In the United States, there has been a growing campaign to legalize marijuana since the late twentieth century. California made headlines in 1996 when it became the first state in the United States to decriminalize marijuana for medical purposes, and medical marijuana was eventually legalized in other states. Then, in 2012, recreational marijuana was legalized in Washington and Colorado through ballot initiatives. In 2019, more than 30 states in the United States have legalized some marijuana use, despite the fact that it was still illegal on the federal level. This begs the question of why marijuana was ever made illegal.
Marijuana for individuals over the age of 21 has been legal in 18 states and Washington, DC since 2012. Furthermore, medical marijuana is allowed in 37 states, implying that the majority of Americans have access to cannabis, whether for medical or recreational purposes.
Legalization was passed in three states recently: New Mexico, Virginia, and South Dakota, and the legislation went into effect in late June and early July.
In the November elections in South Dakota, medical and recreational cannabis ballot proposals were approved. However, it appears that only the medical program is up and running, since recreational marijuana faces legal difficulties.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico signed a legalization bill into law in April. Although state citizens can officially produce and possess marijuana as of June 29, retail sales are not expected to commence until next year.
In April, the Virginia legislature passed legislation legalizing marijuana. The law went into effect on July 1, but marijuana sales in the state won’t start until 2024. The Connecticut legislature legalized cannabis for adults aged 21 and over on June 18.
On March 31, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law legalizing marijuana. His decision came shortly after New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy approved legislation making marijuana legal in the state.
New Jersey, along with Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota, was one of four states where recreational cannabis was approved by voters in November. Mississippi voters authorized the establishment of a medical cannabis program.
In May, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey approved a bill allowing medicinal marijuana in the state, but patients aren’t anticipated to be able to use it until next year.
Some states have yet to iron out the intricacies of medicinal or recreational legislation established through ballot initiatives. As a result, Insider excludes South Dakota from its list of states where marijuana is legal for recreational use. Mississippi’s medical program, however, has experienced issues since the election.
In 2018, Canada legalized marijuana on a federal level, but the United States has not followed suit, leaving states to forge their own paths. Marijuana is still classified as an illegal Schedule I drug in the United States.