Last updated: January 8, 2020
Only 23 states allow citizen-initiated ballot initiatives, meaning in most states the only way to reform marijuana laws is via the legislature. With polls showing that 66% of Americans support making marijuana use legal and around 90% support allowing medical marijuana, lawmakers are increasingly getting the message that constituents want them to act on sensible and humane marijuana policies.
Although most states’ 2020 legislative sessions haven’t convened yet, dozens of cannabis policy reform bills are already pending. Some states’ bills from 2019 carry over to 2020, and in other states, new bills have already been filed.
The below lists states where bills have been introduced to adopt new laws to legalize marijuana for adults, to adopt effective medical marijuana laws, or to replace possible jail time with fines for marijuana possession. Click on the state names below to learn more about efforts in your state and to take action in support of marijuana policy reform.
Marijuana Legalization Legislation
States with bills to legalize — and in most cases regulate — marijuana for adults: 10 and the U.S. Virgin Islands
- Delaware (HB 110; the House Revenue and Finance Committee advanced the bill in an 8-3 vote on June 5, 2019)
- Hawaii (HB 1515, HB 1581, HB 708, SB 606, SB 686, and SB 702)
- Iowa (SF 469)
- Minnesota (HF 2285, HF 265, HF 465, SF 2840, SF 619, and HF 420; HF 265 and HF 465 propose a constitutional amendment that would go to voters in 2020; the Senate bills were voted down in committee in a 6-3 vote)
- New Hampshire (HB 1648, HB 1663, and HB 481; in 2019, the House passed HB 481, but a Senate committee sent it to interim study to die; the other bills were introduced in 2020)
- New York (A. 1617 and S. 1527)
- Pennsylvania (HB 50, HB 1899, SB 527, and SB 350)
- Tennessee (HB 235 and SB 256 would legalize under an ounce of marijuana, without legalizing sales or cultivation)
- Virginia (HB 269 and HB 87 would legalize under an ounce of marijuana without legalizing sales or cultivation)
- Wisconsin (SB377 and AB 220)
- U.S. Virgin Islands (19-0061)
Several other states’ legislatures are expected to consider legalization in 2020, including Connecticut, New Mexico, and Rhode Island. In addition, the New Jersey placed legalization on the November 2020 ballot. Meanwhile, efforts are underway to put legalization on the 2020 ballot in additional states.
Ten states have already passed laws to regulate marijuana like alcohol: Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. All but Illinois were by ballot initiative. An 11th, Vermont, allows adults to possess and cultivate marijuana, but does not yet allow regulated sales. Vermont’s S. 54 and H. 196 would allow and regulate commercial cultivation, product manufacture, and sales. S. 54 passed the state Senate and will be taken up in the House in early 2020.
Bills to Remove Possible Jail Time — Often Imposing a Fine — for Simple Possession (“Decriminalization”)
States with decriminalization bills: 6
- Indiana (SB 114)
- Iowa (HF 93)
- New Jersey (S472, A3468, and S1926 were introduced during the 2018-2019 legislative session and can be considered before the 2020 legislature convenes in mid-January)
- Oklahoma (HB 2614)
- South Carolina (H 3276 and H 4313)
- Virginia (HB 265, HB 301, HB 481, and SB 2)
Twenty-six states and Washington, D.C. have decriminalized or legalized marijuana possession.
Effective Medical Marijuana Bills
States with bills to create comprehensive medical cannabis programs: 8
- Georgia (SB 232)
- Iowa (SF 104)
- Kansas (HB 2163, SB 113, HB 2303, and SB 195)
- Nebraska (LB 110; passed the unicameral legislature’s Judiciary Committee on May 10 in a 5-1 vote, with one absent and one present but not voting)
- North Carolina (HB 401)
- South Carolina (H. 3660, S. 366, H. 3081, and H. 3272; S. 366 passed a Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee and is in the full committee)
- Tennessee (SB 486 and HB 637)
- Wisconsin (SB 377; would allow both medical and adult-use cannabis)
In addition to states where legislatures are considering medical marijuana, some states’ voters will have the opportunity to consider the issue themselves. South Dakota and Mississippi medical marijuana measures have already qualified for the November 2020 ballot. Medical cannabis signature drives are also underway in Idaho and Nebraska.
Thirty-three states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have effective medical marijuana laws.
Don’t see your state?
If you live in a state that still prohibits marijuana and no lawmakers have taken the lead to change that, send your state legislators a note to ask them to stand up for humane and sensible marijuana policies. Take a few moments to email them in support of medical marijuana, decriminalization, or legalizing and regulating marijuana. And wherever you live, please ask your member of Congress and U.S. senators to support legislation to protect individuals who are complying with state medical marijuana and legalization laws.