News of cannabis legalization and monumental changes are imminent in the United States after the presidential election which was finalized over the weekend, including groundbreaking US cannabis legalization measures in several states. When the new laws go into effect, one-third of this country’s population will reside where some form of cannabis is legal. Here is a guide to voted-in changes to cannabis laws and other drug policies from November 2020 as applicable by state.
Arizona – Recreational use legalized
Four years ago, voters here rejected the legalization of recreational cannabis but in 2020, Proposition 207 passed. Under the new law, as of November 30, 2020, adults aged 21 and older may possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a time and cultivate up to six plants for personal use. Currently, there are 130 medical marijuana businesses in Arizona; these operators will automatically have access to the adult-use market. Additionally, 26 social equity licenses are expected to be awarded, and retail cannabis sales face a 16% tax. Proposition 207 called for one vertically integrated marijuana company for every 10 pharmacies and allows for additional adult-use cannabis business licenses to be issued in any county that has fewer than two existing MMJ operators. Projected first-year sales range from $375 – $400 million.
Mississippi – Medical use legalized
After a hard-won battle, patients with debilitating medical issues may now legally obtain marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. It includes 22 qualifying conditions such as cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder; patients would be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of doctor-prescribed marijuana per 14-day period. The state Department of Health is slated to issue medical marijuana identification cards to qualifying patients, who will then be able to obtain medical marijuana from a licensed treatment center. Cannabis sales are planned to be taxed at the current sales tax rate of 7%. Patient identification cards and treatment center licenses are planned to be issued by August 15, 2021.
Montana – Recreational use legalized
In Big Sky Country, adults aged 21 and older may use cannabis recreationally. Projected sales are $217.2 million in the first year and $234 million by 2024. A constitutional amendment also recently passed which stipulates only those 21 and older can participate in the market. Business participation is limited to Montana residents, and the business license application process will begin by October 2021. A 20% tax is applicable to marijuana products; possession is limited to one ounce of flower and 8 grams of concentrate. Driving under the influence of cannabis is now illegal.
New Jersey – Recreational use legalized
As of January 1, 2021, the use of recreational marijuana will be legal here. Rules and regulations are pending but a specific marijuana excise tax is prohibited. Cannabis sales will be subjected to the normal state sales tax of 6.625%, with allowance for local governments to add an additional 2% sales tax. Marijuana Business Daily projects sales at $850 million to $950 million in New Jersey in the year 2024.
South Dakota – Medical and Recreational use legalized
In a groundbreaking move featured in US cannabis legalization news, South Dakota is now the first state to transition from strictly prohibitionist to complete legalization of cannabis use. As of July 1, 2021, adults aged 21 and older may possess and distribute up to one ounce of marijuana and may cultivate three cannabis plants. Patients who are prescribed medical cannabis may possess and purchase up to three ounces. Cannabis products will be taxed at 15%; the estimated $6.2 million revenue is allocated for public education and the state’s general fund. In the first year of recreational legality, sales are expected at $41.3 million; medical marijuana sales are estimated at $1.8 million.
Oregon – Therapeutic psilocybin mushrooms legalized, all drugs decriminalized
In two separate initiatives apart from US cannabis legalization news, Oregon became the first state to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic purposes and to decriminalize possession of all currently illicit drugs. Under a medically supervised environment, adults may now access ‘magic mushrooms’ without restrictions based on conditions. The decriminalization proposal removes criminal penalties for low-level drug possession offenses. Going forward, those caught possessing a controlled substance will be subject to a $100 fine or must complete a health assessment within 45 days.
Washington, D.C. – Psychedelics decriminalized
In the nation’s capital, Initiative 81 was approved despite projected failure. This initiative lowers the enforcement priority for the non-commercial possession, distribution, purchase or cultivation of psychedelic and hallucinogenic plants and fungi, including psilocybin, ayahuasca and ibogaine. It does not legalize commercial sales.
Views in the United States regarding drugs and their individual use are changing rapidly. Make important connections and stay in the information loop about US cannabis legalization news through the CannaCon expo events and enlightening social media postings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Upcoming conference dates include Chicago on February 12-13, Detroit on April 2-3, Oklahoma City on May 27-28 and Columbus on September 24-25.