federal law — proved difficult. But after the first dispensary opened its doors in 2016, things have picked up — Anchorage, home to 40 percent of the state’s population, had $9 million in pot sales in 2020, a 25 percent increase from 2019. 

Arizona

Status: Fully Legal

Medicinal cannabis has been legal in Arizona since 2010, and in 2020 the state voted overwhelming to legalize it for recreational use, too. The measure that passed in November allowed for adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of cannabis, grow up to six plants, and provided an opportunity for people to have their criminal records expunged for certain cannabis-related crimes. It also called for a quick turnaround time for lawmakers to sort out the market rules and dole out licenses. As a result, the first recreational cannabis sales were made in late January. 

Arkansas

Status: Medically Legal

Arkansas voted to legalize cannabis for medicinal use in 2016. Residents are permitted to carry up to 2.5 ounces to treat qualifying conditions. Since the first dispensary opened in Hot Springs in 2019, residents have spent over $250 million medical cannabis.

California

Status: Fully Legal

California is the OG of weed legalization — since they approved medical marijuana with Prop 215 in 1996 (largely on the backs of LGBTQ activists advocating for AIDS patients, but that’s a different story) the state has been at the forefront of legalization, introducing non-profit cooperatives in 2003, and allowing a proliferation of retail dispensaries for medical product — many with dubious credentials — in 2010. But in 2016, when voters passed an adult-use legalization measure, the state made a crucial mistake: high taxes and expensive licenses discouraged existing retailers and customers to make the switch, and the established grey market just, well, stayed put. Though the legal market has hit $4.4 billion in annual sales, the state’s illicit market could be three times that size. The state’s mistake has since inspired other legalizing states, like New York, to put an emphasis on turning black-market operators into legal ones — and making sure the customers can afford what they’re selling. 

Denver, Colorado, is an innovation hub for high-tech pot.

Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post/Getty Images

Colorado

Status: Fully Legal

Colorado, which passed a ballot initiative in 2012, was the first state to establish a recreational marijuana market. They got some things right — the first $40 million in tax revenue every year goes to building public schools, so far raising tens of millions for the fund — while also getting a lot of things wrong (i.e., no social equity measures to speak of, resulting in an overwhelmingly white industry). Consequently, the laws surrounding legal cannabis are a work in progress. In March, Governor Jared Polis signed a bill to establish a social equity program to provide loans, grants, and education for communities hardest hit by the war on drugs. The state is also facing attacks from anti-marijuana activists, who are pushing for potency caps, particularly on extracts, which have long been popular in Colorado. Even if these issues get worked out, the industry — which had more than $2 billion in sales in 2020 — may soon be facing criticism from climate activists: a recent study found that indoor grows in Colorado have more greenhouse-gas emissions than the state’s coal industry. 

Connecticut

Status: Medically Legal

Connecticut has maintained a medical marijuana system for nearly a decade, with more than 50,000 patients currently enrolled in the program for a wide range of reasons. But now that New York and New Jersey have both tipped for full legalization, chances are Connecticut won’t take long to approve an adult-use measure of their own. As of early April, there are two proposals in the running: from Governor Ned Lamond, SB 888, would establish various committees and start recreational sales by May 2022. But some have criticized that bill’s vague language when it comes to social equity programs, and are instead supporting HB 5853, a bill focused on making up for the devastation of the drug war, while building a diverse industry within the state. 

Delaware

Status: Medically Legal

Delaware is heavily Democratic and the party has a supermajority in the state legislature, but Governor John Carney isn’t a fan of legalization. After a recreational use bill made it through a state House committee in March, a spokesperson stressed that Carney’s position “hasn’t changed” and that he still has “concerns” about legalization. Delaware legalized cannabis for medicinal use way back in 2011, although home cultivation is not allowed.

Florida

Status: Medically Legal

Floridians can pick up cannabis from medicinal dispensaries with a doctor’s recommendation, but that’s about it. Medical patients are not permitted to grow at home, and some members of the state legislature are even working to restrict the amount of THC permitted in the state’s medicinal cannabis. Democrats are pushing a bill to legalize recreational use, although it’s yet to make it onto any committee agendas. In March, a poll by medical cannabis advocacy group Florida for Cares found that 58 percent of Floridians are in favor of the state legalizing the drug for adult use.

