by Casey Leins, Horus Alas, and Elliott Davis Jr.
November 9, 2022
More States Legalize Recreational Marijuana
Voters in Maryland and Missouri voted to legalize cannabis possession for adults in their states in November 2022.
Those measures, plus Rhode Island’s own legalization earlier in 2022 and previous initiatives over the years, bring the total number of states that have acted to legalize recreational marijuana to 21. The District of Columbia and Guam have also enacted legalization measures.
South Dakota passed legalization through a ballot measure in 2020, but in late November 2021, the state Supreme Court nullified it, as reported by The Associated Press. The decision followed a lawsuit backed by Republican Gov. Kristi Noem. A similar measure failed to get enough votes in the state in November 2022.
According to 2020 U.S. Census Bureau numbers, more than 158 million Americans now live in a state that has legalized marijuana.
The wave of initiatives to legalize marijuana began in 2012, and has mostly been driven by coastal states. More states are likely to join their ranks in the coming years, as about two-thirds of American adults support marijuana legalization at both the federal and state level, according to an April 2022 survey by CBS News/YouGov.
States have been setting their own guidelines for the legality of marijuana use and the quantities they deem legal for a resident to possess. At the federal level, however, the Drug Enforcement Administration continues to classify marijuana as a Schedule I drug, “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” But a Senate bill introduced in July 2022 could change that in the form of federal decriminalization. Additionally, an Oct. 7, 2022 proclamation by President Joe Biden – in addition to pardoning thousands for simple possession – called for a federal review into how marijuana is scheduled.
Here are the 21 states that have moved to legalize marijuana for recreational use, as of November 2022. States appear in chronological order for when their legalization measures were approved...
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