What Are the Next States to Legalize Marijuana?

It’s been a banner year for marijuana legalization. Since the beginning of 2021, lawmakers in three states voted to legalize recreational marijuana: New Mexico, New York and Virginia. Even so, there are still a handful of potential next states to legalize marijuana.

Residents in these states can remain hopeful that legalization will happen in their area before the end of the year. Those who feel extremely hopeful may keep an eye on the effort to legalize marijuana at the national level. Although any effort still must clear the U.S. Senate and get past a president who has not favored legalization.

Next States to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

In the past, states typically legalized marijuana through a voter referendum. But after the Illinois state legislature made marijuana legal in 2019, lawmakers in other states – knowing that a majority of voters favor legalization – have followed suit.

All three states in 2021 legalized marijuana through the legislative process. More may do the same before the end of 2021.

Connecticut. The likelihood of Connecticut becoming the next state to legalize marijuana increased when neighboring New York legalized it earlier this year. A key committee has passed legislation to legalize but called it “a work in progress.”

Delaware. Legalization gains more traction each year in Delaware, but state law requires any measure involving a new tax to get approval from two-thirds of state lawmakers. That’s a threshold the proposal has not reached.

Rhode Island. Lawmakers recently held hearings on legalization, but a host of issues – including which past crimes involving cannabis to expunge from citizens’ arrest records – have yet to get ironed out.

Committees in the Minnesota legislature also approved a bill for a floor vote in the House, but it’s expected to stall in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Next States to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana has been a much easier sell in far more states, with 38 states and the District of Columbia approving medical cannabis. Each state has different limits on who can use medical marijuana.

The state most likely to become the next state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes is Alabama. The state Senate already approved a bill that is being sent to the House for consideration.

If it passes, the Alabama law would allow medical marijuana use for about 10 medical conditions, including autism, epilepsy, cancer and HIV/AIDS. The state would require a doctor to sign off on the treatment. A House committee recently approved the bill, but took out menopause and PMS as conditions that the state would allow for treatment with cannabis.

North Carolina and South Carolina are considered longshots to make medical marijuana legal in 2021, as well as Kansas and Nebraska.

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