Medical marijuana legalization has been a “west thing” since it started, with Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and California among the first states to legalize marijuana. Since then, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, Illinois and Michigan have followed.
One area left behind by medical marijuana legalization is The South. Florida has a medical marijuana industry that started in 2016, but while technically in The South, the state is only traditionally southern in its northern half. Two small states, Louisiana and Arkansas, have also passed medical marijuana legalization, although for a limited number of conditions.
But some of the southern states could soon join the list of states that have made medical marijuana legal. That’s important for cannabis companies and consumers because it’s the largest region in the United States, with 125.5 million people. This is how things stand in April 2020.
Georgia Has A New Medical Marijuana Program
It’s not certain when it will begin, but Georgia lawmakers have approved medical marijuana legalization for a limited number of medical conditions. However, the law bans flower, edibles and vaping. Also, all products must have less than 5% THC. And there are only six dispensary licenses available for a state of 10.5 million people. However, the biggest issue is that while medical marijuana is legal for the 14,000 people who have signed up for the state program, there’s no legal way to buy it yet in Georgia. It’s a complicated knot that lawmakers continue to try to unravel.
Alabama Temporarily Derailed By Coronavirus
Alabama senators have approved a bill allowing legal medical marijuana for treatment of certain conditions, including anxiety, autism, cancer-related illnesses, Crohn’s Disease, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders, Tourette’s Syndrome and conditions causing chronic or intractable pain. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has kept the bill from being taken up by the full legislature.
Mississippi Voters to Consider Legalization
In Mississippi, which is as deep as the Deep South gets, voters will consider legalizing medical marijuana in a measure on the November ballot. However, voters may experience confusion because the ballot will contain two separate measures. One is more restrictive than the other, including banning the ability to smoke marijuana.
South Carolina Considers Medical Marijuana Legalization
South Carolina lawmakers have considered making medical marijuana legal, and a bill has even been introduced called the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act. This bill also would prevent smoking cannabis. However, lawmakers have signaled they will consider a limited amount of legislation this year due to the coronavirus. Few expect that to include medical marijuana legalization.
For the cannabis curious who live in The South, waiting for medical marijuana legalization is something that will require patience. But once the virus pandemic has passed, there’s reason to hope things could change in some states.