cannabis legislation

33 states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana.

Ten states and the District of Columbia now have legalized small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use.

Colorado and Washington approved adult-use recreational marijuana measures in 2012. Alaska, Oregon, and District of Columbia followed suit in fall of 2014. In 2015, Ohio voters defeated a ballot measure that addressed commercial production and sale of recreational marijuana. On Nov. 8, 2016, voters in four states, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada, approved adult-use recreational marijuana

In 2018, Michigan voters approved “Proposal 1” by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana in the state.

In 2018, Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana for adult use through the legislative process (rather than a ballot initiative.) Vermont’s law went into effect July 1, 2018.

Expungement-related Legislation

In the past four years, at least ten states have passed laws addressing expungement of certain marijuana convictions. In most of these states, expungement measures pair with other policies to decriminalize or legalize.

In 2018, Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and Washington considered legislation that would affect expungement of certain marijuana convictions. California’s measure was the only one that passed. The bills in Massachusetts and New York were still pending as of October 4, 2018.   

Significant legislation in 2018 related to expungement:

California (AB 1793) addresses expungement of records. Proposition 64, the ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana use for people 21 and older also contained language for the “resentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions”. A process for the expungement of records was not specified in the ballot measure and AB 1793 established such a process. The Department of Justice must now search its state criminal history information for eligible cases from 1975 to 2016 and notify prosecutors of all eligible cases in their jurisdiction. Prosecutors across the state have one year to challenge any case they do not agree is eligible for resentencing, case dismissal or expungement.

Significant legislation in 2017 related to expungement:

Colorado (HB 1266) now allows defendants convicted of a misdemeanor offense for use or possession of marijuana to petition to seal criminal records if the offense would not have been a crime if committed on or after Dec. 10, 2012.

Maryland (SB 949) reduced the waiting period for expungement of a marijuana possession offense from 10 years to four years.

The Nevada Assembly and Senate both passed a measure (AB 259) that would have permitted those with criminal convictions for offenses involving the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana prior to Jan. 1, 2017 to have their convictions vacated. The measure was vetoed by the governor.

Significant legislation in 2016 related to expungement:

Missouri (SB 588) expanded eligibility for, reduces waiting periods, and creates a presumption in favor of expungement if certain criteria are met, for all misdemeanors and many felonies, including but not limited to marijuana crimes. 

New Hampshire (SB 391) amended to 2 years the waiting period for petitioning for annulment of misdemeanor marijuana or hashish offense.

An Oregon enactment (SB1598) instructed courts with respect to expungement orders for marijuana convictions for offenses that no longer are a crime.

Significant legislation in 2015 related to expungement:


Following the successful legalization ballot measure there, an act in Oregon (SB 364) now requires courts to consider set-aside of records of certain misdemeanor marijuana offenses when probation has been successfully completed; and another Oregon act (SB 844) made eligible for expunction an adjudication for marijuana possession crimes.

Laws in Maryland (SB 651) and Vermont (SB 115) allow expungement of an offense for which the underlying conduct is no longer a criminal offense. Similarly, a Rhode Island act (SB 518) provided that records of marijuana violations are not open to the public.

In 2014, a New Jersey enactment (A 3206 and SB 2663) allows expungement of records of those who successfully complete special probation drug court.

Oakland & San Francisco

A 2017 report found that 77 percent of people arrested in 2015 for weed-related crimes in Oakland were black. This led officials there to launch the Equity Cannabis Permit Program in May of this year, which allows entrepreneurs to sell marijuana when recreational pot becomes legal in California on Jan. 1. As Alyssa Jeong Perry of member station KQED reported last month, the program will give priority to people who have been arrested and convicted for cannabis crimes after Nov. 5, 1996, when medical marijuana became legal in the state.

“The purpose of the equity program is that we’re all starting off on a level playing field. That’s why they got the priority license,” said Alexis Bronson,  who’s spent thousands on state application fees as a beneficiary but hasn’t actually been able to get space to work. “That’s why they incubated us. And meanwhile, I’m sitting here with no income.”

San Francisco, like Oakland, has also created an equity program but has also taken the extra step of placing restrictions on who can apply for a cannabis business license.

Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, has been looking at how jurisdictions nationwide are addressing marijuana convictions in the post-legalization world. San Francisco, she said, stands out for clearing thousands of marijuana convictions without requiring individuals to specifically ask. “They are wiping convictions off of people’s records in one fell swoop, and my hope is that more officials will follow San Francisco,” Clarke said.


Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana. This generally means certain small, personal-consumption amounts are a civil or local infraction, not a state crime (or are the lowest misdemeanor with no possibility of jail time). Since 2013, five state legislatures have enacted marijuana decriminalization – Delaware (2015), Illinois (2016), Maryland (2014), Missouri (2014), and Vermont (2013). Also, in 2014 and preceding the successful legalization ballot measure, the District of Columbia enacted legislation, which passed congressional review, and made possession or transfer without remuneration of one ounce or less of marijuana a civil violation.

Recent Decriminalization Enactments 2013 – 2018

In 2017, New Hampshire became the latest state to decriminalize (HB 640) small amounts of marijuana. Fines for possession of up three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana were reduced from $2,000 to just $100 for a first or second offense. In 2016, New Hampshire passed legislation (SB 498) that made possession of one ounce or less of marijuana an unspecified misdemeanor, stopping short of decriminalization.

In 2016, the Illinois General Assembly enacted and the governor signed legislation (SB 2228) to decriminalize 10 grams or less of marijuana, making it an infraction that does not result in a criminal record. 

In early 2016, the Maryland General Assembly overrode the governor’s veto of a 2015 measure (SB 517) that decriminalized marijuana paraphernalia and imposes civil fines of $500 for public cannabis use.


Other state actions have reduced criminal penalties for marijuana convictions, generally following a trend to reduce adverse consequences of some marijuana crimes.

In the last five years, legislation in at least 16 states have amended marijuana penalties.

In 2018, criminal penalty measures were considered in Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Mexico, New Jersey, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming. None of these measures were enacted.

Significant legislation in 2017 affecting marijuana penalties included:

Kansas (SB 112) reduced the severity level for unlawful possession for drug paraphernalia from a class A to a class B nonperson misdemeanor.

Montana’s sweeping sentencing bill (HB 133) includes provisions that reduced penalties for possession of marijuana under 60 grams to a misdemeanor with no jail time.

North Dakota (HB 1041) reduced the drug possession (including marijuana) charge level from a Class C felony to a Class A misdemeanor for first-time offenders and establishes probation as the presumptive sentence for low-level, nonviolent felonies. Another bill (HB 1269) reduced mandatory minimum sentences for controlled substances including marijuana.

To create consistency in state law in response to Measure 91, Oregon enacted (SB 302) which repealed some penalties related to unlawful possession of marijuana.

West Virginia (HB 2579) increased the penalties for transporting controlled substances into the state but provided a differing, lesser penalty for an offense involving marijuana.


Significant legislation in 2016 affecting marijuana penalties included:


Vermont (HB 858) raised to one ounce the amount of marijuana being unlawfully sold or dispensed for which an imprisonment penalty applies.

Indiana lawmakers enacted a penalty measure (SB 290) that sets amounts of drugs for which a person may be convicted of possession with intent to deliver without additional evidence of trafficking. The marijuana amount is 10 pounds or more.

A Maryland enactment (HB 565) made possession of 10 grams or more of marijuana a misdemeanor.

In Minnesota, an act (SB 3481) modified threshold amounts for several drugs, including marijuana. The enactment also created new possession crimes for specified amounts of marijuana plants and a new gross misdemeanor offense for possession offenses involving trace amounts of drugs.

Oklahoma (HB 2479) shortened sentences for many drug crimes, including marijuana possession.

An enactment in Louisiana decreased criminal penalties for some drug paraphernalia offenses and also removed such offenses as a predicate conviction for sentence enhancement purposes.

A justice reinvestment act in Maryland (HB 1312) addressed mandatory penalties for possession and distribution of 50 pounds or more of marijuana.

A Delaware (HB 332) enactment allows probation before judgment for misdemeanor marijuana offenses.

Significant legislation in 2015 affecting marijuana penalties included:

Utah lawmakers enacted broad sentencing and corrections reform legislation (HB 348) that included reduction of most marijuana penalties to misdemeanors.

A Connecticut act (HB 7104) created a new penalty structure that makes half an ounce or more of marijuana a Class A misdemeanor instead of a felony. Other drug possession also became a misdemeanor rather than a felony, while courts have options for repeat offenses.

An act in Wyoming in 2015 (SB 38) provided for deferred prosecution for first offenses of using or being under the influence of controlled substances, including marijuana.

The North Dakota Legislative Assembly enacted a bill (HB 1394) that reduced from a Class A to a Class B misdemeanor the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.

Legislation approved in Louisiana (HB 149) created graduated penalties for marijuana possession based on amounts and number of convictions. 

