With 33 legal medical marijuana states (plus DC), the wave of MMJ legalization is well and truly washing across the entire country. Eleven of those legal MMJ states have also fully legalized marijuana for recreational use, with several more looking set to do the same soon. These include Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, New York, and New Jersey.
Of the 17 states that have yet to legalize marijuana in any capacity, some appear to be digging in their heels. These include Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, which still seem far away from any type of legalization. However, several of the other non-legal states look to be getting closer to legalization, maybe even in 2020.
In this article, we will discuss the seven states that seem most likely to legalize medical marijuana sales in 2020.
Which States Have Legalized MMJ?
The following states have already legalized medical marijuana:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- Washington, DC
- West Virginia
Which States Have Recreational Dispensaries Open?
The following nine states (plus DC) have legalized MMJ and also recreational marijuana:
- Washington, DC
Which States Look Most Likely To Legalize Medical Marijuana Soon?
The following states look likely to be the next US states to legalize MMJ.
The legalization of medical marijuana enjoys majority support in South Dakota according to all polls. On November 3, 2020, South Dakotans will vote on Initiated Measure 26, which proposes to legalize MMJ.
On the same day, South Dakotans will also vote on Constitutional Amendment A, which will decide whether recreational marijuana should be permitted in the state. If the vote is passed, South Dakota will be the first state to vote to legalize medical and recreational marijuana on the same day.
Virginia’s medical marijuana program is evolving tentatively. Since a law was passed in 2017 that allowed patients with epilepsy to use cannabis oil, several amendments have been made to expand Virginia’s MMJ program.
From July 2020, patients with any condition will be allowed to be prescribed low-THC MMJ preparations, but MMJ flower will remain prohibited. It seems likely that Virginia’s tentative creep towards full MMJ legalization will continue.
In March 2020, the Alabama Senate approved the Compassion Act SB 165 by 22 votes to 11. This act set the stage for the legalization of medical marijuana in the Yellowhammer State.
But once the coronavirus pandemic hit, House business had to concentrate on handling the pandemic, and so the bill to legalize MMJ did not get voted on. It looks very likely that once the House reopens, a bill to legalize MMJ will be a top priority.
A February 2020 poll found that 90% of Kentuckians supported the legalization of medical marijuana. Governor Andy Beshear was elected in 2019 as a supporter of MMJ. In February 2020, the Kentucky House of Representatives voted in favor of HB 136, a bill that would legalize medical marijuana.
However, due to the pandemic, the MMJ bill was put on the back burner. The House adjourned for the year in April, with the bill still pending.
The South Carolina Legislature and House of Representatives held two subcommittee hearings on H. 3660 in the early months of 2020. The bill, if passed, will legalize medical marijuana in the Palmetto State.
Due to the pandemic, all further hearings have been postponed. But it looks inevitable that when the Legislature readjourns, the bill will be voted on. Several prominent South Carolina politicians have backed MMJ legalization, and it seems like only a matter of time before MMJ becomes available in the state.
A campaign to legalize MMJ in Idaho was gathering pace earlier this year. Out of the 55,057 signatures required to have a vote, 40,000 had been gathered before the coronavirus pandemic halted the campaign.
Polls suggest that Idaho citizens support legalizing medical marijuana by a wide margin. It is expected that a vote will take place on whether MMJ should be fully legalized in the state in 2022.
Mississippi will vote in November 2020 on whether or not to legalize MMJ in the state. There will be two competing measures on the ballot, Initiative 65 and Initiative 65A. I65 is what Mississippians for Compassionate Care has campaigned for: a clear, standard legal-MMJ initiative.
However, I65A is a different legal-MMJ measure that gives state lawmakers more scope to control and change regulations. The addition of the I65A proposal to the ballot has muddied the waters, but it seems likely that medical marijuana will be legalized, in some capacity, in the Magnolia State by early 2021.
Featured image by Morgan Lane on Unsplash