In 2021, cannabis-related legislature has been passing in numerous states, including conservative states like South Dakota, Mississippi and Montana. In fact, more states have legalized marijuana for either medicinal or recreational use than states that have not.
With states rapidly approving marijuana legislature, cannabis sales are quickly becoming a large component of the American economy. By 2022, marijuana retail sales are projected to grow significantly, reaching about 7.3 billion dollars. Navigating the marijuana market requires knowing the legalization status in each state, along with how cannabis businesses are regulated and taxed.
Below, you will learn about eight states from across the country that represent Americans’ views on the legality of cannabis for medicinal or recreational use, or both. Keep reading to learn which states have legalized recreational marijuana, which states are starting to allow medicinal marijuana, and how to optimize your business for the growing cannabis industry.
Missouri is known as a swing state when voting on various federal issues. Many other states look to Missouri as a frame of reference when voting themselves.
Known as the “Show Me” state, Missouri showed people their stance when they made medical marijuana legal back in 2018. Although Missouri legalized marijuana, people have to stay aware of laws about traveling with recreational marijuana. When Colorado initially legalized marijuana, Kansas laws on possession meant felonies or worse for anyone trying to bring it back to Missouri.
Despite legalizing medicinal marijuana, Missouri is a red state, meaning it does not always lean in favor of progressive initiatives and the legalization of recreational marijuana will likely take time. However, one Missouri Republican is advocating for legalization — Rep. Shamad Dogan — who sponsored a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana.
While Minnesota legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes in 2014, the state currently has a full legalization bill on the table. If passed, the bill will allow for cannabis apprenticeships and loans that further past decriminalization attempts. According to government leaders, those negatively affected by marijuana laws may have a voice as to their future.
House majority leader Ryan Winkler has spoken openly about the yet-to-be-drafted bill. He has echoed some of his constituents and their desire to create an inclusive, just industry. Gov. Tim Walz has also directed Minnesota state agencies to prepare to implement reform once the legislation passes. In other words, people are already discussing how to avoid a corporate-run industry ignores those once punished for running a similar business.
If Minnesota gets the bill to the Republican-held Senate next year, the bill will be critiqued for its effect on taxes, intoxication rates, and ripple effects not yet out in the open.
Currently, Florida residents can use cannabis for medicinal purposes but that’s it. Medical marijuana patients are not allowed to grow weed at home. In addition to already limitive legalization, some members of the Florida state legislature are attempting to restrict the amount of THC permitted in Florida’s medicinal cannabis, which affects the plant’s potency.
However, Democrats in Florida are pushing a bill that would legalize cannabis for recreational purposes. Although the bill has yet to make it onto any committee agendas, one poll found that 59% of Florida residents would be in favor of the state legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
4. North and South Dakota
After a couple of failed attempts, North Dakota finally legalized medicinal marijuana in 2016. However, legalizing recreational weed is proving to be even more difficult for the state. One initiative that got on the ballot in 2018 was rejected by nearly 60% of voters. Still, advocates are persisting in campaigning for ending marijuana prohibition in North Dakota.
On the other hand, South Dakota took far longer to legalize medicinal marijuana. However, South Dakota did legalize cannabis for medicinal use in 2020, despite being one of the most conservative states in the country. Surprisingly, South Dakota residents also voted to legalize recreational marijuana, but Gov. Kristi Noem remains a staunch critic of legalization, making South Dakota citizens still unable to purchase weed.
5. New Jersey
The Garden State began taking its nickname a bit more seriously when they made medicinal marijuana accessible in 2018. Although medicinal marijuana was signed into law for New Jersey in 2010, it was severely limited by Gov. Chris Christie. However, in 2018, incoming Gov. Phil Murphy expanded the law to apply to a wider scope of conditions, making it easier for patients to obtain medicinal marijuana.
Later, in 2020, New Jersey voted to legalize recreational weed as well, making marijuana completely legal in the state. Since legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes, New Jersey has been scrambling to form a Cannabis Commission that will be able to regulate the market.
In 2022, Gov. Murphy signed the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance and Marketplace Modernization (CREAMM) Act to legalize the sale and use of recreational marijuana. This act allows New Jersey residents aged 21 and over to purchase recreational marijuana at any licensed dispensary within the state.
In addition to legalizing recreational marijuana, the CREAMM Act also decriminalizes marijuana possession, requiring law enforcement and state courts to wipe marijuana-related offenses from citizens’ criminal records. It also calls for the State Legislature to put revenue from marijuana sales toward financial support initiatives for individuals in Impact Zones — communities disproportionally affected by the War on Drugs.
