And the dominoes are falling. In late February, New Jersey legislators passed the laws that will govern the legal sale of marijuana for adult use in the Garden State. The legislation came after voters overwhelmingly passed a referendum last November , as did their peers in four other states.
Because the legalization of recreational marijuana is happening on a state-by-state basis, the question of where is weed legal may be one that some have trouble answering. But luckily, we’ve made a marijuana map that shows states with legal weed. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the fast-track to legalization happening all over the country, let’s get into the basics of legal weed.
Legalization of weed is happening all over the country. This map shows where.
Still, like any substance, it’s important that if you live in a state that has now or recently legalized marijuana to keep anything safely locked, stored, and out of sight and reach of your children. It’s also important to, just like alcohol, not partake in the drugs around your children, because of the mental, emotional, and social effects, along with the unknown physical health effects.
For parents of color and parents of older teenagers, legalization for people over 21 comes as a positive good in a time where young adults can have their entire careers, lives, and educational futures derailed if they’re caught with a gram of weed on them.
A handful of other states across the country have already legalized and decriminalized the drug for recreational and medical use, suggesting that voters have changed their minds about whether marijuana is a gateway drug and whether people deserve to go to jail for possessing it.
People of color have been disproportionately penalized for marijuana possession in Connecticut, which decriminalized the possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana in 2011. Black people in the state were four times more likely to be arrested than white people for possession of marijuana, according to a report published last year by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Polls have shown that Americans overwhelmingly support legalization, with one study from the Pew Research Center this year finding that 60 percent of adults believe marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use, while 31 percent support legalizing it for medical use only.
Debate continued to rage on the floor of the State Senate Thursday in the final hours before the bill was passed by a 16-11 margin. Legislators who pushed back on the bill criticized its “social equity” provision, which calls for half of retail licenses to be issued to low-income applicants, and raised concerns about addiction and crime.
But State Senator Martin Looney, a Democrat and one of the legislation’s sponsors, argued that a regulated cannabis industry would make marijuana consumption safer and pointed to the profits the state stood to make.
“This has been years in the making,” said DeVaughn Ward, senior legislative council for the Marijuana Policy Project, a nationwide advocacy organization for marijuana legalization and one of the proponents of Connecticut’s bill. “The amount of revenue that will be generated and directed back into our distressed communities is an unprecedented investment in communities of color.”
The Connecticut bill had a chaotic journey through the legislature. Mr. Lamont had previously threatened to veto the bill over a late amendment by the State Senate, which would have given preferential status to retail license applicants with past records of selling or using marijuana. House members stripped the bill of the provision before passing it last Wednesday.
Those convicted of possession from Jan. 1, 2000 through Sept. 30, 2015 will have their records automatically cleared beginning in 2023. People with convictions from outside this time period can apply to have their records expunged starting next July.
In New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a legalization bill into law in April. Retail sales are set to begin next year, though state residents are now able to grow and possess marijuana as of June 29.
Three states—New Mexico, Virginia, and South Dakota—passed legalization in recent months, and the laws took effect in late June and early July.
See all the states where marijuana is legal:
Virginia legalized cannabis through its legislature in April. The law took effect on July 1, though marijuana sales won’t begin in the state until 2024. On June 18, the Connecticut legislature legalized cannabis for adults 21 and over.
Since 2012, 18 states and Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana for adults over the age of 21. And 37 states have legalized medical marijuana — meaning that a majority of Americans have access to cannabis, whether medically or recreationally.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill legalizing marijuana on March 31. His move came shortly after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation officially legalizing marijuana in his state.