And a 2015 Texas act (HB 642) allows judges to require that minors who possess marijuana to participate in drug education programming.

Significant legislation in 2014 affecting marijuana penalties included:

A Mississippi (HB 585) measure addressed drug courts and penalties for certain drug possession offenses, including marijuana.


Utah (SB 205) provided that increased sentences for some drug possession crimes, including marijuana, may not result in an offense greater than a second-degree felony. 

Oklahoma legislation (SB 1875) allows a deferred sentence for certain drug offenders, including marijuana, and provides for no conviction record upon completion of conditions.

In 2013, Oregon passed two marijuana penalty measures, one that reduced the penalty for marijuana manufacture from a class A to a class B felony and created varying penalties for marijuana possession based on the weight of the drug. Another enactment modified sentences for felony marijuana offenses.


Overview of States with Medical and/or Recreational Cannabis

  • Maryland
    • Medical
    • Noteworthy Information: Over 50 dispensary licenses have been issued in Maryland and almost all are up and running. A 2016 law allows dentists, podiatrists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners to provide written cannabis certifications. While Maryland’s first medical cannabis law was passed in 2003, it wasn’t until 2014 that a dispensary system passed, and then a few more years later that product would be available.
    • Regulated: Yes (Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission)
    • 2018 Medical Sales : $79,000,000
    • 2022 Projected Medical Sales : $139,000,000
  • New Jersey
    • Medical: Yes
    • Adult Use: No
    • Noteworthy Information: New Jersey has a small but established medical dispensary structure. It is also one of the most expensive cannabis programs, likely due to lack of competition. On March 27, 2018, Governor Murphy announced major reforms outlined in a report in response to Executive Order #6 which directed a comprehensive review of the program. Five new qualifying debilitating medical conditions were also added. The Dept. of Health will be accepting requests from existing Alternative Treatment Centers for waivers to allow satellite locations. There is a strong effort to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey but the likelihood of it happening at this time is still up in the air.
    • Regulated: Yes (New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. New Jersey Department of Agriculture also has enforcement oversight)
    • 2018 Medical Sales : $97,000,000
    • 2022 Projected Medical Sales : $284,000,000
  • Pennsylvania
    • Medical: Yes
    • Adult Use: No
    • Noteworthy Information: Pennsylvania is one of the latest states to join the medical cannabis group, doing so in April 2016. The law notably features some employee protections for patients. Special temporary regulations were previously issued that create a process for minors to get permission to obtain out-of-state cannabis and bring it into Pennsylvania. The first medical marijuana dispensary opened its doors on May 30, 2018. The flower is not allowed, nor are pre-made edibles (that is, patients can make their own edibles from products purchased at a dispensary, but not stores may not sell edibles.)
    • Regulated: Yes – Department of health
  • New York
    • Medical: Yes
      Adult Use: No
      Noteworthy Information: New York has a restrictive dispensary system, along with limited doctor participation and product availability, though the state is working on trying to improve the system. Smoking is not permitted and the regulations prohibit edibles. Beginning on September 1,2 018, the New York Police Department will begin issuing tickets for people who smoke marijuana in public instead of arresting them. Opioid Use will soon be added as a qualifying medical condition.
      Regulated : Yes (New York State Department of Health)
      2018 Medical Sales : $219,000,000
  • Florida 
    • Began as oil only, but this policy was repealed
    • Very few cultivators
  • West Virginia 
    • Only oils, nothing until 2019
  • Connecticut
    • Medical: Yes
      Adult Use: No
      Noteworthy Information: Connecticut has a growing medical dispensary system. In May 2016 Connecticut enacted a new law allowing minors to participate, as long as not in a smokable, inhalable or vaporizable form. Nurses may now also dispense. There are currently over 26,000 registered patients. Hospitals, universities, and licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and producers can apply for the medical marijuana research program. Progress is being made on legalizing recreational marijuana. Six recreational legalization bills were introduced in the 2018 legislative session.
      Regulated : Yes (Connecticut Department Of Consumer Protection, Medical Marijuana Program)
      2018 Medical Sales : $71,000,000
      2022 Projected Medical Sales : $103,000,000
      2018 Adult Use Sales: N/A
      2022 Projected Adult Use Sales : $99,000,000
  • Rhode Island
    • Medical: Yes
      Adult Use: No
      Noteworthy Information: Rhode Island has a medical dispensary program. A July 2016 law added PTSD and hospice. A legislative commission was formed in 2017 to evaluate the impacts of legalizing marijuana recreationally. The board was expected to issue recommendations for creating a market in March but instead wants to extend its work and release a report by February 2019. The governor is seeking to expand the medical marijuana program. There is a bill in the Senate that would increase the number of Compassion Centers permits from 3 to 12.
      Regulated : Yes (Rhode Island Department of Health)
      2018 Medical Sales : $80,000,000
      2022 Projected Medical Sales : $69,000,000
      2018 Adult Use Sales: $0
      2022 Projected Adult Use Sales : $122,000,000
  • New Hampshire
    • Medical: Yes
      Adult Use: No
