Last updated: October 19, 2019
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 for allowing medical marijuana, lawmakers are increasingly getting the message that constituents want them to act on sensible and humane marijuana policies.
On June 25, 2019, Illinois made history when it became the first state to approve legalizing and regulating adult-use marijuana legislatively, rather than via voter initiative. MPP led the lobbying campaign and played a key role in crafting the measure. (Vermont became the first to legalize adult’s possession and cultivation — but not sales — legislatively in 2018. MPP also played the leading role in that advocacy effort and is continuing to work to regulate sales.)
Legislatures have approved several other significant marijuana policy reforms this year. In Hawaii, New Mexico, and North Dakota, the governors signed decriminalization bills into law. Meanwhile, medical cannabis was enacted in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam’s Senate and governor approved legalizing and regulating marijuana for adults' use. Unfortunately, while the Iowa Legislature sent Gov. Kim Reynolds a medical cannabis bill, she vetoed it.
The below lists 2019 state bills 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.
We also encourage you to check out MPP's Marijuana Policy Progress Report 2019. The report — which was released on July 22, 2019 — includes MPP's top 10 list of marijuana policy reforms this year, as well as a state-by-state run down of marijuana policy reform bills that were taken up by state legislatures. Find out if your state expanded its medical marijuana or adult-use law, eased record expungements, or made other improvements.
Marijuana Legalization Legislation
States with bills to legalize — and in most cases regulate — marijuana for adults: 27 and Guam
- Arizona (SRC 1022, which would have referred a statutory ballot measure to voters; the bill died in committee)
- Connecticut (HB 7371, SB 1085, SB 1138, HB 5595, HB 6863, SB 496, SB 690 SB 744; HB 7371 passed out of the General Law Committee, SB 1085 passed out of Judiciary, and SB 1138 passed out of Finance; the three pieces of a legalization package are on the floor but did not get a vote before adjournment)
- Delaware (HB 110; the House Revenue and Finance Committee advanced the bill in an 8-3 vote on June 5; it now advances to the Appropriations Committee; the legislature adjourned but the bill carries over to 2020)
- Florida (S. 1780, H. 1117, S. 1298; S. 1298 proposed a constitutional amendment that would go to voters for adults to grow, possess, and use cannabis; the legislature adjourned without voting on the bills)
- Hawaii (HB 1515, HB 1581, HB 708, SB 606, SB 686, SB 702; these bills did not advance out of committee before a deadline)
- Illinois (SB 7, HB 902, HB 2477;HB 1438; the Senate approved the substitute bill (HB1438) in a 38-17 vote on May 29 and the House followed suit on May 31, 66-47; Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the bill into law on June 25, 2019)
- Indiana (HB 1460, HB 1685, SB 213; did not advance out of committee before a deadline)
- Iowa (SF 469; did not advance before a legislative deadline)
- Kentucky (SB 80; the legislature adjourned without voting on the bill)
- Louisiana (HB 509, HB 564; these bills were defeated in the House Criminal Justice Committee)
- Maryland (SB 771 and SB 656; HB 632 proposed a constitutional amendment that would go to voters in 2020; these bills did not advance before the legislature adjourned)
- 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)
- Mississippi (SB 2349, died in committee)
- Missouri (HB 157, HB 551, died in committee)
- Montana (HB 770; did not advance before the legislature adjourned)
- New Hampshire (HB 481; the House voted 200-163 to pass the bill on April 4, 2019, sending the bill to the Senate; on May 30, the Senate voted to delay action on the bill until January 2020)
- New Jersey (S 830, A 1348, A 3819; the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee each voted on November 26 to advance S2703 and A4497; both bills carried over to 2019; the Senate Judiciary Committee reported a revised bill out on March 18, 2019)
- New Mexico (HR 356, SB 577; the House approved HR 356 in a 36-34 vote, then the bill died in the Senate Finance committee; the legislature has adjourned)
- New York (A. 1617, S. 1527, and S. 1509 and A. 2009, which were budget bills that included taxing and regulating cannabis for adults’ use; the legislature adjourned without voting on legalization)
- North Carolina (SB 58)
- Pennsylvania (HB 50, HB 1899, SB 527, SB 350)
- Rhode Island (H 5828 and H 5151; H 5151 was a budget bill that includes taxing and regulating cannabis for adults’ use; however, the budget that passed the House did not include legalization, and the legislature adjourned without voting on H 5828)
- Tennessee (HB 235, SB 256 would legalize under an ounce of marijuana, without legalizing sales or cultivation; the legislature adjourned for 2019, but the two-year session reconvenes in 2020)
- Texas (SB 1581, HJR 108, SJR 8; the latter two proposed a constitutional amendment that would go to voters in 2020; the bills did not advance before the legislature adjourned)
- Virginia (HB 2371, HB 2373, both of which died in committee)
- West Virginia (SB 143, HB 2331, HB 2376, HB 3108; these bills did not advance before the legislature adjourned)
- Wisconsin (SB377; AB 220; the governor’s budget — AB 56/SB 59 — would have legalized possession and cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana; the budget that was approved did not include those provisions)
