The 10 States Likely to be the Last to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

There are 24 states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, and numerous others with ongoing efforts to do the same. However, there are 10 states that seem long away from this type of reform.

There are five states with a legitimate shot to legalize recreational marijuana this year, including two that have legalization initiatives being voted on this November. On the other end of the spectrum, there are 12 states that not only haven’t legalized recreational marijuana, they haven’t even legalized medical marijuana. Although several of these states have ongoing efforts to legalize recreational marijuana, only two are far enough along in the process to elicit much hope (Wisconsin and South Carolina).

With that said, here are the 10 states that are likely to be the last to legalize recreational marijuana.

  • Idaho

An campaign attempting to place a medical marijuana initiative on this November’s ballot failed to collect the roughly 62,000 signatures required by the May 1, 2024 deadline. There’s currently no word on if the group plans to refile the initiative next year, and at the time of publication there is no active legislation that would legalize recreational marijuana.

  • Texas

Although there are some lawmakers in Texas attempting to legalize marijuana, the majority of Republicans who control the legislature and governor’s office remain staunchly opposed. Given the state does not have a comprehensive initiative process, voters have less options to take matters into their own hands.

  • Kansas

Senate Bill 558 to legalize medical marijuana was filed last month by the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee. The “Kansas medical cannabis act” would allow for the “licensure and regulation of the cultivation, processing, manufacturing, distribution, sale and use of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products”.  Those with a qualifying medical conditions would be authorized to purchase marijuana and marijuana products from licensed dispensaries, with regulations and licensing overseen by the Department of Health and Environment.

Although the measure gives proponents of medical marijuana reason to be hopeful, it was quickly tabled until at least the 2025 session, with some Republican leaders splashing cold water on the idea altogether.

With medical marijuana such an uncertainty in Kansas, we can expect it to be quite some time before recreational marijuana legalization is enacted.

  • Wyoming

Not only does the Wyoming Legislature currently have no bills making progress that would legalize any form of marijuana, it approved a measure this year that would ban delta-8 THC, something done by 17 other states.

  • Nebraska

A campaign aimed at placing a medical marijuana initiative on this November’s ballot is currently collecting signatures, with a July deadline to gather 125,000. With 70% of voters in support of legalizing medical marijuana, if the measure does make the ballot Nebraska could become the 39th medical marijuana state, but the campaign has not released an update in months leading some to form that they may be far from their goal.

  • Iowa

Legislation to legalize recreational marijuana was filed last year, but received no consideration in its committee of origin, despite 54% of voters in the state being in support of the move.

  • Indiana

Earlier this year a Republican lawmaker filed legislation to legalize marijuana for everyone 18 and older. The measure has received no real consideration or attention from lawmakers following its filing, and there are no other active bills or initiatives that have garnered more support.

  • North Carolina

Despite 78% of North Carolina voters being in support of legalizing medical marijuana, and despite a medical marijuana bill passing the Senate 36 to 10 recently, there continues to be a lack of support to get a bill through the House of Representatives, according to House Speaker Tim Moore. If there’s not enough support for allowing the medical use of marijuana as nearly 40 other states do, recreational marijuana is probably a ways off.

  • Georgia

Although Georgia is the only state to allow medical marijuana products to be sold through licensed pharmacies, the program is limited to low-THC, high-CBD products, and there is currently no notable effort to legalize recreational marijuana.

  • Tennessee

Legislation to legalize recreational marijuana was filed earlier this year, but leaders in the House and Senate have made it clear it will not receive serious consideration in either chamber.

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