Marijuana Legalization: Check Out Is Marijuana Legal in Your State?

Marijuana Legalization

Despite the fact that marijuana is permitted for medicinal use in 37 states and Washington, DC, as well as recreationally in 18, federal law prohibits its use, possession, or sale.

This has resulted in a substantial divergence, which a growing number of Politicians are ready to address: Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, Senate Finance Committee Chair Sen. Ron Wyden, and Sen. Cory Booker encouraged their colleagues to help develop legislation ending the federal ban and bringing state-sanctioned dispensaries out of legal limbo in a letter sent last month.

Legal cannabis sales in the United States reached about $15 billion in 2021, and are expected to top $25 billion in the next three years. Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, and Virginia — the first Southern state to do so — all enacted laws completely legalizing marijuana for recreational use in 2021. New Jersey started accepting applications for dispensaries on Tuesday, and Gov. Phil Murphy said the first stores might open this summer.

Here’s all you need to know about which states have legalized marijuana, the status of federal legalization initiatives, and how Americans feel about it.

What is the federal law on marijuana?

The Drug Enforcement Agency still defines cannabis, often known as marijuana, weed, pot, and other synonyms, as a Schedule I drug, “having no currently acknowledged medicinal purpose and a significant potential for abuse,” according to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Marijuana cultivation, possession, and distribution are all illegal under federal law. (Heroin and LSD are other Schedules I substances, while cocaine is a Schedule II drug.)

What is the federal law on marijuana?
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President Barack Obama authorized the Justice Department in 2013 to alter federal marijuana enforcement rules to defer to state authorities in states that have legalized marijuana, “based on assurances that those states will implement an appropriately rigorous regulatory framework.”

This instruction, known as the Cole Memorandum, was repealed in 2018 by Jeff Sessions, President Donald Trump’s attorney general.

Proponents of marijuana legalization have urged President Joe Biden to order current US Attorney General Merrick Garland to revive the Cole Memorandum.

Which states have legalized medical marijuana?

Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia are among the 37 states that have legalized medical marijuana as of February.

In addition, medical marijuana has been approved in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands.

Each jurisdiction has its own set of rules concerning what conditions cannabis can be prescribed for, in what doses, and how qualified residents are granted medical marijuana permits.

After a 2021 measure was withdrawn off the state Senate’s calendar, lawmakers in Kansas are ready to enact medical marijuana legislation. The bill, which is currently being debated in the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, would allow doctors to suggest cannabis to patients suffering from chronic pain and specified illnesses such as cancer, glaucoma, ulcerative colitis, and Parkinson’s disease.

Which states have legalized marijuana for recreational use?

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington have all legalized adult use of marijuana for recreational (and medical) purposes.

Which states have legalized marijuana for recreational use?
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Cannabis is also allowed for recreational use in Washington, D.C., Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

South Dakota voters approved a 2020 amendment to legalize recreational cannabis use with 54 percent of the vote, but the state Supreme Court overturned it a year later after a lawsuit led by Republican Gov. Kristi Noem.

Medical marijuana is allowed in Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. CBD (cannabidiol) products with low levels of THC, the major psychoactive element in cannabis, are often less than 3%.

Most legal dispensaries, on the other hand, sell goods with THC concentrations of 25% or higher.

What’s the difference between legalization and decriminalization?

Possession of a small amount of marijuana was first decriminalized in several states that legalized marijuana.

In general, cannabis “legalization” refers to the passage of legislation that permits the purchase, sale, and possession of marijuana, usually with restrictions on the consumer’s age and the amount purchased.

Decriminalization, on the other hand, usually implies that breaking certain marijuana regulations can result in fines or other penalties but not criminal charges or jail time.

While neither Nebraska nor North Carolina has legalized marijuana for recreational or therapeutic use, both have decriminalized minor marijuana offenses.

Possession of half an ounce or less of marijuana is a Class 3 misdemeanor in North Carolina, punishable by a $200 fine, and “any sentence of imprisonment imposed shall be deferred.”

Possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is penalized in Nebraska by a maximum fine of $300 and the possibility of completing a drug education course. A second conviction is treated as a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500. Convictions after that are misdemeanors, with a maximum fine of $500 and a possible sentence of seven days in jail.

In 2014, the US Virgin Islands decriminalized recreational marijuana, lowering the penalty for possession of less than an ounce from a $5,000 fine and a year in prison to a maximum fine of $200 and no jail.

Is cannabis legislation being considered in Congress?

As more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana, lawmakers are scrambling to reconcile federal prohibitions with state regulations.

Senate Democrats plan to submit legislation this spring that would end the federal prohibition on marijuana and enable states to set their own rules.