Georgia

Status: Low-THC Products Medically Legal

High-CBD/low-THC cannabis is legal for medical use in Georgia, but don’t let that fool you. THC products are very much illegal. In 2018, over 50,000 cannabis arrests were made in the state, which had the 5th-highest cannabis-related arrest rate in the nation. In 2020, Democrats in the state legislature introduced the Georgia Justice Act, which would decriminalize low-level possession. The legislature is still, however, controlled by Republicans.

Hawaii

Status: Medically Legal

Medical cannabis is legal and possession of less than three grams of cannabis was decriminalized in 2019, but Hawaii does not have a recreational program. Lawmakers are trying to change that. In February, two bills were approved by a Senate committee, one to increase the decriminalization threshold from three grams to an ounce, and one to legalize cannabis for adult use. Considering Democrats have a legislative supermajority, one would think these bills could pass, but Democratic Governor David Ige has opposed reform, and as recently as March said he has “concerns” about legalization, citing the drug’s federal Schedule I status.

Idaho

Status: Fully Illegal

Things are not moving in the right direction in Idaho. Not only is anything with a trace of THC illegal, in February the state Senate voted to write cannabis prohibition into the Constitution, which would effectively prevent residents from voting to legalize it.

New Years Day is cold in Illinois, but it didn’t stop crowds of people in Mundelein from lining up for the first day of legal weed sales.

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Illinois

Status: Fully Legal

The fight over legalization in Illinois came down not to if, but how. Chicago, perhaps the most segregated city in the U.S., was a ground zero for the war on drugs; for decades, whole swaths of the city had been torn apart by draconian drug laws that seemed to apply only to black residents. Legalization was coming, but if it didn’t address that history, it was not going to get anywhere. The result was one of the most progressive legalization plans of its time when it was signed in 2019. Not only did it legalize for adults, it guaranteed expungement or pardons for anyone with a low-level nonviolent conviction (nearly half a million people were able to have their records cleared as of December 2020). Some jurisdictions have taken it a step further, funneling pot revenue directly into the communities that were targeted. In March, Evanston, a suburb just north of Chicago, approved what is believed to be the country’s first reparations program, offering housing grants to black residents, funded in part by marijuana tax revenue. 

Indiana

Status: Fully Illegal

Indiana is very Republican, and cannabis is very illegal there. Though Governor Eric Holcombe signed a bill to legalize CBD in 2018, penalties are still harsh for anything containing more than .3 percent THC. Lawmakers have brought cannabis reform bills to the state’s General Assembly, but Holcombe has said he’s blocking any efforts to legalize it.

Iowa

Status: CBD Medically Legal

Medicinal cannabis is legal in Iowa, but the program is pretty limited. Only around 5,000 Iowans have medical cards, and patients are not permitted to use flower. It doesn’t look like there’s much chance the state’s Republican-controlled legislature is going to expand the program, either, even though a Des Moines Register poll released in March found that a whopping 78 percent of residents are in favor of it.

Kansas

Status: Low-THC Products Medically Legal

All cannabis is illegal in Kansas, but in February Democratic Governor Laura Kell proposed legalizing it for medicinal use to help expand Medicaid. Weeks later, lawmakers introduced a bill to do just that. “By combining broadly popular, commonsense medical marijuana policy that will generate significant revenue with Medicaid expansion, all logical opposition to expansion is eliminated,” Kelly said. “This bill just makes sense.” As of now, CBD containing less than .5 percent THC is all that’s legal, and only to treat certain medical conditions.

Kentucky

Status: CBD Medically Legal

CBD is all that’s legal currently, but Democratic Governor Andy Beshear has said it’s time to legalize cannabis for medicinal use, and earlier this year lawmakers introduced a bill to make it happen. The problem is the state Senate, which is controlled by Republicans and declined to take up a similar medical cannabis bill passed by the House in 2020.

Louisiana

Status: Medically Legal
Two-thirds of Louisiana voters are in favor of recreational cannabis in the state, but so far, legalization efforts are slow going. The state enacted medical cannabis laws way back in 1991, but it took until 2016 for a comprehensive program to be established. Even then, patients were only allowed tinctures for a limited number of conditions. Gummies and some other extracts have since been allowed, and a new bill seeks to add flower to that list. Things are speeding up, though — more than a dozen cannabis bills have been introduced this session, from one authorizing a study on what adult-use legalization would to do the state, to one enacting the real thing.

Maine

Status: Fully Legal

Though weed was legalized in Maine in 2016, it took a while to get a retail industry set up — it wasn’t until October 2020 that recreational dispensaries finally opened their doors. Already, though, some in the state — which has had a medical program since 1999, reliant mostly on small growers — worry that change is happening too fast. Big, multi-state cannabis companies are targeting the state (brand names like Keef are already on dispensary shelves) leaving some to worry that the mom-and-pop legacy will be lost.  

