Legal Cannabis States: What's Next in 2022?

Laws & Regulation

Legal Cannabis States – The journey so far

With New York having recently allowed recreational use of cannabis, we figured it’d be a good time to go back and take stock of where we are when it comes to legal cannabis states. How many states have legalized it so far?

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. Their books place marijuana in the same class as LSD, heroin, and other hard drugs. However, most Americans say this law is stale and loses touch with current realities about the global marijuana movement.

Consequently, the burgeoning ‘legalize it’ campaigns have recorded exponential success in most recent times. In the least, proponents of legal marijuana want the herb treated as a Schedule II drug, like oxycodone and Ritalin. Substances in this class are defined as drugs but with high chances of abuse.

In November 2020, Mississippi, Arizona, New Jersey, Montana, South Dakota voted massively in support of recreational/medical marijuana.

In these states, the legal cannabis push had gained an all-time high momentum in 2020, before the pandemic struck. Thankfully, as legal activities bounce back, the efforts are currently beefing up to revive the momentum and continue from where the legal cannabis processes stopped. Interestingly, first-time ever, some on-time marijuana-hostile states are reconsidering marijuana legalization.

Although the chances are promising, some speculators fear a repeat of cases where highly promising legal marijuana legislation processes hit the rocks across some states.

Understanding the US cannabis laws. A quick throwback

Since 1937, when the Marihuana Tax Act placed cannabis in the fed’s bad books, the plant remains banned federally – after over eight decades.

The current 1970 Controlled Substances Act – an update of the Marijuana Tax Act – [only] ‘modernized’ the prohibition. The law categorically places marijuana under the schedule I controlled substance class alongside hard drugs like LSD and heroin, which have high abuse potentials and no possible medical use.

Another supportive myth says cannabis may encourage a transition to other hard drugs, a concept widely branded as a “gateway drug.”

Anti-marijuana proponents also theorize a likely increase of teenage vulnerability to drug use. Extensive findings have dispelled these claims. First, marijuana has no lethal effect and has less withdrawal effect than alcohol. Also, relevant studies have long dispelled the gateway-drug propaganda. Besides, states with legal marijuana laws, so far, have not recorded any more significant marijuana use among teens. The rules had, by the 1970s, become a tool against political rivals and minorities. To date, four-times more blacks are likely victims of cannabis-related arrests.

Legal Cannabis and State laws

Remember that the cannabis laws vary across the US states – while some states legalize cannabis for either medicinal or recreational purposes, some recognize the herb for both. Despite the lingering federal anti-cannabis laws, voters across many states have voted massively for legal marijuana at the ballot. In the November 2020 election results, adult marijuana use won in 36 states and three territories, including DC.

Recreational Marijuana States

Delta Dispensary - Antioch, Ca - Best Dispensary in Antioch (Contra Costa County) - Recreational Marijuana
Photo by Yash Lucid from Pexels

So far, 17 states, DC, and three territories –Puerto Rico, Guam, and the United States Virgin Islands – allows marijuana for both medical and recreational intents.

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Virginia
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Medical Marijuana States

Twenty-one more states allow marijuana, but for medicinal purposes. Medical marijuana is inspired by Several studies which say cannabis contains hundreds of compounds that may help boosts euphoria and manage symptoms associated with HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and cancer.

Delta Dispensary - Antioch, Ca - Best Dispensary in Antioch (Contra Costa County)  - CBD
Photo by Binoid CBD from Pexels

Weed formulas also help manage chronic pain, nausea, and epileptic seizures, to mention but a few. Across these medical-cannabis-friendly territories, prescriptions are issued to prevent users from arrest. Again, the medical weed laws are on a state-to-state basis. While some states regulate cannabis farmers’ and manufacturers’ activities, others are somewhat ‘less concerned.’

Currently, medical marijuana is a thing across these US states:

  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Florida
  • Lousiana
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode island
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

Who next?

Delta Dispensary - Antioch, Ca - Best Dispensary in Antioch (Contra Costa County) - Next States
Photo by John-Mark Smith from Pexels

As political and public support for legal marijuana burgeons, lawmakers are under pressure to take necessary actions. Strong indicators say about 12 states may be approving legal marijuana soon. Though the chances seem lean for some, these eight states are about half-an-inch close to being enlisted among legal weed states.

  • Mexico
  • New York
  • Connecticut
  • Minnesota
  • Florida
  • Pennsylvania
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland

Legal cannabis – the perks

So far, legal cannabis jurisdictions have disproved most lingering cannabis myths held by anti-cannabis sponsors. Instead, reports  from these territories show some exciting benefits of cannabis-friendly laws, including:

  • Easy access to marijuana products
  • Low cost of marijuana
  • Increased tax revenues in tens of billions
  • Less traffic rules infringement
  • Improved cannabis farming and production practices
  • Additional job opportunities
  • Less racial victimization by law enforcement
  • Reduced activities of cartels and gangs
  • Reduced judicial costs spent on 663,000 cannabis-related annual arrests.


Pew research shows 66% of voters support adult marijuana use; a staggering 91% backs weed for medicals. So far, 16 states plus DC and Guam currently have legal cannabis laws and36 states allow marijuana for medicine. But for the ravaging virus, about five states would’ve joined the bandwagon in 2020. From recent happenings, Uncle Sam may soon dust itself from the past and take clues from marijuana-thriving states and countries – among many others, Canada comes to mind.

No items found.

Other blog posts