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State-by-state breakdown of recreational use of cannabis

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In December 2020, the U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs voted to  reclassify cannabis, potentially making this decision a  watershed moment. This vote took the substance off of the strict list that includes dangerous and highly addictive drugs which in turn is  easing restrictions on research into marijuana’s therapeutic use  and medical benefits. While the vote  isn’t predicted to have an immediate impact on loosening international controls, many nations will look to global conventions like this for guidance.

The overhaul of cannabis policy around legalization has undoubtedly moved at a rapid pace over the past few years. While still a sticky topic on a federal level and unevenly addressed, 34 states in the U.S. have taken part in decriminalizing and legalizing medical use as well as recreational use of cannabis. Here is a state-by-state breakdown of legislation passed so far in 2021, a history of states that have already legalized recreational use and other legalization initiatives in the works.

State legislations that have passed so far in 2021

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York 

South Dakota

  • Session on April 28, 2021 to hear oral arguments about  Amendment A, which allows adults to purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to three plants for personal use. 
  • If affirmed by the state Supreme Court, the law will take effect on July 1, 2021. 




Legalized states


  • Passed in February 2015, became the  first state to license onsite cannabis consumption.
  • Adults can possess up to one ounce of cannabis as well as cultivate up to six plants for personal consumption, untaxed. 
  • Recreational shops opened in 2016 and on-site consumption was made possible in 2019 with proper licensure. 



  • Passed on November 9, 2016.
  • Adults who are not participating in the state’s medical cannabis program are allowed to legally grow (up to six plants) and possess personal use quantities of cannabis (up to one ounce). 
  • Retail sales of marijuana by state-licensed establishments began under the law on January 1, 2018, with  large-scale corporate players restricted from getting involved until 2023


District of Columbia 










Other states with marijuana law changes in the works

Other states with the legalization of recreational use of cannabis on the agenda this year include  Connecticut,  Delaware,  Florida,  Hawaii,  Iowa,  Kentucky,  Minnesota,  Nebraska,  North Dakota,  Pennsylvania,  Rhode Island,  Texas  and  Wyoming

Learn more about the impact of legalization on driving behavior in our latest  Cannabis Driving Statistics Research Report, and read up on how recreational use of marijuana can impact the neighborhood  here.

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