Though cannabis remains federally illegal, state-wide legalization has spread since Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational cannabis in 2012. Other states have slowly followed suit. In fact, 18 states plus Washington D.C. now have legal adult-use cannabis. Many states are close to full legalization, and have decriminalized or legalized medical cannabis. Others, like Texas and Georgia, are behind and only allow medical cannabis or CBD Oil to be sold.
Then of course there are still states like Alabama and South Carolina where cannabis is still completely illegal in all forms. Though that’s not to say residents or legislators in each state aren’t trying. For the past two years, the Alabama Senate has passed medical cannabis legislation, reports the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). The Senate passed the bill, SB 46, again this year, which goes back to House legislators. Polling shows 75% of Alabama residents support the bill. But it still has to make it past the House.
Additionally, there are a few states like Montana and South Dakota where legislation to legalize cannabis is extremely close to coming to fruition. In November voters in South Dakota voted to legalize recreational and medical use, according to MPP. Measures are set to start July 1st, 2021. But opponents have filed a lawsuit attempting to overturn the legalization.
While the U.S. has made progress in terms of cannabis reform, there is still a long way to go. For example, there are still an estimated 40,000+ people in prison right now for cannabis convictions, and in many states possession of even a small amount of cannabis can land one in prison. In Indiana, for instance, possession of one joint can put someone in prison for a year and force offenders to pay a $5,000 fine, reports Civilized.
Legalization is Looming
But there is still hope that cannabis will become federally legal. According to Marijuana Moment, the Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, has announced that he plans to re-introduce his bill to legalize cannabis and promote social equity this year. The bill passed the House last year but could not get past the republican-controlled U.S. Senate. With democrats controlling both the House and Senate this year, there is a good possibility they could federally legalize it this year or the next.
To see what states are legal, which are not, and which are somewhere in the middle, checkout this interactive map.