      Noteworthy Information: New Hampshire’s medical cannabis program was signed into law in July 2013 by then-Gov. Maggie Hassan. Since then, several additional qualifying conditions have been added. As of December 2017, there were over 4,700 registered patients. Governor Chris Sununu signed a marijuana decriminalization bill in 2017, reducing penalties for possessing three quarters of an ounce or less of cannabis from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil violation punishable only by a fine. A limited recreational legalization bill was sent into “interim study” by the House in March 2018, effectively killing it for the year.
      Regulated : Yes (New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Service–Office of Operations Support-Therapeutic Cannabis Program)
      2018 Medical Sales : $14,000,000
      2022 Projected Medical Sales : $36,000,000
      2018 Adult Use Sales: N/A
      2022 Projected Adult Use Sales : N/A
  • Vermont
    • Medical : Yes
      Adult Use: Yes (Limited)
      Noteworthy Information: On January 22, 2018, Governor Phil Scott signed a bill legalizing the possession and the limited cultivation of cannabis by adults 21+. It took effect on July 1st. Adults 21+ legally can possess up to one ounce of marijuana and can grow up to two mature marijuana plants and four immature marijuana plants per housing unit. Vermont has an established medical dispensary system. Vermont has an established medical dispensary system. The State passed an amendment in 2016 that allows for dispensaries to sell to one another, requires child-resistant packaging and adds several qualifying conditions. In 2017, a bill was signed that added post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Parkinson’s disease, and Crohn’s disease to the list of qualifying conditions.
      Regulated : Yes (Vermont Department of Public Safety)
      2018 Medical Sales : $22,000,000
      2022 Projected Medical Sales : $44,000,000
      2022 Projected Adult Use Sales : $64,000,000
  • Maine
    • Medical: Yes
      Adult Use: Yes
      Noteworthy Information: Voters approved adult-use legalization in November 2016. (Opponents dropped a recount, which still delayed the beginning date of adult-use cultivation.) The legislature has delayed other implementation dates. The Department of Administrative and Financial Services is required to hire a consultant to help write additional regulatory rules, including the licensing of wholesale commercial growing facilities and the licensing of retail sellers. These rules will have to be approved by the next Legislature. Adults may now grow, gift and possess cannabis, but it could be until the spring of 2019 before the first retail establishments open. The medical program has existed in some form since 1998.
      Regulated : Yes (Medical: Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services, Medical Use of Marijuana Program) (Adult-use: Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations)
      2018 Medical Sales : $59,000,000
      2022 Projected Medical Sales : $28,000,000
      2018 Adult Use Sales: $0
      2022 Projected Adult Use Sales : $237,000,000
  • Ohio
    • Medical: Yes
      Adult Use: No
      Noteworthy Information: Ohio’s medical marijuana program became law in June 2016. The state has been releasing regulations and the cannabis committee has been meeting. The Ohio Department of Commerce and the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy are required by law to take all actions necessary to ensure that Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program is fully operational no later than September 2018. Smoking and combustion are not allowed but oils, tinctures, plant material, edibles, and patches are permitted. The amount of medical marijuana possessed by a registered patient or caregiver must not exceed a 90-day supply.
      Regulated : Yes (Ohio Department of Commerce and Board of Pharmacy. The Department of Commerce will oversee growers, processors, and labs. The Board of Pharmacy will oversee dispensaries.)
  • Michigan
    • Medical: Yes
      Adult Use: Yes
      Noteworthy Information: Michigan voters approved Proposition 1 on November 6, 2018, making it the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana. Proposition 1 allows adults 21+ to use marijuana recreationally and grow up to 12 plants, sets a 10-ounce limit for cannabis stored in residences (2.5 ounces and up must be kept in a locked container), and establishes a state licensing system for marijuana businesses. A 10% tax is imposed on all marihuana sales, which will go towards education, transportation infrastructure, and local governments. It also changes violations from crimes to civil infractions. ‘Marihuana’ (as it’s called in Michigan laws) has a beleaguered history in the state. The medical dispensary system was dismantled by a court ruling in May 2016. Then in September 2016, Governor Snyder signed three laws establishing a new system. As the new system gets set up, patients or caregivers may still grow under what remains of the existing system, but caregivers are limited to 5 patients for now. The new laws allow for concentrates and topicals. Applications for the five categories of medical marijuana licenses — for growers, processors, transporters, testers, and dispensaries — are now available (http://www.michigan.gov/documents/lara/Medical_Marihuana_Facility_License_Paper_Application_608216_7.pdf).
      Regulated : Yes (Michigan has centralized all aspects of medical marihuana regulation with the creation of the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation (BMMR) housed in the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA))
      2018 Medical Sales : $869,000,000
      2022 Projected Medical Sales : $698,000,000
      2018 Adult Use Sales: N/A
      2022 Projected Adult Use Sales : $663,000,000
  • Wisconsin
    • Medical: No, however, possession of marijuana-derived CBD oil is legal with a doctor’s certification.
