2023 has seen several major changes to cannabis restrictions that have affected almost half of the states across the U.S. Recreational use of marijuana has been permitted in at least 21 states while almost 40 states accept the use of medical marijuana, including small amounts of THC. Currently just two states do not approve CBD or marijuana use.
State Legalization is Changing
The nation as a whole is slowly becoming more comfortable with the idea of legal cannabis. More than 50% of states support recreational and medical marijuana while 30% support only medical marijuana and 10% have yet to legalize any kind of legal cannabis. In fact, 44% of Americans live in places that allow access to legal recreational cannabis, such as California and New York.
States like Utah, Minnesota, and Mississippi allow people to use medical marijuana while only recreational can be used in states like Arizona, Illinois, and Michigan. Idaho and Nebraska have not legalized any form of cannabis. Although hemp-based CBD is federally legal, legislation dictating its status in states is more complicated.
In terms of CBD legalization by state, 17 of them offer full legalization while 33 states have varying conditions that need to be met. For example, in Alabama, cannabis cannot exceed 0.3% THC while in Tennessee, cannabis can’t exceed 0.9% THC without a medical license. Other restrictions in other states include cannabis-derived CBD oil being legal with a medical cannabis license in Minnesota and allowing hemp-derived cannabis only in Wyoming.
Experts are saying that significant change is not too far away, especially with restrictions on the local or state level. Paul Aremntano, the Deputy Director of NORML, has recognized that most legalization victories have exclusively all been at the local and state level, and he expects the trend to continue in 2023. Tyler McFadden, a Board Member of BOWL PAC, has mentioned that although legalization might not come within this year, we will eventually reach it faster if we’re all doing something about it now instead of waiting for something to happen without taking action ourselves. Cannabis legalization is always being changed with more new decisions coming in the near future.
Research is showing that seven more states might approve recreational marijuana within the next seven years. The possible states are South Dakota, New Hampshire, and Ohio. The time it takes between medical and recreational cannabis approval is shortening as well with the most recent time period being 1,463 days in Massachusetts in 2012. This is a significant improvement from California’s 7,308 day-approval period in 1996.
Federal regulations have been changing in recent years as well. In 2022, at least 50 federal bills have been presented. President Biden sent out an executive order excusing offenders convicted of just possessing marijuana in violation of the Controlled Substances Act if they did not cause any violence. There has also been more activity around the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), Cannabis Opportunity Act (CAOA), and Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE) that could result in even more significant changes on cannabis policies as prohibitive legislation continues to weaken.