Maryland

Status: Medically Legal

Maryland is very close to legalization, but it’s stuck at the crossroads — as are many states that were hotspots of the failed drug war — of figuring out how to implement it fairly. Two bills, both focused on social equity, progressed through the state legislature this year, but after each getting a single committee hearing, neither advanced. Lawmakers have said they will try again next year. For now, marijuana is decriminalized, and about 100 medical marijuana dispensaries serve the state’s 125,000 patients. 

Massachusetts

Status: Fully Legal

Despite its reputation as a liberal state, Massachusetts has a history of legislating social trends — you can’t buy booze before noon on Sundays, and tattooing was illegal until 2000. So it wasn’t surprising that when Massachusetts became one of the first East Coast states to legalize in 2016 (along with Maine), officials took their time talking out the details; retail sales didn’t begin until July 1st, 2018. Even now, rollout of retail shops has been slow, with only 77 licensed recreational dispensaries open as of October. It didn’t help that when the pandemic hit, medical dispensaries were considered essential, but recreational ones were shut down from March until May. As a result, the number of patients in the program grew to over 100,000 in 2020, up from 67,000 the year before. 

Teesha Montague shows off the wares at Huron View Provisioning in Ann Arbor, Michigan, earlier this year.

Paul Sancya/AP

Michigan

Status: Fully Legal

Michiganders voted overwhelmingly to legalize cannabis for recreational use in 2018, with the first dispensaries opening up a little over a year later. Possession of up to 2.5 ounces and 15 grams of THC concentrate, and the cultivation of up to 12 plants, is legal for adults 21 and over. Public consumption, however, is not permitted. Last October, Governor Gretchen Whitmer was able to sign legislation that allows residents with low-level cannabis convictions to have their records expunged. “For too long, criminal charges have created barriers to employment, barriers to housing and others for hundreds of thousands of Michiganders,” Whitmer said at the time. “These bipartisan bills are going to be a game changer.”

Minnesota

Status: Medically Legal

Minnesota, which has had medically legal weed since 2014, is putting an adult-use legalization bill through the ringer at the moment — as of mid-April, it’s been approved by seven committees, and is awaiting an eighth. Like many current bills being considered by state legislatures, it’s heavy on social equity: “We seek to provide criminal justice reform and make sure that those adversely affected through the criminal sanctions of the war on drugs have an opportunity to have their records expunged,” House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler said in a statement before the vote, according to Marijuana Moment. “And to have an opportunity to participate in the upside, the opportunity of a new cannabis market — to right past wrongs.” It is expected that the bill will go to a vote in May. 

Mississippi

Status: Medically Legal

Mississippi voted overwhelmingly last November to legalize cannabis for medicinal use, but the effort to get an actual program up and running has not been going well. The measure has been held up in court, and lawmakers are currently jockeying over alternative legislation that could replace the measure should it be struck down by the state’s Supreme Court. Either way, it’s looking like it’s going to be hard for the state to meet the initial August 15th deadline to issue medical cards.

Missouri

Status: Medically Legal

Missourians voted in 2018 to legalize cannabis for medicinal use, but it’s unlikely recreational legalization is coming anytime soon considering the state is controlled by Republicans. The party does have at least one legalization advocate. “We spend more time and more law enforcement resources going after marijuana smokers than all the other drugs combined. Ten percent of the arrests in the state of Missouri right now are from marijuana possession,” Rep. Shamad Dogan said earlier this year in proposing a constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis.

Montana

Status: Fully Legal

Montana was one of the five states that voted in favor of cannabis ballot initiatives last November. Adults 21 and over are allowed to possess up to one ounce of flower and eight grams of THC concentrate, and four plants per individual (eight per household) may be cultivated at home. Dispensaries won’t open until 2022, however, and the state’s conservative lawmakers are currently working to water down Initiative 190 before the legal market is up and running. The changes they are seeking include complicating the licensure system, giving local leaders discretion over whether recreational businesses can operate in their jurisdiction, and preventing people who have had drug-related convictions from participating in the state’s cannabis industry.

Nebraska

Status: THC Illegal

Cannabis is illegal in Nebraska, but in March the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to legalize the drug for medicinal use. Actually passing anything is going to be difficult in the Republican-controlled state, though, so Democrats are aiming to let the people decide. Cannabis advocates in the state legislature want to get measures to legalize for recreational use and medicinal use on the ballot in 2022. It could happen. Last November, South Dakota, a state every bit as red as Nebraksa, voted in favor of dual ballot measures to legalize.