      Adult Use: No. A majority of voters have voted for marijuana in referendum votes that state government officials have promised to ignore. It is interesting that the state continues to punish nonviolent cannabis offenders when there is no evidence this is effective when their reason for ignoring public sentiment is lack of pro-cannabis evidence.
      Quote: Wisconsin Senate President Roger Roth said he believes there’s not enough medical evidence yet to support legalization, and that allowing doctors to prescribe the substance for people with medical needs could open the door to recreational marijuana legalization for which the state is not ready.
      “We still don’t know the health effects of long-term use,” said Roth, R-Appleton. “I believe we’d need eight to 10 years of data to understand the impacts. … I don’t support it, and I don’t believe the support is there” in the Senate.
    • Noteworthy Information : On April 27, 2018, the Wisconsin Department of Justice released a memo to advise law enforcement, saying: “CBD oil and other CBD products, with or without THC, are illegal to possess or distribute within the State of Wisconsin except for patients with a doctor’s certification in very limited circumstances.” The Attorney General later reversed the memo a few days later after meeting with industry representatives and said Wisconsin farmers who grow industrial hemp can produce CBD oil from it.
  • Illinois
    • Illinois
      Medical : Yes
      Adult Use: No
    • Pretty interesting that the Mayor of Chicago  flip-flopped for well over a decade on his stance on marijuana, now when they finally get close to legalization, he wants to steer the funds to government pensions, which are already an issue of concern (they are bloated and the city is constantly broke)
      Noteworthy Information: Illinois has operating dispensaries. The program initially suffered from low numbers of patients. In 2016 the state made adjustments to the program, including adding PTSD and terminal illness as conditions. The language for doctors was relaxed: one must now only state that the doctor is treating the patient, and what condition the patient has. Veterans are only required to submit one year of medical records from the VA facility where they receive services, rather than requiring such a note.
      Regulated : Yes (called ‘Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.’ Agencies & duties: Illinois Department of Agriculture – oversees Cultivation and Testing Laboratories Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation – oversees Dispensaries Illinois Department of Health – oversees patient and caregiver registry)
      2018 Medical Sales : $146,000,000
      2022 Projected Medical Sales : $400,000,000
      2018 Adult Use Sales: N/A
      2022 Projected Adult Use Sales : N/A
  • Minnesota
    • Medical : Yes
      Adult Use: No
      Noteworthy Information: The Office of Medical Cannabis accepts petitions annually, June 1 – July 31, to add a new qualifying condition and/or delivery method to the MN Medical Cannabis program.
      Regulated : Yes (Minnesota Department of Health–Division of Health Policy–Office of Medical Cannabis)
      2018 Medical Sales : $39,000,000
      2022 Projected Medical Sales : $101,000,000
      2018 Adult Use Sales: N/A
      2022 Projected Adult Use Sales : N/A
  • Missouri
    • Medical : Yes
      Adult Use: No
      Noteworthy Information: Missouri has become the 32nd state to legalize medical marijuana. Missouri voters approved Amendment 2 on November 6, 2018, legalizing the growing, manufacturing, sale and consumption of marijuana for medicinal use. State-licensed physicians will be able to recommend marijuana use to patients with certain qualifying conditions. There will be a 4 percent state tax on marijuana sales which will help fund services for veterans. Patients could grow up to six plants. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is tasked with overseeing and regulating the state’s medical-marijuana program. They will also establish purchasing and possession limitations. Two other medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot failed.
      Regulated : Yes (Department of Health and Senior Services for cards, and Department of Agriculture for production)
  • Arkansas
    • Medical: Yes
      Adult Use: No
      Noteworthy Information: In March 2018, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ruled in that the cultivation licensing process violated a state constitutional amendment that voters approved in 2016, legalizing marijuana for certain patients. The ruling effectively suspended the launch of Arkansas’ medical marijuana program. In April 2018, state officials announced the commission would stop reviewing dispensary applications in response to the ruling. The Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments June 7, 2018, and it is uncertain when they would rule. Qualified registered patients are allowed to purchase up to 2.5 ounces from a dispensary every 14 days.
      Regulated : Yes (The Medical Marijuana Commission oversees cultivators and dispensaries. The Alcoholic Beverage Control agency inspects facilities. The Department of Health issues registry cards for patients.)
      2018 Medical Sales : 24,000,000
      2022 Projected Medical Sales : 139,000,000
      2018 Adult Use Sales: N/A
      2022 Projected Adult Use Sales: N/A
  • Louisiana
    Medical : Yes
    Adult Use: No
    Noteworthy Information: As of September 17th, 31 doctors have been licensed in Louisiana to recommend marijuana. Only non-smokable methods are permitted. Medical Marijuana was anticipated to be available in September 2018 but GB Sciences, the cultivator for the LSU AgCenter, said the earliest harvest likely will be in November. The Board of Medical Examiners recently removed the cap on the number of patients a doctor can treat with medical marijuana. They also removed a requirement that patients see their doctor after 90 days of treatment before they can receive a renewal.
