An Overview of New Cannabis Laws in Three States from MPP

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Advocates with the Marijuana Policy Project are here to help us better understand the new cannabis laws. Recently, the organization held a virtual press conference to provide information about new policies that have gone into effect. MPP is the nation’s leading cannabis policy organization. They’ve been key in passing over two dozen state-level cannabis legalization laws across the country. On July 1, three states, Connecticut, South Dakota, and Virginia, have all initiated new laws related to cannabis. MPP broke down each state by their new policies below.

More States Accepting Cannabis 

Virginia and Connecticut are two of the four states to legalize cannabis legislatively this year. The other two being New York and New Mexico. The total number of adult-use legalization states has now reached 19. Despite the relatively slow nature of these policies, the industry is making remarkable strides towards federal legalization.

“Tonight, thousands of Americans will sleep behind bars, away from their families, over a plant that is safer than alcohol. As we applaud Virginia and Connecticut’s progress, we call on the states that have not yet acted to heed the cry of their voters,” said Steven Hawkins, MPP’s executive director. “It’s past time every state and the federal government replace marijuana prohibition with equitable legalization and regulation.”

“As states legalize at an unprecedented rate, MPP will continue to encourage restorative justice and economic opportunity for communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition,” said Tahir Johnson, MPP’s director of social equity and inclusion. “We’ll use our platforms to promote policies that mitigate the harms of mass incarceration and collateral consequences arising from marijuana convictions. We must continue the momentum from recently legalized states — like Connecticut, Virginia, and New York — whose new laws include social equity provisions to ensure that the individuals, families, and communities upended by the criminalization of cannabis reap the health and economic benefits of the growing industry as we work toward federal legalization.”

Connecticut, South Dakota, and Virginia Explained

First, in Connecticut, adults over the age of 21 will be allowed to possess up to one and a half ounces of cannabis on their person and up to five ounces in a locked trunk or secured at their home. Legal sales are anticipated to begin by May 2022. Starting July 1, 2023, adults can cultivate cannabis at home. A full summary of the law is available here.

Next, South Dakota Medical cannabis patients will not be arrested for possession. Additionally, permitted residents can possess up to three ounces of cannabis. There are specific requirements that medical cannabis patients must follow. The state has until November 18 of this year to begin issuing medical cannabis patient ID cards. The deadline for promulgating rules for businesses is October 29, 2021. The South Dakota Department of Health is responsible for implementing the policy.

Finally, adults in Virginia can legally possess up to one ounce of cannabis. Additionally, those same individuals can cultivate up to four cannabis plants at their primary residence. Legal sales will begin no earlier than July 2024. A full summary of the law is available here.

Hopefully, these three states can serve as an example to other states considering this transition. While many benefit from cannabis, the states themselves will receive plenty of tax revenue to benefit. Until then, we can only celebrate the slow yet steady progress the cannabis industry is making.

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