States with Cannabis on the 2020 Election Ballot (and 2021 Initiatives)

The cannabis industry has had a rollercoaster ride with its legal status in the United States. As of today, the plant is legal in 11 states for adults over the age of 21 and legal for medical use in 33 states. 

Voting in the 2020 presidential election –as well as your local election ballot– will determine the protection of a number of important rights, including:

  • Future voting rights
  • Women’s rights
  • Reproductive rights
  • Immigrant rights
  • LGBTQ+ rights
  • Healthcare rights
  • Environmental rights
Be sure to use your right to vote this November! Check your registration and election deadlines at Vote.org.

When it comes to cannabis, six states will be introducing cannabis legalization or decriminalization on the 2020 Election ballot: Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, and South Dakota.

Check out our compiled list of these states along with legislative updates regarding the progress of legalization or decriminalization in all 50 states. 

*Note this list does not note states with restricted use-only laws that approve CBD for specified medical conditions. 

Alabama

The Alabama Senate voted in March of 2020 to pass a bill –the Compassion Act– which would legalize medical cannabis in the state. The bill was thought to enjoy support in the House as well. 

However, due to coronavirus, the Compassion Act never made its way to the House for a vote, thereby stalling any efforts in Alabama to legalize cannabis for medical use. 

Alaska

Cannabis is fully legal, both recreationally and medically, in the state of Alaska. 

Arizona

Medical cannabis is legal in Arizona. An initiative to legalize adult-use (recreational) cannabis will be on the 2020 Election ballot. 

Arkansas

Medical cannabis is legal in Arkansas. Due to a failure to meet the deadline of July 3, 2020 for enough signatures, the vote to legalize recreational cannabis has been pushed to 2021. 

California

Cannabis is fully legal, both recreationally and medically, in the state of California.

Colorado

Cannabis is fully legal, both recreationally and medically, in the state of Colorado.

Connecticut

Medical cannabis is legal in Connecticut. In early March of 2020, the review of a bill that would allow adult-use of cannabis was stalled due to the coronavirus canceling the Connecticut legislative session.

Delaware

Medical cannabis is legal in Delaware. Due to the legislature adjourning its 2020 session at the end of June, the recreational legalization bill — HB 110 — was pending action in the House Appropriations Committee and was not taken up before adjournment. Now, the legalization effort shifts to 2021 after a new half of the Delaware Senate seats and the entire House are elected in this year’s election.

Florida

Medical cannabis is legal in Florida. A total of 766,200 verified signatures must be received by February 1, 2020, in order to appear on the November 2021 Florida marijuana ballot.

Georgia

Both recreational and medical cannabis are not legal in the state of Georgia. While there are no significant steps being taken to legalize either one, the Georgia Senate Democratic Caucus proposed the Georgia Justice Act in June 2020 as a broad measure that includes more than a dozen provisions to address police brutality and racism. One of those provisions is reducing the penalty for simple possession of marijuana to a fine with no jail time.

Hawaii

Medical cannabis is legal in Hawaii. The last bill introduced to legalize cannabis for adult-use was killed in 2019. Though there has not been any movement to reintroduce the bill, Hawaii has decriminalized simple possession (of three grams or less).

Idaho

Both recreational and medical cannabis are not legal in the state of Idaho. However, the Idaho Cannabis Coalition is aiming to get medical cannabis on the ballot for November 2022. 

Illinois

Cannabis is fully legal, both recreationally and medically, in the state of Illinois.

Indiana

Both adult-use and medical cannabis are not legal in the state of Indiana. The state has some of the harshest cannabis laws in the country with simple possession of even a single joint being punishable by up to a year of incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000.

A bill to decriminalize possession of cannabis died in committee during the 2020 legislative session. 

Iowa

Both recreational and medical cannabis are not legal in the state of Iowa. Under current law, first-offense possession of even a single joint is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. 

Kansas

Both recreational and medical cannabis are not legal in the state of Kansas. After cutting its 2020 legislative session short amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Kansas legislature held a short, special session in June 2020 to review HB 2017. The House bill would have legalized medical cannabis, but died in committee, shifting the focus to November 2021. 

Kentucky

Both recreational and medical cannabis are not legal in the state of Kentucky. In February of 2020, the Kentucky House of Representatives voted 65-30 to pass a medical cannabis bill, HB 136. However, as COVID-19 hit the U.S., the Senate shifted its focus to the commonwealth’s pandemic response before adjourning for the year, pushing the review of this bill to the next legislative session.

Louisiana

Medical cannabis is legal in Louisiana. While adult-use cannabis is still illegal, state lawmakers advanced three marijuana reform bills in May of 2020 that includes legislation that would dramatically expand the state’s current medical cannabis program and offer protections for banks that service marijuana businesses.

Maine

Cannabis is fully legal, both recreationally and medically, in the state of Maine.

Maryland

Medical cannabis is legal in Maryland. Leaders of Maryland’s General Assembly created a work group in 2019 to study legalizing recreational use of cannabis, but ultimately came to the consensus they would not recommend legislation to legalize cannabis for adult use in 2020. Advocates are hopeful that the work group will review its work next year, and put the legislature on track to seriously consider legalization in 2021. 

Massachusetts

Cannabis is fully legal, both recreationally and medically, in the state of Massachusetts.

Michigan

Cannabis is fully legal, both recreationally and medically, in the state of Michigan.

