Press Release

Marijuana Policy Project Provides An Overview of New Cannabis Laws Taking Effect Today in Three States

Jul 01, 2021

Marijuana Policy Project Provides An Overview of New Cannabis Laws Taking Effect Today in Three States

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Contact: Violet Cavendish

Adult-use Cannabis Legalization Laws Take Effect Today in Connecticut and Virginia; Medical Cannabis Law Takes Effect in South Dakota

View the recording of the press conference here

Washington, D.C. — On Thursday, advocates with the Marijuana Policy Project, the nation's leading cannabis policy organization that has played a central role in passing over two dozen state-level medical cannabis and adult-use cannabis legalization laws across the country, held a virtual press conference to provide information about new policies taking effect today in Connecticut, South Dakota, and Virginia.

A recording of the press conference is available here.

Virginia and Connecticut are two of the four states to legalize cannabis legislatively this year, along with New York and New Mexico. The total number of adult-use legalization states has now reached 19 (this includes South Dakota, where the law has been temporarily invalidated pending a decision from the South Dakota Supreme Court).

“While we cheer the newfound freedoms that today brings, we are appalled that hundreds of thousands of Americans continue to be arrested each year for cannabis. Tonight, thousands of Americans will sleep behind bars, away from their families, over a plant that is safer than alcohol. As we applaud Virginia and Connecticut’s progress, we call on the states that have not yet acted to heed the cry of their voters. It’s past time every state and the federal government replace marijuana prohibition with equitable legalization and regulation,” said Steven Hawkins, MPP’s executive director.

“As states legalize at an unprecedented rate, MPP will continue to encourage restorative justice and economic opportunity for communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition. We'll use our platforms to promote policies that mitigate the harms of mass incarceration and collateral consequences arising from marijuana convictions. We must continue the momentum from recently legalized states — like Connecticut, Virginia, and New York — whose new laws include social equity provisions to ensure that the individuals, families, and communities upended by the criminalization of cannabis reap the health and economic benefits of the growing industry as we work toward federal legalization,” said Tahir Johnson, MPP’s director of social equity and inclusion.

Connecticut: Starting today, adults over the age of 21 will be allowed to possess up to one and a half ounces of cannabis on their person and up to five ounces in a locked trunk or secured at their home. Legal sales are anticipated to begin by May 2022. Adults will be allowed to securely cultivate cannabis at home starting July 1, 2023. A full summary of the law is available here.

“Today marks the end of a multi-year fight for equitable cannabis reform and the start of the work to dismantle the effects of the devastating war on cannabis in Connecticut. In addition to creating a safe, well-regulated marketplace where adults can make their own decisions about consumption, this law allows for those convicted of cannabis offenses to erase their records at no cost and live their lives with a clean slate,” said DeVaughn Ward, MPP’s senior legislative counsel.

South Dakota: Starting today, medical cannabis patients who comply with specific requirements will not be arrested for possession of up to three ounces of cannabis. The state has until November 18 of this year to begin issuing medical cannabis patient ID cards. The deadline for promulgating rules for businesses is October 29, 2021. The South Dakota Department of Health is responsible for implementing the policy.

“South Dakota went from having some of the harshest cannabis laws in the country to becoming the first state ever to adopt medical cannabis and adult-use legalization laws at the same time,” said Matthew Schweich, MPP deputy director and one of the leaders of the 2020 South Dakota campaign. “While the fate of the adult-use legalization law is unknown due to a lawsuit spearheaded by Governor Noem, medical cannabis patients in South Dakota will now be protected from unjust arrests and prosecutions.”

Virginia: Starting today, adults can legally possess up to one ounce of cannabis and cultivate up to four cannabis plants at their primary residence.Legal sales will begin no earlier than July 2024. A full summary of the law is available here.

“Today, Virginia became the first state in the South where adults can legally possess and grow marijuana. Once it is fully implemented, Virginia's legalization law will include crucial provisions that seek to repair some of the harms done by the war on cannabis — automatically sealing low-level past cannabis offenses, creating a social equity program to ensure those hardest hit by the war on cannabis can participate and thrive in the legal cannabis industry, and dedicating 30% of tax proceeds to a Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund,” said Karen O’Keefe, MPP’s director of state policies.



Founded in 1995, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is the nation’s leading cannabis policy reform organization. MPP has played a central role in passing dozens of cannabis policy reforms in states across the country, including 10 successful cannabis legalization campaigns, and also works to advance federal reforms.

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