    Regulated : Yes (Louisiana Board of Pharmacy and the Department of Agriculture and Forestry)
    2018 Medical Sales : 5,000,000
    2022 Projected Medical Sales : $44,000,000
  • Oklahoma
    Medical : Yes
    Adult Use: No
    Noteworthy Information: Voters passed State Question 788 in June 2018, which legalizes the licensed use, sale, and growth of marijuana in Oklahoma for medicinal purposes. Governor Mary Fallin signed into law emergency medical marijuana rules, including two controversial amendments. Smokable forms of marijuana are prohibited and each dispensary must hire a pharmacist. Medical marijuana products and concentrates processed or dispensed cannot have a THC content of more than 12%. Lawmakers will have a chance to review the rules when they convene in regular session in February. Online application submissions will be available at on Saturday, August 25, 2018. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has created a call center to answer questions ahead of the implementation of SQ 788. The center will open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 405-522-6662.
    Regulated : The State Department of Health, Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority division.
  • Nebraska
    Medical : No
    Adult Use: No
    Noteworthy Information: Nebraskan conservatives are outspoken critics of cannabis. The state sued Colorado over alleged cannabis diversion; the legislature has killed every bill related to cannabis, and the governor has sworn to veto any legislation that would make it to his desk. Despite this general attitude towards cannabis, the legislature is contemplating a medical program, and hemp research crops have been grown in the state since November 2016.”
  • North Dakota
    Medical : Yes
    Adult Use: No
    Noteworthy Information: North Dakota voters passed medical cannabis in November 2016. The state began holding regular meetings almost immediately after the vote and named Kenan Bullinger the director of the program in February 2017. Dispensaries must be non-profits. Medical marijuana is expected to be available to patients in late 2018. A registered qualifying patient can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of dried leaves and flowers (special authorization from the health care provider is required) in a 30 day period. A measure to legalize recreational marijuana in the November 2018 election failed.
    Regulated : Yes (North Dakota Department of Health)
    2018 Medical Sales : 1,000,000
    2022 Projected Medical Sales : $36,000,000
  • Montana
    Medical : Yes
    Adult Use: No
    Noteworthy Information: Voters re-approved medical cannabis in the state in Nov. 2016. Dispensaries were supposed to not open until June 2017, but a Montana court ruled that they may reopen immediately. Montana used to have an established medical cannabis dispensary program, but a court ruling upholding a severe state law dismantled the dispensaries, by limiting the maximum number of patients to 3; that portion of the law is now repealed. Patient applications have surged since the election. A registered cardholder who has named a provider may possess up to 1 ounce of usable marijuana. A registered cardholder who has not named a provider may possess up to 4 mature plants, 12 seedlings, and 1 ounce of usable marijuana.
    Regulated : Yes (Department of Public Health and Human Services )
    2018 Medical Sales : $103,000,000
    2022 Projected Medical Sales : $148,000,000
    2018 Adult Use Sales: N/A
  • Utah
    • Medical: Yes
      Adult Use: No
      Noteworthy Information: Utah voters approved Proposition 2 on November 6, 2018, allowing the use of medical marijuana for certain illnesses, such as cancer and PTSD. Patients with a qualifying condition can obtain a recommendation for marijuana from a physician. Facilities will be authorized to grow and sell medical and their licensing and registration fees will fund the program. A provision effective January 1, 2021, allows medical marijuana cardholders who live more than 100 miles from a dispensary to grow up to six plants for personal use. Smoking cannabis is prohibited. Patients can purchase up to two ounces of cannabis flower or cannabis product that has no more than 10 grams of THC or CBD during a 14-day period.
      Regulated : No (Utah Department of health does maintain the Hemp Registry for cardholders though)
      2022 Projected Medical Sales : $17,200,000
  • Arizona
    Medical : Yes
    Adult Use: No
    Noteworthy Information: Arizona currently has just under 100 open dispensaries. The state accepted more applications in July 2016, issuing an additional 31 dispensary registration certificates in October 2016 (they received 750 applications for those 31 licenses). An adult-use initiative was on the November 2016 ballot, but failed to pass; a new adult-use initiative for the November 2018 ballot has already been filed. Two patients are suing the program over the $150 annual fee since the program has produced an $11.5 million surplus. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled in May that cannabis possession on college campuses by valid cardholders can no longer be called a state crime.
    Regulated : Yes (Arizona Department of Health Services)
    2018 Medical Sales : $633,000,000
    2022 Projected Medical Sales : $948,000,000
    2018 Adult Use Sales: $0
    2022 Projected Adult Use Sales : $243,000,000
  • Hawaii
    Medical : Yes
    Adult Use: No
    Noteworthy Information: Hawaii became the first state to pass medical cannabis by the legislature in 2000 but access was a challenge. A dispensary program was passed in 2015. The state does not allow for voter referendum; the legislature is the only mechanism for passing cannabis laws. Various parts of the program have since been expanded, such as allowing registered nurses with prescriptive authority to write recommendations, allowing the university to do cannabis research and tax guidance. Several qualifying conditions have been added over the years. Hawaii’s first dispensaries opened in the summer of 2017.
