The push for cannabis legalization continues to gain momentum from coast to coast. Although still illegal under federal law, nearly every election over the last half decade has given voters the opportunity to voice their opinion on both medical and recreational cannabis use.
A recent Gallup poll shows 66% of Americans favor of full federal legalization – a continuing upward trend that marks the highest public endorsement in history. Even a majority of Republicans (53% in another poll) are now in support of the movement, with an assenting majority across age and regional demographics.
In the latest mid-term elections, Michigan became the 10th state to fully legalize cannabis consumption, becoming the first trendsetting state in the Midwest to do so. Ballot initiatives in Missouri and Utah saw voters approve medical use while a similar measure in North Dakota was voted down. Vermont rang in the new year with Governor Phil Scott signing Act H. 511 into law, marking the first case of legalization via legislative order over voter-approved ballot measure.
Looking at the entire country, ten states and Washington, D.C. have fully legalized cannabis consumption for adults over 21. Besides that, 33 states plus Guam and Puerto Rico have legalized cannabis specifically for medical use. Another 13 have decriminalized the possession of small amounts.
States with Full Legalization (State-specific restrictions in place)
Progress is being made among the states that have yet to adopt full legalization. Kansas and Indiana, where sales are restricted to limited-THC cannabis products only (aka hemp-based CBD products), recently reduced the penal severity of unlawful cannabis possession, easing punishments and restrictions and potentially paving a path for future ballot possibilities. In Nebraska, where cannabis use remains prohibited, punishments have been slightly reduced for first time offenders with state code 28-416 decreasing the fine from $500 to $300.  Fines and penalties increase for repeat offenders but this is the first easing of cannabis punishments in the state.
States with Medical Legalization Only
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
States Legal for Medical Use with Limited THC (CBD Products Legal)
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
States with no Recognized Legalization
- South Dakota
- Uniformed Controlled Substances Act. Nebraska Revised Statute 28-416, (13)