The recreational marijuana use state list is continuing to expand across the United States and the US territories. Although many states are continuing to legalize marijuana for medical and/or recreational use, it is still federally illegal and is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. 26 states have decriminalized low-level marijuana possession offense and many of these states have reclassified the possession of small amounts as a civil offense. Currently, the states where recreational use is legal are Arizona, Alaska, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Michigan, Vermont, Illinois, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota, New York, Virginia, New Mexico, and Connecticut. Furthermore, it is legal in Washington D.C. and Guam. The newest states to legalize it are New York (March 2021), Virginia (April 2021), New Mexico (April 2021), and Connecticut (June 2021). California has the largest cannabis market in the world by annual sales, with about 27% of legal cannabis sales in the U.S. in 2020.
Just because it is legal in these states does not mean marijuana is a free for all where everyone can purchase whatever they want. Every state has its own process in order to obtain a license to sell or cultivate. Each state also has a regulation sales tax, the amount of cannabis one person can hold at a time, and if adults/patients can cultivate their own plants at home. The newer-legalization states have also been continuing to set up plans, rules, and protocols in order to make sure the marijuana industry runs smoothly. For example, in Virginia, the legalization started July 1, 2021, allowing for adults 21 and over to possess up to 1 ounce of recreational marijuana. Similarly, in New Mexico, adults (21+) can grow and possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana as of June 21, but the recreational sales do not start until April 1, 2022. As for Connecticut, recreational usage takes effect on July 1.
According to a national poll by Gallup in 2020, 68% of respondents believe marijuana should be legalized nationally. In some states, patients with qualifying conditions cannot purchase medical marijuana because their state has not legalized it yet. However, they cannot go to another state to purchase it because transporting marijuana across state lines is a federal crime. This is just one of the major issues advocates for marijuana legalization have discussed with government officials.
The following states have legalized medical marijuana, but not recreational marijuana: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia. South Dakota had a vote in November 2020 where the residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana, but the state’s Supreme Court struck it down.
Overall, as many states continue to legalize medical marijuana, the legalization of recreational use is also sweeping across the nation. The economic, medical, and recreational benefits are major factors in the legalization process. The majority of Americans support the national legalization of marijuana for recreational use.