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Cannabis Policy Reform: State Legislation Update

State Cannabis Policy Updates

Before we jump into state marijuana policy updates, an exciting new federal addition came up in late August 2020 that would have a large impact on the cannabis industry.

The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act bill would officially decriminalize marijuana, removing it from the list of scheduled substances, and “establishes a process to expunge convictions and conduct sentencing review hearings related to federal cannabis offenses.”

A bill like this would overhaul the cannabis industry as we know it, though it’s too early to know whether it has a chance of passing or not. We will be watching this closely as it develops.

In the meantime, there has been a lot of updates and changes to cannabis policy on a state level, all of which are listed out below.

State Cannabis Policy Updates & Changes:

Note: Much of the data presented below was gathered from the Marijuana Policy Project 2020 Marijuana Policy Reform Legislation page.

StateChanges & Updates To Marijuana LegislationLearn More
ArizonaAs of July 2020, marijuana legalization is officially on the November general election ballot.Read the Ballot Measures Here
ConnecticutConnecticut added chronic pain treatment to the list of approved medical marijuana uses in June 2020.

Gov. Lamont’s Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation Bill (Bill No. 16) – Would legalize cannabis use for adults aged 21 yr or older. Remains stalled from COVID-related delays.
Read Governor’s Bill No. 16
GeorgiaGeorgia Justice Act – This is mainly targeting police reform and racism, but a decriminalization provision would reduce marijuana possession penalties to a simple fine without jail time.Read the Georgia Justice Act
HawaiiAs of January 2020, Hawaii decriminalized marijuana possession up to 3 grams with a fine and no jail time.Read the bill
IowaBill HF 2589 – In June 2020, this bill was passed to amend and update the state’s medical marijuana laws. Included in the changes are:
– Expanded qualifying conditions.
– Increased types of medical professionals who can recommend cannabis.
– Allow for the ban of cannabis by property owners and employers.
– Exclude medical cannabis from workers compensation and health care requirements.
Read House File 2589
LouisianaThree bills were passed to adjust the state’s medical marijuana program:
HB 819 – expanded qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.
HB 211 – protect banks involved with medical cannabis from state penalties
HB 418 – protects physicians and medical facilities who are involved with medical cannabis
Read HB 819

Read HB 211

Read HB 418
MarylandThe governor vetoed HB 83 after passing through state legislatures. HB 83 would “shield” (protect) possession charges that occurred before October 1, 2014 from showing up on the publicly accessible Judiciary’s “Case Search” website.Read HB 83
MinnesotaThe house majority leader introduced HF 4632 to legalize cannabis. The progressive bill is based on input from the community and cannabis organizations and is waiting to heard by the state senate.

Governor issued an executive order to increase access to medical cannabis during COVID-19.
Read HF 4632
MississippiTwo opposing bills will be voted on in November.
Initiative 65 would allow critically ill patients access to medical cannabis with permission from their doctors.
Initiative 65A gives lawmakers more control over the program.
Read Initiative 65

Read Initiative 65A
MontanaTwo marijuana legalization bills on the general election ballot in November:
CI-118 would amend the state constitution to allow legislatures to legally define “adult” in regards to marijuana consumption
I-190 “legalizes the possession and use of limited amounts of marijuana for adults over the age of 21.”
Read CI-118

Read I-190
New HampshireHB 1648,  which would have legalized cannabis possession and use for adults 21 and over, passed in the state House in February. The bill has since stalled in the state senate as of June.Read More About HB 1648
New JerseyA decriminalization bill (S. 2535) passed the House vote and is up for a vote in the state Senate.

In addition, the legalization of cannabis in New Jersey is on the November general election ballot as bill SCR 183.
Read S. 2535

Read SCR 183
New YorkGovernor Cuomo included marijuana legalization in the initial budget plans for 2020, but it did not appear in the final version released in April. COVID-19 issues took precedence.

OhioThe Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 3 to increase the amount of decriminalized marijuana possession to 200 grams and reduced penalties for other drug offenses.

The State Medical Board included cachexia in approved medical conditions.
Read Senate Bill 3

Read More About Ohio’s Medical Cannabis Program
South DakotaHave two initiatives on the upcoming general election ballot relating to medical marijuana and legalization:
Initiated Measure 26 would create a medical marijuana program from the state.
Constitutional Amendment A would allow access to medical marijuana and legalize the possession of marijuana by adults 21 years old and over.
Read Initiated Measure 26

Read Constitutional Amendment A
VirginiaThe newly passed marijuana decriminalization acts (from bills SB 2/ HB 972) went into effect in July 2020.

Improvements were made to the medical marijuana program including:
– Legalizing THC and CBD medical products for patients.
– Permitting 25 dispensaries to open.
Read HB 972

Read SB 2
West VirginiaWhile the state passed a medical marijuana program in 2017, access has been slow to rollout. Recent updates in July 2020 show progress, though, including:
– Passing SB 339  which allows “dry leaf or plant form”
– Issued statement from the director of the state’s medical cannabis program that they are working to finalize grower applications by the end of the summer
Read SB 339
State Cannabis Policy Updates and Changes

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