Recreational marijuana sales in New Jersey are subject to the state’s 6.625% sales tax. Like Maine, Alaska, Colorado and Nevada, New Jersey imposes a weight-based excise tax on recreational marijuana.
6. New Mexico
New Mexico is making headway as far as the cannabis industry is concerned. It recently became the latest state to fully legalize marijuana when Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a legalization bill into law. New Mexico’s Democrat senator, Jacob Candelaria, introduced the bill and testified on its behalf. This law, called the Cannabis Regulation Act, states that New Mexican adults 21 and over can legally possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis. This law also allows New Mexican residents to grow their own marijuana, with each person permitted to have up to six mature plants.
After this bill was signed, any person with a past marijuana offense that would now result in a lower sentence or become legal became eligible to have their records automatically expunged.
According to Candelaria, New Mexicans across the state felt similarly on the issue. Rural and urban areas alike were largely in favor. Many New Mexico residents agreed with Gov. Lujan Grisham and her statement that recreational cannabis would be the next frontier, so to speak. She also empowered New Mexicans to consider the tens of thousands of jobs and $100 million in annual revenue that recreational cannabis could bring to New Mexico.
Still, residents felt the weight of taking an underground market back up to the surface. Young people and people of color have many questions about both the past and future state of the cannabis industry. With retail sales set to begin in 2022, the state as a whole is concerned about regulations and equity.
The sale of recreational marijuana became legal in New Mexico on April 1, 2022, allowing New Mexican adults 21 and older to make retail cannabis purchases. The law states that adult residents may purchase up to 2 ounces of marijuana — or comparable amounts in edible cannabis and liquid extract — from dispensaries and other licensed retailers within the state. However, they may keep a larger supply at home.
New Mexico imposes a 12% excise tax on recreational marijuana in addition to the state’s 5.13% sales tax. This excise tax is expected to reach 18% by the year 2030.
In 2020, Arizona overwhelmingly voted to fully legalize marijuana. Making recreational weed legal updated the state’s old policy that legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes in 2010. Now, adults who are 21 and older in Arizona can freely use cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes.
Although the state only recently legalized marijuana for recreational use, it did not take long for Arizona lawmakers to sort out the cannabis market rules and hand out licenses to dispensaries. In fact, the first recreational cannabis sales in Arizona were already made in late January.
8. New York
In early 2021, New York fully legalized marijuana. The progressive legislation passed by New York allows adults 21 and older to smoke marijuana anywhere cigarettes are allowed, which is a first for any state. Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who signed the bill into law, looked forward to the fiscal benefits of legalizing marijuana.
Those already within the cannabis industry hope that the full legalization of weed will help small businesses expand. As a result of the bill, New York is predicted to add about 50,000 jobs and eventually about $350 million for the state annually. However, New York weed dispensaries could still take years to open up, as the state still needs to establish rules and a proposed cannabis board.
Other States That Have Legalized Recreational Marijuana
Below is a complete list of all the states in which recreational marijuana is legal and when they legalized it.
- Colorado: November 2012
- Washington: November 2012
- Alaska: November 2014
- Oregon: November 2014
- Washington D.C.: November 2014
- California: November 2016
- Maine: November 2016
- Massachusetts: November 2016
- Nevada: November 2016
- Michigan: November 2018
- Vermont: January 2018
- Illinois: May 2019
- New Jersey: November 2020
- Montana: November 2020
- South Dakota: November 2020
- Arizona: November 2020
- New York: March 2021
- Virginia: April 2021
- New Mexico: April 2021
- Connecticut: June 2021
- Rhode Island: May 2022
Capitalizing on the Cannabis Industry
As more and more states begin to legalize recreational weed, it seems as if marijuana becoming fully legal in the United States is only a matter of time. In the meantime, people are still looking at possible changes in taxes, revenue, even upending old court rulings.
If you are one of these people, you could benefit from a free consultation with Polston Tax Resolution & Accounting. We provide specific cannabis CPA accounting and tax services at Polston Tax, empowering you to meet the future with a smile. We also provide testimonials of customers just like you. For more information about running a successful cannabis business, contact Polston Tax today.
More On Cannabis CPA Accounting & Tax Services
- Cannabis CPA Accounting & Tax Services
- How Your Business Can Pay Less Cannabis Taxes
- Cannabis Tax Season: How to File Marijuana Taxes
- Common Accounting Problems That Cannabis Businesses Face
- When to Hire a Small Business Accountant for Your Cannabis Company
- Can’t Pay Taxes: 4 Options Cannabis Companies Should Know