According to national polls — including Pew, Gallup, and CNN — more than 65% of Americans support legalizing cannabis for adults’ use. State-by-state polling shows majority or plurality support in every single state. Yet, only 17 states, home to 43% of the U.S. population, have passed laws to legalize and regulate cannabis for individuals over 21.
Those states that have legalized cannabis are blue, red, and purple: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. An 18th state, New Mexico, is poised legalize cannabis any day. On March 31, 2021, the New Mexico Legislature passed a bill to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis for adults 21 and older, which Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will sign once it lands on her desk.
MPP played a leading role in the campaigns to enact 10 of the 17 legalization laws, including the first two states to legalize cannabis through the state legislature, rather than the ballot box — Illinois and Vermont.
Below you will find more information about those laws and how they are working, along with materials to make the case for allowing adults to use a substance that is safer than alcohol.
NOTE: Most of the below documents have not yet been updated for the newest legalization states — New York and Virginia. New York’s bill was signed into law on March 31, 2021, while Virginia’s legislature approved amendments from Gov. Ralph Northam on April 7, 2021.
The Case for Legalizing Cannabis and Regulating Sales