Since 2012, 19 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.
Three states-New Mexico, Virginia, and South Dakota-passed legalization in recent months, and the laws took effect in late June and early July.
In South Dakota, medical and recreational cannabis ballot measures passed in the November elections. But only the medical program appears to be underway as recreational marijuana faces challenges.
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.
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.
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.
New Jersey was one of four states, along with Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota, where voters backed legalizing recreational cannabis in November. Voters in Mississippi approved the creation of a medical cannabis program.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana in the state in May, though patients aren’t expected to have access to cannabis until next year.
Some states that passed medical or recreational legislation through ballot measures have yet to iron out the details. For that reason, Insider does not include South Dakota in its tally of markets where the substance is legal for recreational use. Likewise, Mississippi’s medical program has faced challenges after the election.
Canada legalized marijuana federally in 2018, but US has not followed suit, forcing states to chart their own courses. As it stands, marijuana is still considered an illegal Schedule I drug by the US government.
See all the states where marijuana is legal:
This article was first published in January 2018 and has been updated with new information about where cannabis is legal. It was last updated on July 8 after legalization officially took place in New Mexico, Connecticut, and Virginia. Melia Russell contributed to an earlier version of this story.
Adults 21 and over can light up in Alaska. In 2015, the northernmost US state made it legal for residents to use, possess, and transport up to an ounce of marijuana — roughly a sandwich bag full — for recreational use. The first pot shop opened for business in 2016.
Alaska has pounced on the opportunity to make its recreational-pot shops a destination for tourists. More than 2 million people visit Alaska annually and spend $2 billion.
The measure had support from almost 60% of Arizona voters.
The ballot measure was backed by a number of cannabis giants, including Curaleaf, Cresco, and Harvest Enterprises.
The Arizona Department of Health Services began accepting applications for adult-use licenses on January 19. Approvals were issued just three days later on January 22. Sales began immediately.
Arizona rolled out adult-use sales faster than any other state that voted to pass recreational cannabis in the November elections. Companies already operating in the state’s medical market had a first crack at recreational customers.
In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. California became even more pot-friendly in 2016 when it made it legal to use and carry up to 1 ounce of marijuana.
The law also permits adults 21 and over to buy up to 8 grams of marijuana concentrates, which are found in edibles, and grow no more than six marijuana plants per household.
In Colorado, there are more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks and McDonald’s combined. The state joined Washington in becoming the first two states to fully legalize the drug in 2012.
Residents and tourists over the age of 21 can buy up to 1 ounce of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrates. Some Colorado counties and cities have passed more restrictive laws.
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