- Guam (the Senate approved Bill 32‐35 on March 27 in an 8-7 vote, and it was signed into law by Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero on April 3, 2019)
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: 17
- Alabama (SB 98, HB 96; the Senate Judiciary Committee approved SB 98 in a 11-0 vote on April 17; after being amended to apply to only five grams, HB 96 was voted down in the House Judiciary Committee in a 5-6 vote; the legislature has adjourned)
- Arizona (SB 1284, HB 2555; the legislature adjourned without voting on the bills)
- Arkansas (HB 1972; did not advance before the legislature adjourned)
- Florida (H. 1289, S. 1714; the legislature adjourned without voting on the bills)
- Hawaii (HB 1383, HB 434; HB 1383 — which only includes up to three grams — has passed both chambers and was sent to the governor; Gov. David Ige signed the bill into law on July 9, 2019)
- Idaho (H. 140, an extremely limited measure that only applied to those with no prior drug offenses; died in committee)
- Iowa (HF 93; died in committee)
- Indiana (HB 1283, HB 1540, HB 1658; did not advance out of committee before a deadline)
- Kentucky (SB 82, HB 265; the legislature adjourned without voting on the bills)
- Louisiana (HB 59; was withdrawn prior to introduction)
- New Jersey (S472, A3468, S1926)
- New Mexico (SB 323; passed the legislature and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the bill into law on April 3, 2019)
- North Dakota (HB 1155, HB 1050; the legislature passed HB 1050 and it was signed into law by Gov. Doug Burgum; it only applies to those 21 and older and carries a hefty criminal fine)
- Oklahoma (HB 2614, SB 1030; SB 1030 has passed both chambers, but in different versions; as passed by the House, it would have reduced the penalty to a misdemeanor fine of up to $400; however, the conference committee version did not include decriminalization)
- South Carolina (HB 3276; did not advance before a legislative deadline, carries over to 2020)
- Texas (HB 63, SB 156; HB 63 passed the House in a 98-43 vote on April 29, but was not brought to a vote in the Senate; it would have imposed a $500 criminal fine for possession of up to an ounce)
- Virginia (SB 997, HB 2079, HB 2370, HB 2644; HB 2079, HB 2370, and HB 2644 stalled in committee; SB 997 was defeated in committee)
Twenty-six states and Washington, D.C. have decriminalized or legalized marijuana possession (including Hawaii, New Mexico, and North Dakota's new laws).
Effective Medical Marijuana Bills
States with bills to create comprehensive medical cannabis programs: 14, plus the U.S. Virgin Islands, where the bill has been signed into law
- Alabama (HB 234, SB 236; on May 9, 2019, the Alabama Senate passed SB 236 in a 17 -6 vote; it applies only to adults 19 and older; the bill was amended in the House to merely form a study commission on the issue and was signed by the governor in that limited form)
- Georgia (SB 232; the legislature adjourned without passing it, but the legislature did pass, and Gov. Kemp signed, a bill to allow in-state access to up to 5% THC medical cannabis oil)
- Iowa (SF 104, HF 732; HF 732 passed the legislature but was vetoed by the governor; the speaker refused to call a special session for an override; the bill would have removed a 0.3% THC cap and instead allow cannabis preparations with up to 25 grams of THC every 90 days, or more with a waiver from the patient's healthcare provider)
- Indiana (SB 357, HB 1384, HB 1535; did not advance out of committee before a deadline)
- Kansas (HB 2163, SB 113, HB 2303, SB 195; the legislature adjourned without voting on the bills)
- Kentucky (HB 136; passed the House Judiciary Committee in a 16-1 vote a week before the legislature adjourned, but did not get a floor vote before adjournment)
- Mississippi (HB 1372, SB 2358, SB 2643, SC 537; SC 537 is a constitutional referral; did not pass committee prior to a deadline)
- 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; the unicameral legislature did not vote on the bill prior to adjournment; a 2020 ballot measure signature drive has begun)
- North Carolina (HB 401)
- South Carolina (H. 3660, S. 366, H. 3081, H. 3272; S. 366 passed a Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee and is in the full committee; the legislature adjourned for the year but the bills will carry over to 2020)
- Tennessee (SB 486, HB 637; the legislature adjourned for 2019, but the two-year session reconvenes in 2020)
- Texas (HB 122, HB 209, HB 1365, SB 400, SB 865, SB 90, SJR 7, HJR 21; the latter two would have referred a proposed constitutional amendment to voters in 2020; the House approved HB 1365 on May 7, 2019; it would expand qualifying conditions to the state’s low-THC medical cannabis program and would allow regulators to decide the ratio of cannabinoids, which could allow for a full medical cannabis program; it did not receive a hearing in the Senate; a far more limited bill (HB 3703), which adds some qualifying conditions and removes the two-physician cap, passed both chambers and was signed into law)
- Wisconsin (SB 377 — which would allow both medical and adult-use cannabis; AB 220; the governor’s budget — AB 56/SB 59 — would have legalized medical marijuana, but the approved budget did not include medical cannabis)
- Wyoming (HB 278; this bill did not advance before the legislature adjourned)
- U.S. Virgin Islands (Bill 32-0135; On December 28, 2018, lawmakers voted 9-4 to send the bill to the governor’s desk. He signed the bill on January 17, 2019.)
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.