Nevada

Status: Fully Legal

Nevada legalized for recreational use through a ballot measure back in 2016. Adults over 21 are able to possess up to an ounce of flower and 3.5 grams of concentrate. The state has also seen success with drive-through dispensaries, and in April lawmakers approved a bill allowing for “consumption lounges.” Nevada is also beginning to make strides on the restorative justice front. Last June, Governor Steve Sisolak pardoned over 15,000 people who had been convicted of cannabis-related offenses that are now legal.

New Hampshire

Status: Medically Legal

New Hampshire may be known as a libertarian bastion — Live Free or Die, after all — but the state has held firm on traditionally conservative notions of weed. Medical marijuana is legal, and as of late January, there were just over 11,000 patients in the state, though a limited number of dispensaries exist, and personal cultivation is prohibited. In January, Democrats introduced legislation for recreational weed. It was an optimistic bill — it had a low tax rate, home-grow, and retail sales — but unfortunately, it isn’t expected to make it through the session. “Eventually it will get passed,” one sponsor of the bill told Marijuana Moment. “But I don’t think it will happen until we get a new governor.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy promised legal weed on the campaign trail; earlier this year, he finally came through.

Edwin J. Torres/New Jersey Governor’s Office/AP

New Jersey

Status: Fully Legal

It’s been a long road for cannabis in New Jersey, which has been this close to legalization for at least a few years. Back in 2010, Governor John Corzine signed medical marijuana into law, but when Republican Governor Chris Christie came into office the following year, he stymied the initiative, keeping the list of conditions short and the barrier for entry high. That all changed in 2018, when incoming Gov. Phil Murphy signed a huge expansion into law, allowing for a range of conditions, and making it easier for patients to get the plant. (There are now thirteen dispensaries serving roughly 100,000 registered patients in the state.) Recreational pot passed via ballot initiative in 2020, and the state has since been scrambling to formulate a Cannabis Commission, and to form regulations. Dispensaries are expected to open in early 2022.   

New Mexico

Status: Medically Legal

New Mexico officially became the 17th state to legalize cannabis for recreational use in April, less than two weeks after state lawmakers passed the Cannabis Regulation Act. The new law allows adults 21 and over to possess up to two ounces of flower, permits the home cultivation of up to six plants, and automatically wipes the records of those convicted of low-level cannabis offenses. “New Mexico is a state, like most other states, that has experienced disproportionate arrests for cannabis,” Emily Kaltenbach of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico told Rolling Stone. “This bill is going to change lives in New Mexico, not only from the automatic expungement and re-sentencing components, but to help create some equity in the industry and protection for users.” Retail sales are scheduled to begin on April 1st, 2022.

New York

Status: Fully Legal

New York this spring became the 15th state to legalize cannabis for recreational use, passing some of the most progressive legislation in the nation. The new law allows adults 21 and over to possess up to three ounces of flower, grow three plants per person and six per household at home, and to smoke weed anywhere cigarettes are permitted (a first for any state). It also includes a host of restorative justice provisions, including the automatic expungement of records for those convicted of low-level offenses and ear-marking tax revenue for a community reinvestment fund. Some have speculated that Governor Andrew Cuomo agreed to some of the measures he’d resisted in the past because of the rash of sexual assault allegations he was facing. But however it happened, it happened, and the nation’s fourth-most-populous state legalizing cannabis — and doing so in a way that aims to make whole the communities most affected by the war on drugs — is a landmark achievement.

North Carolina

Status: Low-THC Products Medically Legal

Cannabis is illegal in North Carolina, but some are optimistic that a medicinal bill could pass soon. In April, Sen. Bill Rabon, one of the top Republicans in the state Senate, introduced the Compassionate Care Act, which would legalize cannabis for certain medicinal uses. Meanwhile, a poll conducted by Elon University in February found that a majority of residents support legalizing cannabis for adult use, while 73 percent support legalizing the drug for medicinal use.

North Dakota

Status: Medically Legal

It took a couple of tries for North Dakota to get medical marijuana — a ballot initiative failed in 2012 before one finally passed in 2016. For recreational pot, it’s proving to be even tougher. An initiative made it to the ballot in 2018, but it was rejected by almost 60 percent of voters. Earlier this year, some were optimistic that HB 1420, which passed the House, might bring full legalization, but the Senate shut that plan down just weeks later. Days later, the body also blocked an effort to get legalization onto the 2022 ballot. Maybe fourth time will be the charm? 

