Special Report

The Next States to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

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6. Mississippi
> 18 and over population: 2,277,729
> Annual marijuana use — 18 and older: 12.0% — 2nd lowest
> State and local tax collections per capita, 2018: $3,767 — 22nd lowest

Although voters approved a proposal to legalize medical marijuana, the state’s Supreme Court voided the measure on a technicality, so medical cannabis remains illegal in Mississippi. Yet possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized. Possession of up to 30 grams (1 ounce) of cannabis or synthetic cannabinoids carries a fine of between $100 to $250 for a first offense.

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7. Missouri
> 18 and over population: 4,764,733
> Annual marijuana use — 18 and older: 14.9% — 22nd lowest
> State and local tax collections per capita, 2018: $3,970 — 6th lowest

Medical marijuana has been legal in Missouri since 2018, with 65.5% of Missourians approving an amendment to allow cannabis for medical use. Advocates are reportedly trying to get a ballot initiative for recreational cannabis up for a vote in 2022. In 2014, the Show Me State legislature passed a bill to decriminalize the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana. The offense is classified as a criminal misdemeanor and punishable only by a fine.

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8. Montana
> 18 and over population: 842,254
> Annual marijuana use — 18 and older: 19.9% — 14th highest
> State and local tax collections per capita, 2018: $4,263 — 22nd highest

Montana was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana in 2004. In 2011, there was a legislative push to overturn the law, but Gov. Brian Schweitzer vetoed the measure. After a new initiative was approved by voters on Nov. 3, 2020, as of Jan. 1, 2021, Montana residents age 21 and older can possess, use, and grow up to 1 ounce of marijuana. However, possession of more than 1 ounce (28 grams) of cannabis or 8 grams of concentrate is considered a felony that carries a penalty of up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

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9. New Hampshire
> 18 and over population: 1,103,691
> Annual marijuana use — 18 and older: 21.6% — 10th highest
> State and local tax collections per capita, 2018: $5,272 — 10th lowest

Since 2013, medical marijuana has been legal in New Hampshire. Recreational use remains illegal, but cannabis possession has been decriminalized. Possession of 21 grams of cannabis or cannabis infused products with no more than 300 milligrams of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in cannabis that causes the “high”), or up to 5 grams of hash, carries a fine of $100 for the first and second offense. For a third offense, the fine increases to $300.

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10. New Mexico
> 18 and over population: 1,622,979
> Annual marijuana use — 18 and older: 20.1% — 12th highest
> State and local tax collections per capita, 2018: $4,134 — 6th highest

In 1978, New Mexico passed the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act, allowing the first medical use of cannabis, but only through a research program. In April, the state expanded cannabis legislation to adult recreational use.

Adults 21 and older can purchase, possess, consume, and give away to other adults up to 2 ounces (56 grams) of cannabis flower, 16 grams of concentrate, and 800 milligrams of edibles. Residents can also cultivate 12 mature plants per household. The state is currently ramping up licensing procedures and rules for marijuana businesses.

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