    Regulated : Yes (State of Hawaii Department of Health, Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program)
    2018 Medical Sales : $58,000,000
    2022 Projected Medical Sales : $120,000,000
    2018 Adult Use Sales: N/A
    2022 Projected Adult Use Sales : N/A
  • Nevada
    Medical : Yes
    Adult Use: Yes
    Noteworthy Information: Voters approved adult-use legalization in November 2016. Adults are allowed to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and up to 1/8 of an ounce of concentrated marijuana. Medical Marijuana dispensaries are authorized to sell medical marijuana to cardholders from a variety of approved states if the patient presents a State or local government-issued medical marijuana card. The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act specifies that, for the first 18 months of the program, only existing medical marijuana establishment certificate holders can apply for a retail marijuana establishment license. In November 2018, the application process may open up to those not holding a medical marijuana establishment certificate.
    Regulated : Department of Taxation. The Division of Public and Behavioral Health administers the Medical Marijuana Patient Cardholder Registry.
    2018 Medical Sales : $52,000,000
    2022 Projected Medical Sales : $38,000,000
    2018 Adult Use Sales : $317,000,000
    2022 Projected Adult Use Sales : $615,000,000
  • New Mexico
    Medical : Yes
    Adult Use: No
    Noteworthy Information: New Mexico has a growing medical system. After initially having very little confidentiality protection for cannabis businesses, the state has flipped and now has quite strong confidentiality laws for cannabis businesses. UNM has a research program. Opioid Use Disorder and Alzheimer’s disease passed the state’s medical advisory board but were rejected by the State Health Secretary. The governor, Susana Martinez, has vetoed every cannabis-related bill that has crossed her desk in 2017.
    Regulated : Yes (New Mexico Department of Health)
    2018 Medical Sales : $199,000,000
    2022 Projected Medical Sales : $275,000,000
  • Alaska
    Medical : Yes
    Adult Use: Yes
    Noteworthy Information: Alaska’s first recreational sale took place in late 2016. The state’s recreational program is in the process of issuing more licenses. Alaska’s medical program is limited to a card registry for patients and caregivers, with no business licenses. The legislature passed a law in July 2016 that allows municipalities to prohibit recreational cannabis licenses.
    Regulated : Recreational: Yes (Marijuana Control Board) Medical: No
    2018 Medical Sales : $3,000,000
    2022 Projected Medical Sales : $3,000,000
    2018 Adult Use Sales : $28,000,000
    2022 Projected Adult Use Sales : $119,000,000
  • California
    Medical : Yes
    Adult Use: Yes
    Noteworthy Information: California has approved adult-use cannabis. The state has had some form of medical cannabis laws since 1996, but until now there has been no state regulatory oversight. The California State Legislature passed a bill in June 2017 that integrated MCRSA with AUMA to create the Medicinal and Adult‐Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA).
    A 2017 report found that 77 percent of people arrested in 2015 for weed-related crimes in Oakland were black. This led officials there to launch the Equity Cannabis Permit Program in May of this year, which allows entrepreneurs to sell marijuana when recreational pot becomes legal in California on Jan. 1. As Alyssa Jeong Perry of member station KQED reported last month, the program will give priority to people who have been arrested and convicted for cannabis crimes after Nov. 5, 1996, when medical marijuana became legal in the state.
    Regulated : Yes (There are over a dozen state agencies involved)
    2018 Medical Sales : $294,000,000
    2022 Projected Medical Sales : $133,000,000
    2018 Adult Use Sales : $3,100,000,000
    2022 Projected Adult Use Sales : $7,600,000,000
  • Oregon
    Medical : Yes
    Adult Use: Yes
    Noteworthy Information: Oregon’s recreational system is now up and running. Medical dispensaries were able to sell recreational cannabis in the transition period, but that is now over – they may again only sell to cardholders, and must not have been approved for a recreational license in the same premises. Recreational dispensaries can sell tax-free products to medical cannabis cardholders. All workers must now pass a state test and obtain a permit. There are currently dozens of bills in the state legislature concerning medical and adult-use cannabis.
    Regulated : Medical – Yes (Oregon Health Authority) Recreational – Yes (Oregon Liquor Control Commission)
    2018 Medical Sales : $73,000,000
    2022 Projected Medical Sales : $59,000,000
    2018 Adult Use Sales : $553,000,000
    2022 Projected Adult Use Sales : $848,000,000
  • Washington
    Medical : Yes
    Adult Use: Yes
    Noteworthy Information: The Washington medical program was subsumed into the recreational program. Recreational stores are open. Medical cardholders may purchase in certain recreational stores sales-tax free, and/or join a co-op (co-ops are limited to 4 members, and must be in a home). The state is planning to grant cannabis research licenses as well. Of note, there is a bill in the legislature to repeal cannabis use in the state.
    Regulated : Medical – Yes (Washington State Department of Health) Recreational – Yes (Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. Note: Applications are now processed through the Department of Revenue’s Business Licensing Service)
    2018 Medical Sales: $0
    2022 Projected Medical Sales: $0
    2018 Adult Use Sales : $1,200,000,000
    2022 Projected Adult Use Sales : $1,500,000,000