Ohio

Status: Medically Legal

Since Ohio legalized medical weed in 2016, 160,000 people have enrolled as patients. Weed is technically decriminalized in the state — less than 100 grams is a misdemeanor — but local jurisdictions (including Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland) have reduced the penalties even more, or gotten rid of them all together. Full legalization failed on a ballot initiative in 2015, but a new bill, which would fully decriminalize both the possession and cultivation of pot, was introduced in March. 

Oklahoma

Status: Medically Legal

The award for hottest cannabis market in the country goes to… Oklahoma? Though the western state may not seem like an obvious choice — it doesn’t have California’s rolling farmland, or New York’s sheer demand for the product, it does have a history of seriously harsh drug laws — its medical marijuana market, which was established after a 2018 ballot initiative, started strong and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. It’s in part due to the fact that licenses only cost $2,500 (they can run into the high thousands in some states) and in part because there’s no limit on those licenses. Procuring a recommendation from a doctor is no problem, either — one in 13 adults in Oklahoma have a card. “They’ve literally done what no other state has done,” one dispensary owner told Politico last year. “Free-enterprise system, open market, wild wild west.” 

Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman (seen here, his flag collection) has become a national figure in the fight to end prohibition.

Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Pennsylvania

Status: Medically Legal

Pennsylvania seems primed for legalization. The state has had a medical marijuana program for five years, which has over half a million registered patients and caregivers; polling suggests two-thirds of voters support adult-use. In addition, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman has become a national, vocal advocate of legalization. “I actually don’t use marijuana,” he told Rolling Stone last year. “But I think any adult should be able to — legally, safely, taxed — and not label them a criminal. We need to expunge all criminal convictions. If there is anybody serving jail time for a marijuana conviction, get them out immediately.” (It also doesn’t hurt that New York and New Jersey both passed legalization measures this year). Things are looking hopeful: In February, a bipartisan pair of state senators announced a bill that would legalize cannabis in the state — the first time a Republican lawmaker has sponsored such legislation. 

Rhode Island

Status: Medically Legal

Legalization will probably happen for Rhode Island this year. In March, leaders in the Senate put forward a bill, and days later, Governor Dan McKee announced his proposal as part of the 2022 budget. They both call for the legalization of marijuana for adults 21 and over, establishment of licensing procedures, and both address giving back to the communities torn apart by the war on drugs. The big difference is when it comes to home-grow: The legislature’s bill would allow for six plants per adult; the Governor’s bill allows for none. 

South Carolina

Status: CBD Medically Legal

All cannabis is illegal in deep-red South Carolina, but one Republican lawmaker is doing all he can to pass a medicinal marijuana bill. Sen. Tom Davis in April threatened to hold all other legislation hostage if his colleagues tried to block his medicinal bill. “If there are some up on the Senate floor that are still in this reefer madness, drug war mentality and block and stand in the way of this bill, I will exercise my rights as a senator to respond in kind to every single other bill on this calendar,” he said. At least one of Davis’s Republican colleagues has said he will block the legislation, but in doing so he’d be going against the will of the people. A poll conducted earlier this year found that 72 percent of South Carolinians are in favor of medicinal cannabis. 

South Dakota

Status: Fully Illegal (For Now)

South Dakota may be one of the most conservative states in the nation, but in November its residents voted in favor of an initiative to legalize cannabis for medicinal use and an initiative to legalize it recreationally. It’s not that easy, though. Republican officials like Governor Krisi Noem have been fighting both initiatives. It looks like a medical program is going to take off eventually, but in January a state circuit judge ruled the adult-use initiative was unconstitutional. Advocates are appealing the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

Tennessee

Status: CBD Medically Legal

Things aren’t going great for pot in Tennessee. A medical marijuana bill passed in 2014, but because of stringent requirements — basically, the involvement of federally funded institutions that couldn’t legally be involved — the program fell apart. A year later, they changed it to allow qualifying patients to bring products in from other states (which is, of course, also against the law) and in 2015 modified it again to specify those products had to be extremely low-THC — essentially just CBD products. A new bill, which is progressing in the legislature, could expand the selection for patients: though they will not be allowed to smoke or vape the products, those with severe diseases (cancer, AIDS, etc.) will be permitted a 30-day supply. They’ll still have to figure out where to get it, though, as the law doesn’t permit any pot to be grown in-state.

