Checking the Pulse on Cannabis Legalization in 2023

Marijuana legalization has made great strides in recent years. 21 states (including the District of Columbia) permit recreational cannabis for adults 21 or older. 37 states approve of medical marijuana. Within the medical group, 11 states permit CBD oils and small amounts of THC, the psychoactive chemical prevalent in marijuana. 2 states, Nebraska and Idaho, do not approve of any type of marijuana use. At the end of 2022, 44% of the county lived in states with access to legal recreational marijuana. 

Impressive as this map of legalizations is, it lags behind public opinion. In the US, 59% of adults surveyed support both medical and recreational use being legal. 30% support medical use only. Just 10% of people do not support legalization in any form. Despite this shift towards legalization, thousands still sit in prison for marijuana-related offenses. Despite President Joe Biden’s federal pardon, state prisons are not subject to his jurisdiction. 

Moving further into 2023, the Missouri ballot measure legalizing recreational cannabis will lead to stores allowed to sell recreationally opening. Research predicts that 7 new states will legalize recreational use by 2030.  These states are Florida, Rhode Island, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota. The time period between medical and recreational approval has been shortening since the 1990s. 
Federal regulations may be shifting as well. More than 50 federal bills relating to cannabis legalization were introduced in 2022. There has been increased activity surrounding updates to the Controlled Substances Act, the Cannabis Opportunity Act, and more.

Cannabis Legislation by State