Only eighteen of the forty-seven states, four U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia that have legalized some form of marijuana have passed legislation to allow for recreational cannabis use, but that number is poised to grow in 2022. Lawmakers in Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota are already making moves to get recreational cannabis legislation passed in their respective states.
Delaware State Representative Ed Osienki’s proposed legislation may have fizzled due to numerous proposed amendments in 2021, but Osienski has been revising the bill to incorporate these amendments for 2022 and hopes to see it pass this year. In its original incarnation, House Bill 150 would allow anyone over the age of 21 to possess, use, purchase, or transport marijuana under one ounce but does not permit individuals to grow their own cannabis. The bill also proposes to tax cannabis in the same way as alcohol and contains several prohibitions, including those against the use of marijuana in public by drivers or passengers, smoking cannabis where any other form of smoking or vaping is not allowed, and selling it where alcohol is also being sold.
House Bill 1 was introduced by Baltimore City Delegate Luke Clippinger in the state of Maryland this month. HB 1 is a constitutional amendment that would allow General Election voters to decide whether or not to legalize recreational marijuana use for those 21 years and older at the polls. The new bill proposes that the General Assembly would decide upon the use, distribution, possession, regulation, and taxation of marijuana. A recent Goucher College poll in the state showed that 77% of Democrats support legalization, 50% of Republicans would like to see the measure passed and 60% of Independents are in favor of the bill.
Pennsylvania’s Senate Bill 473 is a bipartisan attempt at passing recreational use legislation where partisan efforts have repeatedly failed. In addition to legalizing marijuana use for those 21 and over, the bill includes social equity and decriminalization measures. But SB 473 isn’t lawmakers’ only bipartisan attempt. Senate Bill 107 decriminalizes cannabis by changing possession of a small quantity (30 grams or less) to a summary offense, which is a third-degree misdemeanor.
South Dakota had a bit of a false start with legalization when the state’s Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling to nullify the voter referendum to legalize recreational marijuana that passed in 2020 (due to an amendment with provisions related to multiple subjects– marijuana, medical marijuana, and hemp). Not to be deterred, South Dakota lawmakers have seen to it that more than 25 of the 38 introduced pieces of legislation for 2022 so far deal with either medical or recreational marijuana use. Petitions for the ballot initiative to legalize the possession, use, and distribution of marijuana are currently circulating.
While the legal status of marijuana at the federal level remains uncertain and hotly debated in Congress, states are making inexorable strides towards recreational use. As states like California and Colorado see eye-popping recreational tax revenue, lawmakers from around the country are rallying to make sure that their constituents have access not only to the medicinal benefits that a thriving cannabis market has to offer, but the economic benefits as well.