The US states that might legalize cannabis in 2021

Published Jan 16, 2021 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Frankljunior

The stage has been potentially set for additional states in the US to legalize cannabis in 2021. There is hope that South Dakota, New Jersey, Arizona, and Montana who legalized adult-use of cannabis in 2020, will be the catapult for other states to be added to the list of recreational-friendly regions where you can purchase and consume cannabis.

New Mexico

Michelle Lujan, Gov. of New Mexico, pushed to legalize cannabis for adult use by adding it to the states’ legislative agenda. The Senate Public Affairs Committee approved the bill before it was voted to be tabled in February by the Senate Judiciary Committee. This action left the efforts to legalize cannabis hanging in the air till 2021 and adding New Mexico to the growing list of legal states where cannabis could soon be purchased and consumed.

Michelle sees legalizing cannabis in her state as an economic boost and development driver that has the potential to support and create thousands of jobs while adding millions to the state's revenue pockets. The revenues collected from marijuana would be used for public services across the state.

New York

Last year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had included a plan to tax and legalize adult-use marijuana in his state. During the Gov's annual State of the State address, he vowed to legalize cannabis and have the state he represented added to the list of legal states in the U.S. However, the governor's plans were put on hold due to the medical crisis the world was and still is facing today.

Cuomo cut the legalization of cannabis proposal from the budget proposal deadline of April 1 while reporting that a lack of time was an issue and that the proposal to legalize cannabis would not be included at this time. However, Cuomo will renew his efforts to legalize cannabis in 2021. He is looking forward to his state enjoying the benefits cannabis has bought to New Jersey, the neighbouring region which has already legalized cannabis.


Governor Tom Wolf wants his state to join the list of legal states where cannabis can be consumed. He calls upon state legislators to legalize weed in an effort to boost the economy due to the effects of COVID- 19 on the financial position of the state. Luckily, Tom Wolf has a plan that involves funding grants for small businesses through revenue from cannabis sales.

He plans to have 50 percent of the funding reserved for those historically disadvantaged businesses. Wolf suggests that other tax revenues could go towards restorative justice programs to repair the harm done to crime victims due to cannabis criminalization. Uncertainty is in the air for this Republican-led state on the issues of legalizing cannabis.

Rhode Island

Thoughts around legalizing marijuana in this state are changing. COVID-19 and the economic downslide that has ensued has lawmakers looking at cannabis as perhaps the beneficial green pot at the end of the rainbow that might be able to rectify the situation. Senate leaders for this state are becoming more open to the proposal being included in the 2021 budget plan.



A rather long list of cannabis-related bills that were filed last year included was House Bill 447. This bill would enable adults over 21 to transport, consume, and grow cannabis, with a few limitations. Included in the bill would be guidelines for cannabis businesses' distribution and licensure of marijuana. If passed, the bill that state Senator-elect Gutierrez introduced would authorize recreational and medical cannabis use.

As many states will be facing budgetary challenges, Texas senator-elect believes that SB 140 will create numerous jobs and produce up to 3.2 million in new revenue each year without raising taxes for the regular Texan. He claims that it’s time for Texas to join the other 38 states that have said legalize it.


Governor Ralph Northam announced his plans to legalize adult-use cannabis for his state. Studies conducted here revealed that 300 million dollars in taxes could be generated from the sales of cannabis in his state. The public support of the legalization of cannabis comes after his state passed a bill that decriminalizes the possession of cannabis. The reclassification of possession of one ounce or less of a cannabis substance will now only be subject to a civil penalty.


Ned Lamont, Governor of Connecticut, introduced a cannabis legalization bill allowing adult cannabis use for those 21 and older. COVID-19 put a hold on this, as it did to many legislative proposals in 2020. Confidence exhumes from the pastor Rev. Tommie Jackson, who helped the governor to craft the legislative bill for passing in 2021.

He states that this bill's passing is necessary to ensure all people's full and fair co-operation, especially those people of colour. The governor also promises that he will attempt to have the bill passed to ensure regional uniformity at some point this year.

Final thoughts

Federal marijuana legalization is within reach as the new year brings changes to the leadership of the United States. Marijuana is being recognized on all levels of government as a means of putting more cash into the government's pockets. Famous reggae artist Peter Tosh now has most countries chanting his words. Legalize it!

What the results of the US election mean for cannabis legalization


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