The 5 States Gearing Up to Legalize Marijuana in the Near Future

There are 24 legal marijuana states. Of the 26 without legal marijuana, five in particular are gearing up to make a change.

In 2023 and 2024 marijuana legalization legislation and/or ballot initiatives were filed in nearly all of the 26 states without legal marijuana. However, some of these efforts have far more of a chance of actually being enacted into law than others.

Based on our analysis of the current political landscape, here are the five states gearing up to legalize marijuana in the near future:

  • Florida

Florida voters will have the opportunity this November to legalize recreational marijuana via a ballot initiative. The initiative would allow those 21 and older “to possess, purchase, or use marijuana products and marijuana accessories for non-medical personal consumption by smoking, ingestion, or otherwise.” Licensed marijuana retail outlets would be allowed to distribute the plant, with any of the state’s licensed medical-marijuana dispensaries allowed to “acquire, cultivate, process, manufacture, sell and distribute such products and accessories.”

Polling released in November found support among likely voters to be at 67%, more than the 60% required for the initiative to be passed into law; given it’s a constitutional amendment it requires more than the normal 50% to be enacted.

  • Hawaii

Recently two different committees in the Hawaii House of Representatives voted to approved Senate Bill 3335 to legalize recreational marijuana, which has already been approved through the full Senate by a vote of 19 to 6. If it’s passed by the full House, it will be sent to Governor Josh Green.

The proposed law would allow those 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and up to five grams of marijuana concentrates, purchasable from a licensed marijuana retail outlet. The legislation would establish the Hawaii Cannabis Authority and Cannabis Control Board within the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs in order to oversee the legal marijuana market, including licensing and regulations. Recreational marijuana would be taxed at 14% and medical marijuana taxed at 4%. The personal cultivation of up to six plants would also be allowed.

Last year the Senate gave approval to a different marijuana legalization bill, but it failed to receive any committee votes in the House.

  • Pennsylvania

In May a bill to legalize recreational marijuana was filed in the Pennsylvania Legislature with 21 sponsors. In July State Senators Dan Laughlin (R) and Sharif Street (D) introduced separate bipartisan legislation that also would legalize marijuana for recreational use.

In November a legislative committee held a hearing to discuss recreational marijuana legalization. Although no specific agreement was reached, the hearing itself was a clear indication that the issue is on the forefront of many lawmakers’ minds.

Although no action was taken on any legalization bill in 2023, with the Democrats recently taking control of the House of Representatives and Governor Josh Shapiro now saying he supports allowing state-run marijuana retail outlets, advocates are hoping momentum is on their side and passage of a marijuana bill could be possible in the coming legislative session.

According to a Franklin & Marshall College Poll released in February, 63% of registered voters in the state want recreational marijuana to be legal.

  • New Hampshire

Late last month New Hampshire’s full House of Representatives voted to pass House Bill 1633 to legalize recreational marijuana for everyone 21 and older. The measure passed with overwhelming support, 239 to 141.

The proposed law would allow for the possession of up to four ounces of marijuana, 10 grams of marijuana concentrates and edibles with up to 2,000 mg of THC.

If the measure is passed through the Senate, it will be sent to Governor Sununu who said in November that marijuana legalization in New Hampshire is “inevitable“.

  • South Dakota

In 2022 an initiative to legalize marijuana appeared on the general election ballot. Although it wasn’t passed into law, it received a commendable 47%.

Now, the political organization behind the initiative is currently gathering signatures in an attempt to put the issue before voters this November. The initiative would establish a system of licensed and taxed marijuana retail outlets, supplied by licensed growers and producers. Those 21 and older would be allowed to access marijuana stores and could grow their own for personal use.

According to polling released last month, a plurality of voters in the state support legalizing marijuana, 45% to 42%. Although support for legalization was 2% lower than support for the 2022 initiative, opposition to legalization was 10% lower than opposition to the 2022 initiative. Based on this data, just 28% of those who remain undecided would need to vote in favor of a legalization initiative for it to pass.

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