Minnesota

Medical cannabis is legal in Minnesota. A bill to legalize and regulate adult-use cannabis was introduced in May of 2002. Unfortunately, the bill was unable to advance before the legislature adjourned in May due to the coronavirus. 

Mississippi

Both recreational and medical cannabis are not legal in the state of Mississippi. However, the vote for legalizing medical cannabis will be put on the 2020 Election ballot. 

Missouri

Medical cannabis is legal in Missouri. An initiative to legalize adult-use cannabis is aimed at November 2021. 

Montana

Medical cannabis is legal in Montana. The state will be voting on adult-use (recreational) cannabis legalization in the 2020 Election. 

Nebraska

Both recreational and medical cannabis are not legal in the state of Nebraska. Unfortunately, the initiative to legalize medical cannabis was removed from the 2020 November ballot by the State Supreme Court following a legal challenge that the initiative violates the single-subject rule. 

Nevada

Cannabis is fully legal, both recreationally and medically, in the state of Nevada.

New Hampshire

Medical cannabis is legal in New Hampshire. While the New Hampshire State Senate has made it clear that they are not ready to approve adult-use cannabis, a bill –HB 1648– that would legalize possession and limited home cultivation for adults 21 and older was passed by the House in February of 2020. Unfortunately, in June, it became apparent that N.H. Senate leaders intended to use COVID-19 as an excuse to avoid voting on the legalization bill and the bill is currently laid on table. 

New Jersey

Medical cannabis is legal in New Jersey. The state will be voting on a referendum to legalize adult-use cannabis in the 2020 Election.

New Mexico

Medical cannabis is legal in New Mexico. An adult-use legalization bill –SB 115– was unable to make it through the legislature during its short 30-day session. The focus now shifts to 2021.

New York

Medical cannabis is legal in New York. Although adult-use legalization was included in the 2020 budget proposal to the legislature, COVID-19 upended the legislative session, shifting priorities and making the issue difficult to resolve before the deadline.

North Carolina

Both recreational and medical cannabis are not legal in the state of North Carolina. In March of 2019, a comprehensive medical cannabis bill was introduced to the legislature. The bill carried over to 2020, but it was not given a committee hearing or vote before the legislature adjourned. 

North Dakota

Medical cannabis is legal in North Dakota. Legalize ND states that they “are moving forward with continuing petitioning, for the December 15, 2020, deadline to make the 2022 primary ballot.”

Ohio

Medical cannabis is legal in Ohio. Sponsors in support of legalizing adult-use cannabis are aiming to be on the November 2021 marijuana Ohio ballot. 

Oklahoma

Medical cannabis is legal in Oklahoma. The legalization of recreational cannabis is being aimed at the November 2021 ballot. 

Oregon

Cannabis is fully legal, both recreationally and medically, in the state of Oregon. However, they will be considering two separate drug reform measures on the 2020 Election ballot, one of which would decriminalize small amounts of all drugs, including cannabis. 

Pennsylvania

Medical cannabis is legal in Pennsylvania. In August of 2020, Gov. Tom Wolf called on the Pennsylvania legislature to legalize recreational cannabis during the next fall legislative session.

Rhode Island

Medical cannabis is legal in Rhode Island. In January of 2020, a budget bill detailing a plan to legalize and regulate cannabis for adults 21 and older was brought before legislation. Unfortunately, the leaders of the General Assembly dismissed the prospect of legalizing cannabis for adults in 2020.

South Carolina

Both recreational and medical cannabis are not legal in the state of South Carolina. Hearings on a South Carolina Compassionate Care Act were held during the 2020 legislative session but were ultimately unable to continue as the legislature began to furlough to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. All medical cannabis efforts will be delayed until 2021.

South Dakota

South Dakota will be voting on both recreational and medical cannabis legalization during this upcoming 2020 November ballot.

Tennessee

Both recreational and medical cannabis are not legal in the state of Tennessee. In March of 2020, the State Senate passed a medical cannabis legalization bill except with the amendment that the bill would only take effect if marijuana were reclassified on the federal level, which still bans cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act.

Texas

Both recreational and medical cannabis are not legal in the state of Texas. There are no significant efforts being made to legalize or decriminalize cannabis at this time. 

Utah

Medical cannabis is legal in Utah. There are no significant efforts being made to legalize or decriminalize recreational cannabis at this time. 

Vermont

Cannabis is fully legal, both recreationally and medically, in the state of Vermont.

Virginia

Both recreational and medical cannabis are not legal in the state of Virginia. However, a number of cannabis reform bills have sped through with approval, including a decriminalization bill that contained a provision calling for the establishment of a working group to study and make recommendations about adult-use marijuana legalization. 

Washington

Cannabis is fully legal, both recreationally and medically, in the state of Washington.

West Virginia

Medical cannabis is legal in West Virginia. A bill to legalize adult use cannabis had been reviewed by several committees within the House but was unable to make it to a vote on the floor. 

Wisconsin

Both recreational and medical cannabis are not legal in the state of Wisconsin. A bill –AB 220– was introduced in May of 2019 that would create a legalized system for both recreational and medicinal use of cannabis. Unfortunately, it failed to pass during this legislative session. 

Wyoming

Both recreational and medical cannabis are not legal in the state of Wyoming. Unfortunately, Wyoming is among the states that are most resistant to the movement toward full legalization of cannabis in the United States. There are no significant efforts being made to legalize or decriminalize cannabis at this time. 

 

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