Angell, T. (2018, December 12). Chicago Mayor Wants Legal Marijuana Revenue To Fund Pensions. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomangell/2018/12/12/chicago-mayor-wants-legal-marijuana-revenue-to-fund-pensions/#2646670d7d27

Brown, T. B. (2017, December 19). Carrying A Weed Conviction In California? There May Be A Fix For That. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/12/19/571956487/carrying-a-weed-conviction-in-california-there-may-be-a-fix-for-that

Hackman, R. (2017, June 15). A billion-dollar industry, a racist legacy: Being black and growing pot in America. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/15/legal-marijuana-industry-racism-portland-jesce-horton

Jordan, D. (2018, June 22). What happens to old marijuana convictions in states where it’s now legal? Retrieved from https://www.boston.com/news/politics/2018/06/22/marijuana-legalization-convictions

Lewis, A. C. (2016, March 17). America’s Whites-Only Weed Boom. Retrieved from https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/amandachicagolewis/americas-white-only-weed-boom#.kjZRK91bx

National Conference of State Legislatures. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ncsl.org/bookstore/state-legislatures-magazine

National Conference of State Legislatures. (n.d.). Civil and Criminal Justice. Retrieved from http://www.ncsl.org/research/civil-and-criminal-justice

Schneider, D. (2018, November 07). Legalizing marijuana: No quick action likely in Wisconsin despite overwhelming support at polls. Retrieved from https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/2018/11/07/marijuana-voters-want-pot-legal-medical-recreational-use/1888003002/


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