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Which States Are Likely to Legalize Cannabis in 2022?

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Several states are warming up to the idea of legalizing marijuana for adult use. While some may opt for legislative actions, others will result in taking matters to the ballot. Either way, by the end of 2022, we expect to see more states lighting up. Below is a breakdown of where we are, and we hope to be by the end of next year.

Where is Marijuana Legal?

When 2021 started, 15 states plus the District of Columbia had legalized recreational marijuana. 11 months into the year, and four more states have taken this bold step; New York, New Mexico, Virginia, and Connecticut. Residents of all but one (Virginia) can now legally purchase marijuana within their borders. Those in Virginia will have to wait until 2024. 

The following states have legalized marijuana for recreational use:

  • Colorado
  • Washington
  • Alaska 
  • Oregon
  • District of Columbia
  • California
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • Michigan
  • Vermont
  • Illinois
  • Arizona
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • South Dakota
  • New York
  • New Mexico
  • Virginia
  • Connecticut

Recreational marijuana in South Dakota is murky. In November 2020, voters approved Amendment A through a referendum, thereby legalizing marijuana. A few months later, the Republican Governor Kristi Noem challenged the Amendment in a lawsuit which he won; the amendment was declared unconstitutional and null and void. A year later and residents of Mount Rushmore state cannot purchase recreational cannabis legally in the state. 

91% of Americans support the legalization of medicinal or recreational marijuana. The onus is on state legislators to honor the wishes of the masses. Here is a breakdown of the states that are likely to legalize marijuana for recreational use. 


Maryland made the list of “states that are likely to legalize pot in 2021,” but things did not go as planned. Sen. Brian Feldman, D-Montgomery, sponsored a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. However, the legislators supporting the bill ran out of time, and the bill did not make it out of the session this year. They still plan to introduce the bill next year when it has been fine-tuned, taking lessons from other states to prevent having any problems with the account once it has crossed over to the opposite chambers. 

In July this year, the House of Delegates speaker, Adrienne Jones, formed a working committee to map out rules to regulate the legal industry. She further pledged to have the bill taken to the referendum for voters to decide in 2022. 

Legislators in Maryland are also discussing expunging marijuana-related criminal records from the courts and the police as part of the legalization that is bound to happen in 2022. Expunging means going back to review criminal records; this will likely take thousands of clerks and may extend for a couple of years


Marijuana advocates in Missouri are pushing hard to have marijuana legalized in the state by the close of 2022. Legislation passed in 2015 decriminalized marijuana, while medical marijuana was legalized in 2018 through the ballot. 

Legal Missouri 2022 is a cannabis advocacy group lobbying for legalization to happen in 2022 through the ballot. However, this was derailed by the coronavirus pandemic that ground everything to a halt. In early October, the Missouri Secretary of State approved a constitutional amendment measure to allow the lobby group to start collecting signatures with a target of 171,000 signatures. The proposed legislation includes access to equity measures and allows home cultivation. It will also result in the automatic expungement of marijuana-related criminal records. 


Oklahoma is on the verge of legalization, having filed a recent proposal for a constitutional amendment that will ensure that recreational marijuana is legalized by the close of 2022. This is bound to increase tax revenues for the state. 

Oklahoma has a very vibrant medical marijuana community with very few limitations on who can qualify for this kind of treatment. It is not a surprise that almost 10% of residents in the state have a medical marijuana card. Oklahoma has over 375,000 licensed marijuana patients and over 2,300 dispensaries.

The recreational petition in Oklahoma is called the Oklahoma Marijuana Regulation and Right to Use Act. If approved, it will allow adults at least 21 years of age to purchase up to 8 ounces of cannabis from legal retailers and grow up to 12 plants in their residence. It will also expunge or seek judicial reviews for those with marijuana-related criminal records.


Cannabis advocacy group- Arkansas True Grass had to abandon their signature seeking endeavors amid rising cases of COVID in the state. Arkansas would have legalized marijuana last year had COVID not happened. However, they were able to pick up this year, and by August 2021, they had collected about 10,000 signatures. We are likely to see the Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Initiative appear on the ballot on November 8th, 2022. This amendment allows for the possession and use of marijuana by legal adults above the age of 21. It does not put a cap on the number of marijuana dispensary licenses that can be issued in the state. 

The Arkansas Adult Use and Expungement Marijuana Amendment are also competing to appear on the 2022 ballot. If approved, this measure will allow adults to possess marijuana and one marijuana dispensary license for every 15,000 Arkansas residents. However, it will limit cultivation facility licenses to one for every 300,000 residents. It will also give way for the expungement of marijuana-related criminal records from police and court records. 


Marijuana legalization in Florida has been a tough grind, but that has dampened the spirit of marijuana enthusiasts in the state. Early this year, two amendments to legalize marijuana were blocked by the Supreme Court in close succession. The court declared that the proposed amendments were “misleading,” considering that marijuana was still illegal under federal law. The referendum question would allow “adults 21 years or older to possess, use, purchase, display, and transport up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal use for any reason.” It would also allow existing medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational cannabis to adults. Despite this setback, cannabis advocacy groups are still pushing a marijuana legalization bill on the ballot come 2022. 


The push for legalization, from its inception, has been challenging and rewarding at the same time. Nineteen states plus the District of Columbia now permit the recreational use of marijuana. Maryland, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Florida are states to watch out for in 2022. If all goes as planned, they may be moving towards full legalization. 


Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.