Proposals for legislation heavily influence cannabis industry progress, and business leaders closely follow the actions of both state governments and Washington, D.C. to understand how the industry may be affected. Which states have taken action — or inaction — so far in 2023?
Pennsylvania, which is one of the largest medical cannabis markets in the U.S., is experiencing renewed interest in adult-use legalization this year. Bipartisan legislation Senate Bill 846 would legalize recreational cannabis for adults and establish infrastructure, taxation, and law enforcement provisions related to the program. The bill would also expunge possession records for eligible Pennsylvanians.
As of July 2023, the bill is under review by the Law and Justice Committee. A review of the bill is expected this year.
In May 2023, Jamie Callender (R-Concord) and Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) introduced the Ohio Adult Use Act, also known as Ohio HB 168. This act is meant to bring in a 10% sales tax on adult-use cannabis within the state.
According to Ohio State University, if an adult-use cannabis market is established, it has the potential to generate general annual tax revenue expected to range from $276 million to $374 million by the fifth year of business.
West Virginia House Bill 2091 was proposed on the first day of the statehouse’s legislative session for 2023. Under House Bill 2091, the bill would decriminalize and legalize cannabis, allowing consumption and possession of up to 1 ounce for West Virginia adults. The legislation would also include a taxing mechanism “to bring more revenue to the state.”
The next steps for the bill now rest upon the House of Health & Human Resources Committee, where the bill has sat for approval since its introduction in January.
South Carolina H 3561, which has sat in committee since January 2023, would decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis and other substances. The bill would reduce penalties to civil citations.
South Carolina state legislators also proposed two bills, the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act and the Put Patients First Act, in January. Both bills would legalize medical cannabis in the state. Multiple attempts to pass medical cannabis legislation have failed in the state, including a 2022 legislative attempt that passed the state Senate but failed in the House.
Iowa Senate File 73 is a bill that would expand the state’s medical cannabis program while legalizing adult-use consumption. This bill aims to reduce penalties for possessing cannabis for non-authorized medical use and to clear records for individuals convicted of nonviolent offenses. Since January 2023, the bill has been in subcommittee. Iowa currently has a medical cannabis program, but it’s quite restrictive.
Free All Cannabis for Tennesseans Act, known as Tennessee SB0168 and HB0085, would allow retail sales in the state. The bill was brought forth in January 2023.
SB0168, the state Senate’s version of the bill, has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. HB0085, the House version of the bill, has been assigned to the Criminal Justice Subcommittee and sponsors have been added to the legislation.
A set of bills to regulate and legalize adult-use cannabis were pre-filed (filed in advance of a legislative session) in February 2023. HB-17 would allow the Department of Agriculture to issue and manage 10 cultivation licenses and 40 permits for retail dispensaries. HB-24 would decriminalize cannabis possession and distribution. The bill currently sits in committee.
Legislators proposed House Bill 2363, a decriminalization measure, in February 2023. The bill would require that any person serving time for a nonviolent crime involving cannabis as the sole controlled substance must be discharged from their sentence for that office. The Kentucky legislature states that the Senate and the House are currently adjourned until January 2024 and therefore the bill will not have a hearing this year.
In addition to the decriminalization measure, a second bill, the Adult Use Cannabis Regulation Act (House Bill 2367), was introduced to manage the cultivation, manufacturing, and sale of cannabis in the state. The bill was withdrawn from the Committee on Federal and State Affairs on March 28th. The Kansas Division of the Budget estimates that the revenue of cannabis sales is estimated to be $2.7 million in 2025.
House Bill 1805 was introduced with the aim of improving the Lone Star State’s medical cannabis program, the Texas Compassionate Use Program. The bill held support in the House of Representatives with an end vote of 127-19.
A second proposal known as HB 218 was introduced to lessen penalties for cannabis possession up to two ounces of cannabis flower. The proposal would also lead to a reduced penalty for possessing concentrates up to one ounce from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Neither bill was scheduled for a Senate hearing after they made their way through the House. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), who controls the legislature agenda, is a staunch prohibitionist.
The Idaho Medical Cannabis Act (House Bill 370) was introduced outside of committees on March 24th by Representative John Vander Woude (R). The legislation would have permitted ingestibles, but not smoking or vaping products. Unfortunately, the bill did not advance.
Cannabis in Idaho is illegal for both medical and recreational uses, making it one of only a few states to not have any sort of cannabis access. Idaho has some of the toughest cannabis laws in America. However, public perception there is changing: 70 percent of Idaho residents support medical cannabis legalization in the state.
States that have legalized cannabis so far in 2023
A pair of bills, House Bill 1 and House Bill 2, passed in April 2023. These two bills remove all penalties for personal use of cannabis and establish a framework for establishing a recreational cannabis market in the state.
Delaware is the 22nd state to legalize adult-use cannabis. The Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network states that citizens will see the first legal cannabis sales between late 2024 and early 2025.
With the signing of H.F. 100, Minnesota became the 23rd state in the United States to end cannabis prohibition on August 1, 2023. It is estimated to take 12 to 18 months for licenses to be issued and regulated sales to begin. Already existing medical cannabis stores will be allowed to participate in the adult-use market at a future date.
Have cannabis legalization efforts failed in any states so far in 2023?
Aside from the legislative efforts listed earlier in this article that show few or no signs of passing in this legislative session, there’s been one state, Oklahoma, where voters rejected adult-use legalization.
While medical marijuana has been embraced by the state, with around 400 medical dispensaries in Oklahoma City alone, votes turned against the ballot to move the state into allowing adult-use cannabis consumption.
Oklahoma State Question 820 came to the ballot for a vote on March 7th, 2023, where the measure failed by a 62 percent/38 percent margin. This vote was a setback for cannabis legalization supporters in Oklahoma, who anticipated that economic attitudes and growing support for cannabis would create a pathway for an adult-use program.
Stay in the know for state legislative developments
The changing landscape of cannabis illustrates the industry’s dynamic nature on the East Coast and beyond. Regulations will continue to evolve, and staying updated by relying on trustworthy and dependable sources is essential for continued success in this ever-developing industry.
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