State of the Union: Where Each State Stands on Cannabis Legalization
The United States is home to the red, white and blue. In recent years, green has been staking its claim to be the fourth color America runs on. With cannabis bringing in scores of cash, it has a justifiable claim, and 2018 sure helped move things along.
Currently, 38 states and the District of Columbia have some form of marijuana legislation on the books. 2018 saw advancements occur at the polls and in the state courthouses. With so much change going on across the nation, the team at IONIC felt like catching you up in case any of 2018’s exciting news slipped by.
Major Cannabis Legislation in 2018
Cannabis legislation kicked off with a bang in 2018. On January 22, Vermont became the ninth state to legalize recreational consumption. Instead of letting voters decide, lawmakers took the lead on the measure, becoming the first state to do so. Today, citizens 21 and over can possess cannabis and are allowed limited cultivation as well.
At the polls, November saw three states usher in sweeping marijuana change. Potentially making the most significant impact is Michigan, where voters supported a legalization measure at 56 points to 44. The win allowed Michigan to become the first Midwestern state to have recreational legislation on the books. While some regulations remained hazy, new laws went into effect on December 6th. However, sales won’t begin until 2020. If successful, many expect Michigan to pull in scores of cash and influence neighboring states to consider similar measures.
Utah voted Proposition 2 into law this past November as well. When it became law this past December, its replacement, the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, passed through state Congress with most of the disagreements concerning legislative issues having been smoothed out. Governor Gary has a Herbert has also committed to implementing the law as quickly as possible. Already, legislation is being passed to limit access (including dropping the allowed number of dispensaries from 15 to 7) and Utah has a big fight ahead of them to keep it accessible to its people.
On the same night, Missouri passed Amendment 2 to bring medical marijuana to the state. With citizens voting in favor of the measure at around 65.5%, the highly regulated market serves as another glimmer of cannabis hope in the Midwest. With the law fresh on the books, one state lawmaker wants to go further. Early this December, Rep. Brandon Ellington pre-filed a bill which would allow adults 21 and over to grow, possess and consume cannabis.
More last minute potential lies in New Jersey. The state could still bookend 2018 nicely after making significant legislative progress in late November. After months of will they, won’t they, the Garden State’s recreational legalization bill is now moving through Congress. The bill is expected to be passed at the end of 2018 or early in the new year. As of December 11, 2018, cannabis delivery is now legal in the state of California — a huge step in the right direction for all California brands.
Where Does Each State Stand on Cannabis?
Using the helpful map provided by the National Cannabis Industry Association, we can break marijuana access down into four categories:
Adult Use (Recreational)
Adult use states allow citizens to possess and consume cannabis, and in some cases grow. As we mentioned above, Michigan and Vermont joined the ranks of adult use states in 2018. Meanwhile, Massachusetts began sales of marijuana in November. Additionally, New Jersey could still sneak in before the new year to become number 11.
Legislation can vary by adult use state. That includes in Michigan, where citizens can carry more cannabis than any other legal state. In other states such as Colorado and California, legislation continues to be updated on a somewhat frequent basis.
As of publishing this piece, these ten states are where adult use is allowed:
- Washington, D.C.
Most of the states currently allow for a medical cannabis program of some sorts. These laws vary by state just as adult use laws tend to. Most rule variances tend to concern the sale of flower and edibles. Other common differences center on patient job and privacy protections.
Some states, including New York and Illinois, initially faced enrollment issues due to varying legislative reasons. In both locations, its programs were initially considered one of the more restrictive in the nation. However, thanks to expanded qualifying conditions and enrollment measures, these states have seen considerable improvement.
Currently, the following states have a medical cannabis program:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- West Virginia
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- New Hampshire
States with limited programs tend to allow for high-CBD, low-THC oils or a similar offering. In Virginia, THC-A is also allowable while Tennessee only allows low-THC oil. Some programs are incredibly restrictive as well. For example, in Texas, its regulations currently only allow patients with intractable epilepsy to enroll. States with limited cannabis access are:
- South Carolina
- North Carolina
While outright prohibition is waning in the U.S., four states still have no THC laws on its books. They include South Dakota, who has turned down cannabis ballot measures twice in the past, and Nebraska, who sued its neighbor Colorado over alleged cannabis diversion. Meanwhile, in 2015, Idaho became the only state to veto CBD legislation. These states have high cannabis arrests, and no sign of backing down.
The five states currently banning cannabis are:
- South Dakota
With lawmakers across the aisle starting to warm to cannabis, we could see more limited states expand into medical. More so, medical and limited states could very well move into adult use states as neighbors begin to follow suit. With exciting developments in the Midwest and Northeast, large swathes of the U.S. are first-hand witnesses to the cannabis market’s evolution. While much more progress is to be made, 2018 gave us a year of exciting developments. Here’s to more in the new year and beyond!