State legislators in 2021 enacted over 50 laws liberalizing marijuana policies in more than 25 states, according to a report issued today by the National Organization of the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
“State lawmakers took unprecedented steps this year to repeal marijuana prohibition laws and to provide relief to those millions of Americans who have suffered as a result of them,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said.
Specifically, legislatures in five states — Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Virginia — enacted laws legalizing adult-use marijuana possession and regulating retail cannabis markets. These legislative victories mark a significant change from past years, when similar laws were primarily enacted via citizens’ initiatives, not by legislative action. In total, 18 states — comprising nearly one-half of the US population — now have laws on the books regulating adult use marijuana production and retail sales.
Many states also took actions facilitating the expungement or sealing of past marijuana convictions. Over the past several months, state officials have vacated an estimated 2.2 million marijuana convictions.
Numerous states in 2021 also enacted legislation expanding medical cannabis access and stimulating greater diversity among licensed marijuana businesses.
“As we approach the 2022 legislative session and the elections next November, it is important for lawmakers of all political persuasions to recognize that advocating for marijuana policy reforms is a political opportunity, not a political liability,” NORML’s Paul Armentano said. “These policies are popular among voters, regardless of political party.”
The full text of NORML’s report is available online here.
NORML advocates for changes in public policy so that the responsible possession and use of marijuana by adults is no longer subject to criminal penalties. NORML further advocates for a regulated commercial cannabis market so that activities involving the for-profit production and retail sale of cannabis and cannabis products are safe, transparent, consumer-friendly, and are subject to state and/or local licensure. Finally, NORML advocates for additional changes in legal and regulatory policies so that those who use marijuana responsibly no longer face either social stigma or workplace discrimination, and so that those with past criminal records for marijuana-related violations have the opportunity to have their records automatically expunged.