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NORML Report Highlights Legalization Progress This Year

December 20, 2022

Lawmakers and voters enacted over 40 laws liberalizing cannabis policies in over a dozen states in 2022, according to a report by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Those victories include the three states that enacted laws legalizing adult-use cannabis possession and regulating retail cannabis markets: Missouri, Maryland, and Rhode Island, the latter of which already has its retail operation up and running.

“Voters and lawmakers took significant steps this year to repeal marijuana prohibition laws and to provide relief to those tens millions of Americans who have suffered as a result of them,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “Polling continues to show that marijuana reform is popular among voters, regardless of political party. As more lawmakers recognize that advocating for marijuana policy reforms is a political opportunity, not a political liability, we anticipate future legislative gains in 2023 and beyond.”

Equity issues also had a strong showing in 2022, most notably when President Biden announced in October that he would pardon several thousand people with federal cannabis convictions. Oregon governor Kate Brown announced that she would pardon over 45,000 people with low-level cannabis convictions and Colorado governor Jared Polis made a similar move early last year as well.

On the medical side, Mississippi established a medical marijuana program, the only to do so this year. Nonetheless numerous other bills in California, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Washington DC expanded access for medical patients and those seeking relief in a variety of ways. Several states including California passed provisions protecting workers who test positive for cannabis on workplace drug tests from penalty.

“This state-level legislative progress once again reaffirms the reality that the majority of the public supports meaningful marijuana reforms and that lawmakers are responding accordingly,” the report’s authors wrote. “According to recent polling, nearly seven in ten Americans, including majorities of all major subgroups by gender, age, income and education, and including majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, believe that the use of marijuana should be made legal.”

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