All the states where marijuana is legal — and 5 more that just voted to legalize it
Marijuana legalization is spreading around the US.
Since 2012, 15 states and Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana for adults over the age of 21. And 36 states have legalized medical marijuana — meaning that a majority of Americans now have some form of access to marijuana, whether medically or recreationally.
Four more states — New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota — just voted to legalize recreational cannabis, though it won’t become legal immediately. On top of that, voters in Mississippi backed the creation of a medical cannabis program.
Though Canada legalized marijuana federally in 2018, the US has not followed suit, forcing states to chart their own courses. As it stands, marijuana is still considered an illegal Schedule I drug by the US federal government. The House in September was set to vote on a bill to legalize marijuana and expunge the records of those convicted under previous laws, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, though the vote was punted to after the election.
Joe Biden’s projected victory in the presidential election could give marijuana a bigger boost in the US.
Biden has said he would support federal decriminalization of the drug. Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris sponsored a previous version of the MORE Act in the Senate. A Democratic administration would sign that — or a similar legalization bill — into law if passed in the House and Senate.
Control of the Senate remains unclear. If Republicans maintain control, federal legalization is unlikely, because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is vocally opposed.
House Democrats included a provision in the recent stimulus bill, the SAFE Banking Act, that allows cannabis companies to access banking and financial services much like any other company so they don’t have to rely on cash transactions. It remains to be seen whether it will be included in the final legislation.
Despite the political back-and-forth, most Americans want legal marijuana, according to recent polls. Sixty-seven percent of Americans polled by Pew Research said marijuana should be legal, with only 32% in opposition.
All the states where marijuana is legal:
This article was first published in January 2018 and has been updated with new information about where cannabis is legal. Melia Russell contributed to an earlier version of this report.
Marijuana is legal for all adults in 11 states, and for medical purposes in 34. Five more states just voted to legalize it.