Schumer, Booker, and Wyden, Democrats from New York, New Jersey, and Oregon, respectively, encouraged their Senate colleagues to participate in the drafting process to assist finish this legislation in a letter dated Feb. 10. Senators who have dealt with “the obstacles and realities of legalization in their respective states” are asked to respond to the letter, as are the leaders of relevant committees.

“As additional states legalize cannabis for both adult and medical use, the federal government will take an increasingly vital role,” the letter continues. “Hundreds of millions of Americans live in states where cannabis is legal in some form, despite the fact that it is still banned at the federal level.”

The senators said the disparity “breeds confusion and uncertainty” and raises concerns about everything from criminal justice reform to small company growth and public safety.

Last year, the three introduced a discussion draught of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which aims to “correct past wrongs and ensure that the federal government keeps pace with state-level progress.”

Schumer stated in a February press conference that he hoped to file a formal bill as early as April to repeal federal bans and allow states to set their own rules.

“As the majority leader, I have the power to determine priorities. For me, this is a top priority “According to Bloomberg, Schumer stated.

What is the purpose of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act?

According to the discussion draught, the CAOA would eliminate “the failing federal prohibition of cannabis” if implemented, while Congress still has to work out the details.

The bill would have federal nonviolent marijuana offenses automatically expunged and would allow anyone serving time in federal prison for nonviolent marijuana crimes to ask for resentencing.

What is the purpose of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act?

It also proposes allocating federal tax money from legal cannabis sales to a fund “to reinvest in the areas most devastated by the failed ‘War on Drugs,'” as well as working to level the playing field for entrepreneurs of color who face barriers to entry.

The act allows state-licensed cannabis enterprises to use financial services like bank accounts, loans, and credit card transactions, and it eliminates discrimination in federal public benefits for medicinal marijuana patients and adult recreational users.

Attempts to modify federal marijuana legislation have also been made.

Other recent bills aimed at altering federal marijuana regulations include: The House of Representatives enacted the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act in December 2020, marking the first time either chamber had authorized eliminating federal marijuana prohibition. The MORE Act, like the CAOA, would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act’s schedule, expunge prior convictions, and tax cannabis products to fund criminal justice reform and social justice initiatives.

In 2020, then-Sen. Kamala Harris of California, a Democrat, proposed a similar bill in the Senate, but it was never taken up for debate.

Rep. Nancy Mace, a Republican from South Carolina, sponsored the States Reform Act in November 2021, which would decriminalize marijuana on a federal level, falling short of full legalization but giving states more regulatory autonomy.

Both Mace’s measure and the MORE Act have received vocal backing from Amazon.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act, which would provide state-licensed marijuana firms access to banking services, was passed by the House on Feb. 4 as an amendment to America Competes Act of 2022. The bill was originally presented in 2019 by Colorado Democrat Rep. Ed Perlmutter. He is optimistic that it will pass the Senate this session.

“I believe this is the law that will break the ice,” Perlmutter told Yahoo News. “Other items can be added or advocated for over the following few months or years.”

Is President Joe Biden in favor of marijuana legalization?

“Decriminalize cannabis use and automatically expunge prior convictions,” then-candidate Joe Biden stated during the 2020 presidential campaign.

“No one should be in jail because of cannabis usage,” according to Biden’s campaign website.

Biden will “support the legalization of cannabis for medical uses, leave decisions about legalization for recreational use to the states, and reschedule cannabis as a schedule II narcotic so researchers can study its positive and negative effects” if elected president, according to the website.

While Biden cannot overturn federal marijuana prohibitions on his own, he can give amnesty to persons who have been convicted of nonviolent marijuana-related offenses in federal court. He could also revive Obama-era Justice Department instructions not to prosecute minor marijuana violations or meddle with state marijuana legislation.

Biden might potentially support the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act or similar legislation.

In December, Alex Shepard of the New Republic said, “Biden and his party both need political wins, and easing marijuana regulations — or totally legalizing the drug — is enormously popular.”

What are Americans’ thoughts on marijuana legalization?

According to a Pew Research poll conducted in 2021, 91 percent of Americans believe cannabis should be legalized in some form, with 31 percent believing it should be allowed for medical purposes and 60 percent believing it should be permitted for both medical and recreational purposes.

Only 8% of those polled believe marijuana should not be permitted at all.

Decriminalization has bipartisan support, with 47 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents preferring it for both medicinal and recreational use, and another 40 percent favoring it for medical use only.

In contrast, 72 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents support legalization for both medical and recreational purposes, with another 23 percent supporting it just for medical purposes.

The shift has occurred over time, with 70% of Americans aged 18 to 29 supporting legalization for recreational and medical purposes, compared to 46% of those aged 65 and older.

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