Multiple Adult-Use Legalization Laws to Take Effect Next Week

Hartford, CT: Laws legalizing the possession and use of cannabis by adults ages 21 or older take effect next week in Connecticut, New Mexico, and Virginia. Once enacted, an estimated 145 million Americans – or more than 40 percent of the country – will live in a jurisdiction where the use of cannabis by adults is legal under state law. 

“Legalization is now a reality for nearly one-half of the US population,” NORML’s Executive Director Erik Altieri said. “As more jurisdictions continue to enact these common-sense regulatory policies, it is imperative that Congress quits stalling and amends federal law in a manner that addresses this state/federal divide and respects the will of the voters in these growing number of states.”

New Mexico’s legalization law takes effect on Tuesday, June 29. Under the new law, which was passed by lawmakers in a special legislative session in April, adults may possess (up to two ounces) and grow marijuana (up to six plants) for their own personal use. Retail sales of cannabis and cannabis products are anticipated to begin in the spring of 2022. Separate legislation facilitating the expungement of past marijuana convictions also takes effect on Tuesday.

Connecticut’s legalization law takes effect on Thursday, July 1. Lawmakers passed the measure in a special session this month. It permits adults to possess personal use quantities of marijuana (1.5 ounces) and equivalent amounts of cannabis concentrates without penalty. It also facilitates the automatic review and expungement of low-level marijuana convictions. Other provisions in the law licensing the commercial cultivation and retail sale of cannabis go into effect next year, while language authorizing adults to home cultivate limited quantities of cannabis does not take effect until 2023. 

Virginia’s legalization law also takes effect on July 1, 2021. Legislators approved the measure in April. Under the law, adults may legally possess (up to one ounce) and home cultivate (up to four plants per household) marijuana without penalty. Separate provisions in the law regulating the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis do not take effect until January 1, 2024.

In all, five states – Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Virginia – have passed legislation this year legalizing the adult use of cannabis. New Jersey’s law, which permits adults to possess up to six ounces of cannabis, took effect in February. New York’s legalization law, which allows adults to possess up to three ounces of cannabis, took effect in March. Both states are expected to begin licensing retailers to sell cannabis and cannabis products next year.

In November, 54 percent of South Dakota voters passed a statewide ballot measure legalizing the possession and use of marijuana by adults. That measure was supposed to go into effect on July 1, but it remains the subject of ongoing litigation. A separate South Dakota initiative, also passed by voters in November, establishing a state-run medical cannabis access program, also takes effect on July 1, but remains several months away from being operational.

A summary of adult-use legalization laws is available from NORML.