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A Year Outlook for Weed Laws

a year outlook for weed laws

Anytime it is an election year, you can expect some anticipation regarding cannabis legal reform. Many states put the question of marijuana legalization on the voter’s ballot for state residents to decide whether recreational use or medical cannabis should be permitted.

In 2024, a few states are progressing with new cannabis laws. Progression may not be the best word for it, though, as some states have been locked in a legal battle between people who want cannabis to remain prohibited and those who wish to have the option to use it.

Let’s look at some of last year’s medical marijuana updates, cannabis reform, and how the new laws may impact patients.

The Update on Federal Lawmakers and Rescheduling Cannabis

At the time of writing, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) remained deliberating on the suggestion from the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) to remove cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III on the Controlled Substances Act.

If cannabis is moved to a Schedule III drug, a lot of important changes could happen. First, both medical cannabis and recreational products may become more affordable. If cannabis were no longer a federally prohibited substance, it would grant cannabis-related businesses the same tax deductions as other American companies enjoy.

How Rescheduling Cannabis May Make Medical Use More Affordable

In 2022, cannabis businesses paid $1.8 billion in extra federal taxes, according to a report by Whitney Economics. Retailers in some jurisdictions have tax rates that exceed 70%. Among the anticipated cost savings and benefits for consumers, it may also reduce the federal incarceration rate for non-violent or straightforward possession charges.

While rescheduling cannabis will not solve the disparity between state and federal laws, it could be a step in the right direction. Changes to federal law may also remove more legal obstacles, making cannabis health studies and research more accessible.

1. Florida Adult-Use Legalization


Advocates for the legalization of recreational use in Florida are hoping that 2024 will be the year that adult use is approved in the Sunshine State. House Bill 1269 and Senate Bill 7050 have passed out of their committees of origin and propose a maximum 30% THC smokable cap on cannabis flower, with a 60% maximum potency for all other intake methods.

Will the Law Pass in 2024?

Stay tuned! In the coming weeks, the Florida Supreme Court will decide whether the current ballot proposal legalizing adult-use cannabis will be allowed. Some polls suggest that almost 80% of Florida residents support recreational use.

Attorney General Ashley Moody has asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the measure, believing the current language in the legalization initiative may be misleading. In 2022, the adult use legislation initiative was invalidated by Florida AG Moody for the same reason.

2. Wisconsin Medical Cannabis Legalization


Wisconsin is one of the last states to legalize medical cannabis. When Governor Tony Evers took office in 2019, he made it clear that he supported cannabis legalization. Specifically, he wanted to see Wisconsin legalize both medical and adult use.

A limited medical cannabis program has been proposed by Republican lawmakers who have held the majority in both the state Assembly and the Senate since 2011. Representative Jon Plumer unveiled the new Assembly Republicans’ plan for legalizing medical cannabis in Wisconsin.

Many industry experts think that Wisconsin may legalize medical cannabis use in 2024. The state program would begin with five dispensary locations that would sell non-smoking cannabis products.

What Changes May Happen in 2024?

With the Wisconsin Governor in full support of cannabis legal reform, many people expect that the state will announce a medical cannabis program this year. Something that patients living in Wisconsin have been waiting to happen for seven years.

3. Adult-Use Legalization in South Dakota

South Dakota became the first state to legalize adult-use marijuana and medical use at the same time on July 1, 2021. The ballot initiative to legalize cannabis in South Dakota failed during the 2006 and 2010 elections.

While resident voters overwhelmingly supported medical and recreational use legalization, the South Dakota Supreme Court did not. The language in Amendment A contained too many different legal changes; Governor Kristi Noem led that charge to strike down Amendment A. Instead, the Supreme Court directed that separate Amendments would be required for recreational marijuana, medical cannabis, and hemp regulations.

Currently, qualified patients living in South Dakota can apply for a medical card. There is a list of qualifying conditions, but physicians are permitted to certify anyone they feel may benefit therapeutically from medical cannabis.

Will the Supreme Court Strike Down Recreational Use Again?

Now that the medical cannabis program in South Dakota is operational, the legal Amendment for adult use will be sure to contain only one subject: legalizing marijuana for adults over the age of twenty-one years. The current proposed legislation also includes the right for adults over 21 years to cultivate cannabis plants for personal use.

As for recreational use legalization? South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws has until May 7 to collect 17,508 signatures to put adult use on the November 2024 ballot, which will be like Deja vu for residents who already voted in favor of it back in 2020.

4. Medical Cannabis Legalization in Idaho


When it comes to medical cannabis or recreational use, some Idaho residents are just as frustrated as people living in Wisconsin; cannabis remains illegal for medical or recreational use in Idaho.

The political action committee Kind Idaho is racing to gather 62,896 signatures to support The Idaho Medical Marijuana Act before May 1, 2024. That will place the initiative on the ballot for voters in November.

The Resolution to Never Legalize Cannabis in Idaho

According to an interview conducted by Cannabis Business Times with Russ Belville, a lead representative for the Idaho Citizens Coalition for Cannabis, Idaho may be “the most hostile state” when it comes to cannabis legal reform and cannabis companies.

Back in 2013, the Idaho Legislature passed a resolution stating that “marijuana should never be legalized in the state for any purpose.” Are Idaho patients frustrated by the failed attempts to legalize cannabis for medical purposes? The proof will be apparent in the number of support signatures that IDCCC can collect.

5. New Hampshire First to Launch State-Owned Seed to Sale?

What would you think if a state took complete control of all cannabis cultivation, processing, packaging, distribution, and retail sales? The job that is usually the responsibility of multistate operators in the cannabis industry could be taken by the New Hampshire government.

It is actually not as strange as it sounds. In Canada, provincial governments also act like a dispensary. In fact, you can quickly and easily order medical or recreational use cannabis products online and have them delivered to your home. However, other dispensaries are also licensed to sell cannabis in Ontario, Canada.

If the proposed legislation goes through, New Hampshire may not license any dispensaries. A state government that is controlling the production and sales of all cannabis products would be a first in the United States.

The state has indicated that if it controls the production, marketing, distribution, and sales of cannabis, there would be no need for an additional excise tax on cannabis products. Typically, recreational users pay the highest excise tax (added on top of retail sales tax) on products.

What the Recreational Use Program May Look Like

A maximum of fifteen (15) locations has been proposed. The N.H. House of Representatives proposed a non-state-run sales model, which would be the traditional licensing of cannabis industry businesses like cultivators and retail dispensaries.

However, that measure was rejected by the Senate in 2022 and again in 2023. If recreational use is legalized in New Hampshire, it looks like residents will be driving long distances to get to one of a maximum of fifteen dispensary locations across the state.

The future of medical marijuana legalization is difficult to predict; even reform that is supported by state residents can get stalled (or rejected) by Senate officials. It is very much a ‘wait and see’ what amendments make it to the ballot and how state residents support or reject cannabis legal reform.


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