Cannabis is fully legalized in 18 states and permitted for medical use in 19 more. Here’s who might be next in 2022.
At this point, it’s almost easier to list the states that aren’t interested in progressing toward cannabis legalization.
Right now—recreationally speaking—cannabis is fully legalized in 18 states, plus the District of Columbia. Another 13 states and the US Virgin Islands have decriminalized its use. Mississippi just became the 37th state to legalize it for medical use.
So, we are well on our way to the majority of this country legalizing a Schedule 1 controlled substance, with the House of Representatives even voting on April 1 to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level.
What a time.
Who’s next to make it official? It’s hard to say for sure. With ongoing interruptions to grassroots campaigns and court sessions due to COVID-19, progress has been tricky. States like Hawaii and Arkansas have mounted passionate campaigns to accrue signatures and move legislators toward change, but obstacles like non-weed-friendly governors and disagreeable assemblies put the odds against them.
Below, you’ll find the six states with the best shot at legalizing recreational cannabis in 2022.
First state, 19th to legalize weed? Maybe. Delaware has an established and thriving medical marijuana program in place, positioning it well to develop an adult-use (a more neutral term for “recreational”) program off of that. The state’s already accustomed to the legal weed biz, as are the local politicians. On Jan. 26, 2022, the House Health and Human Development committee approved HB 305, a bill that would make cannabis legal for adults 21 and older, replacing prohibition with a system of regulation that focuses on public health and equity. The bill now awaits consideration before heading to the floor for a vote. Governor John Carney isn’t exactly advocating for legalization, but he’s never indicated that he’d refuse to sign off on a bill that made it to his desk.
Here’s another state that’s already got a medical program going, and if you’re caught with up to 10 grams, you’ll get the equivalent of a traffic ticket. The majority of the state is ready to move forward. According to a recent poll, 67% of Marylanders now support legalization, and state legislators are listening. Last summer, a group of delegates began strategizing what the regulatory structure could look like, and legislators are openly hoping to present the prospect of legalization to voters before the end of the year.
This is a weird one. Recreational cannabis was technically legalized in May 2021, but due to the legislative session adjourning two days later, the bill stalled in committee. That’s really the only reason Minnesota didn’t legalize weed last year. Fortunately, the legislature has reconvened and it is picking up where it left off. The Governor of Minnesota included funding to implement legalization in his annual budget request to lawmakers as well.
Influential organizations are working hard to make sure legalization makes it on the ballot this year. Multiple campaigns will lead to legalization bills if successful, and notably, most of them contain expungement stipulations for past cannabis offenses. They are going to have to clean up their licensing process to regain residents’ trust in their ability to run an ethical, economically useful adult use program. This headline about a recent study showing that nearly one out of every 10 jobs created in Missouri in 2021 came from the state’s medical marijuana industry is well-timed supporting evidence.
Although it didn’t include retail, the New Hampshire House of Representatives just overwhelmingly voted to legalize possession and home cultivation. That’s official! But New Hampshire is staying on this list. There’s six other cannabis proposals in the mix at the moment, and it seems possible a more comprehensive system with commercial retail and cultivation will get passed this year.
Ohio’s medical program is among the top, most booming weed economies in the country. Legislators are so accustomed to legal weed that even Republican lawmakers are introducing proposals to legalize it for adults 21+. Between those measures making rounds and the ballot initiative campaign with 70,000 more signatures than needed, the Buckeye State is bound to get recreationally stoned sooner than later.