Texas

Status: Low-THC Products Medically Legal

Texas is tough on cannabis. Arrests are now declining, but as recently as 2018 the state arrested nearly 100,000 people for cannabis-related offenses. There have been some recent efforts to bring about reform, most notably a bill to decriminalize that passed through a House committee in April, but for now, the drug is fully illegal. Texas does allow for the medicinal use of low-THC products, but only for a narrow set of intractable conditions.

Utah

Status: Medically Legal

Though Utah has legalized medical weed, it was a hard road getting there — and it ended in a more conservative bill than advocates had hoped. The Church of Latter Day Saints, a powerful entity in the largely Mormon state, wasn’t sold on medical marijuana. The plant was added to their list of banned intoxicants in 1915, and it wasn’t until 2016 that they even came around on CBD oil. In 2018, as a voter initiative made its way to the ballot, the church stepped up with a counter offer, striking things like home-grow from the deal. Voters passed the initial version, but lawmakers enacted the more restrictive law. Fourteen dispensaries have since opened across the state, but don’t expect adult-use pot anytime soon — the church remains staunchly against the recreational use of basically any substance, including marijuana.  

A weed grows in Montpelier, Vermont.

Matthew Romei/Vermont Capitol Police/AP

Vermont

Status: Fully Legal

In 2018, Vermont became the first state to legalize cannabis for adult use via the state legislature. Adults 21 and over are permitted to possess up to one ounce of flower, five grams of THC concentrate, and grow six plants. But it’s still illegal to sell it … for now. Lawmakers last year passed a tax-and-regulate bill, and a retail market is projected to be up in running by spring 2022. It’s about time. It is the Green Mountain State, after all.

Virginia

Status: Fully Legal

This April, Virginia became the first state in the South to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Initially, the bill was expected to go into effect in 2024 — but Governor Ralph Northam pushed that up to July 1st, 2021. Don’t expect any dispensaries cropping up anytime soon, though; it could take years for the commercial infrastructure for legal weed in the state to roll out. (Part of this has to do with the bill’s strong emphasis on social justice, so it will take time to dole out the licenses fairly.) In the meantime, as of July, residents will be able to grow up to four cannabis plants and legally possess an ounce of weed, and medical patients can go to one of four dispensaries in the state. 

Washington

Status: Fully Legal

Cannabis has been fully legal in Washington state since 2012. There haven’t been many complaints. Governor Jay Inslee earlier this year touted how well the program has been doing. “Our experience in Washington has been uniformly positive on any way you score this — from a reduction of unnecessary law enforcement and criminal activity that really wasn’t benefiting our community, on creating jobs in a new industry, on giving people more freedom in their personal decision making with no demonstrable, horrendous health impacts,” he said. “By any measure, it’s been a very successful enterprise.”

Washington, D.C

Status: Fully Legal

Cannabis is fully legal in Washington, D.C., but there are some restrictions. It’s still illegal on federal land, of which there is a lot in the nation’s capital, and it’s still illegal to sell it. The small handful of dispensaries in the district only sell to medicinal patients. Recreational dispensaries are coming, though, and the first sales are expected in late 2021 or 2022

West Virginia

Status: Medically Legal

West Virginia had three bills introduced in the 2021 session — two to legalize pot, and one to decriminalize it. None of them made it to the floor, but will be carried over into 2022. They are, however, rolling out a medical program this year — though it was signed into law in 2017, patients only became eligible to register this February. Growers, processors, and dispensaries have already been issued licenses, but there are still a few more hurdles before the program fully rolls out — such as figuring out who will test the product for fungus, pesticides, and potency before it goes to market. 

Wisconsin

Status: CBD Medically Legal

Wisconsin may be a swing state, but cannabis is fully illegal and the laws prohibiting it are strict. Democratic Governor Tony Evers has pushed for full legalization, but the largely conservative state legislature, so far, hasn’t been having it.

Wyoming

Status: CBD Medically Legal

Cannabis is fully illegal in Wyoming, and the penalties for violations are strict. The state’s cannabis-related arrest rate is perennially among the highest in the nation. An ACLU study found that in 2018 black people were 5.2 times as likely to be arrested for cannabis, the 9th highest rate in America. Wyoming is also the only state to make being “under the influence” of cannabis illegal. Legalization has begun to generate some bipartisan momentum, though. “We are now discussing a topic that we’ve all avoided for many years, Republican Judiciary Committee Chairman Jared Olsen said recently in debating adult-use legislation. 

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