Although 2021 was rough—coronavirus devastating our economy and public health, an economic recession, and the death of Legendary singer Kenny Rogers (geez, talk about knowing when to fold em…) — there is a silver lining to all of this apocalypse talk.
States across the country are continuing to pass laws legalizing cannabis to various degrees. In the past year alone, Arizona passed Prop 207 legalizing adult recreation use. Montana has passed Initiative 190, allowing recreational dispensaries to open at the first of the year. New Jersey, the 14th state to legalize cannabis for medical use, has now passed recreational consumption laws. South Dakota, a state historically strict on cannabis, has passed a law allowing for the medical use of cannabis products. These are all positive gains for the industry and consumers alike. Activists must continue to press onward, pushing for federal legalization and exonerations of the countless charges that are no longer illegal due to newly passed laws.
At the start of COVID-19, people stocked up essentials like beans, toilet paper, guns, and legal cannabis. In California and other states that have legalized the herb, cannabis dispensaries have been labeled essential to the community during these trying times. They have remained open when other businesses were forced to close. Some of us can legally stock up in legal cannabis states on all of our favorite strains. But many are still waiting for this right. Let’s take a look at the next states to legalize weed and join the green revolution. The incentive for states to legalize weed should be a no-brainer — less “criminal activity” and more sales tax revenue. Let’s look at the opportunities lawmakers and voters have to give their citizens access to the herb as we approach the general election.
Arkansas voters are making strong efforts to legalize adult-use cannabis in their state. Similar to Missouri and Maryland, Arkansas 2020 and 2021 efforts to get a voter ballot measure to legalize cannabis were halted due to the COVID-19 outbreak. They’ve been gearing up for a strong push in 2022, and if they can get the 89,000 signatures required, they will land a measure on the ballot. The proposed measure would allow retail cannabis sales to those who are 21 and over, allow for home-grows of up to twelve plants, and exonerate certain convicted criminals whose crimes were decriminalized by the new law. Arkansas residents should stay tuned and plan to vote if they want to play their part in the real possibility of legalized cannabis in their state.
Medical cannabis consumption has been legal in the state of Delaware since 2011. A law was filed in 2021 intended to legalize adult-use cannabis; however, it has yet to be brought to the floor for an official vote. Cannabis advocates are hoping that the law will make it to the floor for a vote in 2022. Delaware residents and cannabis advocates should continue to reach out to their state legislature, urging them to put the law to a vote this year.
Cannabis advocates had two ballot initiatives that were blocked in the summer by The Supreme Court of Florida. They cited an issue with the language of the initiatives that caused their disapproval. They did not specifically mention the conflict with federal law or clearly outline possession limits for cannabis consumers. This year they are coming back even stronger with a push to pass a ballot measure that would legalize cannabis in their state. However, they will face increased difficulty this time around due to tightening restrictions on ballot initiative contributions in a conservative effort to halt the legalization of cannabis. Florida residents shouldn’t lose hope, there is strong support to get a measure approved for voters’ ballots, and advocates of the cause are highly determined.
The state of Ohio has a strong chance of getting a measure passed in the near future that would legalize adult cannabis consumption, allow for the possession of 2.5 ounces, the cultivation of 6 plants, and would expunge the record of many nonviolent cannabis offenders. Currently, the path to legalization in the state is being approached from two fronts. There is a bill meant to legalize cannabis in the state legislature, and advocates are working on gathering the roughly 130,000 signatures needed to get a measure on the ballot to let the voters decide whether or not to legalize cannabis. This dual front approach should help to increase the likelihood of some measure being approved sooner rather than later, and Ohio residents should remain hopeful for a legalized near future.
In 2018 the state of Oklahoma passed a law legalizing medicinal cannabis. It is one of the most lenient medical marijuana measures in the country, allowing almost anyone to receive the required ID to purchase from in-state dispensaries. The new measure filed for 2022 will legalize recreational cannabis consumption for adults over the age of 21, allow for the possession of up to 8 ounces, the cultivation of 12 plants, and aim to replace the current regulatory agency in an attempt to have better consistency in state-regulated cannabis. Oklahoma residents should stay hopeful for a possible future vote on recreational legalization.
The state of Pennsylvania hopes to capitalize off of its neighboring states New Jersey and New York’s move to legalize recreational cannabis for adults. Pennsylvania residents who consume cannabis could see a law passing quite soon; legalization has statewide support from some of its highest placed officials. In fact, the governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, has come out in favor of making it a priority issue for state legislature and intends to bring the issue to the state’s voters.
Maryland residents have been advocating for adult-use legalization all of 2021. Though unsuccessful in passing any legislature legalizing recreational cannabis use, legislators and voters are confident that they will bring a proposition to vote on in 2022. Adrienne Jones, the Speaker of the House of Delegates and leader of the Democratic majority, has promised voters in her state that she would be bringing the issue to a vote on the 2022 ballot. A survey done by Goucher College in March revealed that about two-thirds of Maryland voters want full legalization, and over half of the state’s Republican voters are supporters of legalization. This could be the perfect storm for Maryland, leading to legalization.
Missouri voters are pushing hard for legalization in 2022 after COVID-19 had halted their hopes to get a law passed any sooner. Activists have been approved to start gathering the 171,000 signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot. Missouri voters and Legal Missouri are looking to vote on a law that would include the legalization of recreational cannabis use, home cultivation of cannabis plants, and immediate expungement of crimes decriminalized by the proposed measure.
Lawmakers in the state legislature of Wyoming were unsuccessful in passing a measure legalizing adult-use cannabis in 2020. However, cannabis advocates have received approval to begin the process of gathering signatures. Once they have received enough signatures, the measure will be able to be placed on the ballot and voted on by Wyoming residents. The best thing supporters can do at this moment is offer their signature for the measure to be brought to a vote and cast their vote in support when the time to pass the law has come.
As more states continue to pass laws legalizing the consumption of cannabis, others are witnessing the success that is being had and forced into considering laws of their own. This increased interest in cannabis legalization nationwide means more states are making surprising decisions to pass their own laws ending the prohibition of cannabis products. While the states mentioned here show strong promise of legalization in the near future, it by no means that another state couldn’t make a fast play on legal cannabis. Almost every state in the country is working on some type of cannabis law, and it is safe to say with the current state of legalization, anything is possible.