Apr 20, 2024 - Health

Where cannabis and medical marijuana are legal this 4/20

Illustration of a marijuana leaf shown in the negative space of many leaves.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Marijuana's informal 4/20 holiday is picking up steam with recreational pot legal for nearly half of the nation.

Why it matters: More changes are rolling out and others are under consideration in states across the country as support for legalizing weed grows.

  • Roughly 9 out of 10 Americans said marijuana should be legal for medical or recreational use, according to a January Pew Research Center survey.

The big picture: It's legal for adults to buy recreational marijuana in 24 states and Washington D.C.

  • For medical purposes, cannabis is legal in 38 states.

By the numbers: A Gallup survey found support for legalization crosses political party lines with 87% of Democrats, 70% of independents and 55% of Republicans backing legal marijuana.

  • The percentage of U.S. adults who said they smoke marijuana has more than doubled in the past decade, climbing from 7% in 2013 to 17% in 2023, a separate Gallup poll found.
  • America's legal cannabis industry supports 440,445 full-time jobs and grew by 5.4% in 2023, according to the 2024 Vangst Jobs Report.

Where is marijuana legal and illegal in 2024

Zoom in: Ohio became the 24th state to allow adult cannabis use for non-medical purposes when voters approved a ballot initiative in November.

Kentucky became the 38th state to legalize medical marijuana when Gov. Andy Beshear signed a bill for medicinal cannabis into law in March 2023.

  • The law will take effect on Jan. 1, 2025.

Reality check: Marijuana is fully illegal in four states — Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina and Wyoming, according to DISA Global Solutions, a drug testing company.

What's next: A constitutional amendment on whether to legalize recreational marijuana will be on the ballot in Florida this November.

  • In Arkansas voters may get to vote on a proposed amendment that would ease regulations on medical marijuana.

Marijuana legalization at the federal level

State of play: Marijuana is still considered a "Schedule I illegal substance" at the federal level, which is the same category as heroin and LSD.

  • Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials are recommending the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) move marijuana to a lower-risk category under the Controlled Substances Act.
  • The DEA said in January it is "conducting its review" of whether to soften federal regulation of marijuana under the act.

What we're watching: Many believe federal legalization and cannabis rescheduling is coming and could happen before the November presidential election, Jillian Kossman, vice president of marketing for IDScan, told Axios.

  • This would "create new complexities that the federal government will need to tackle," said Kossman, a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association State Regulatory Committee.

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