Where Is Weed Legal in 2021? New Mexico and New York Join the List

New Mexico is on track to become the latest state to decriminalize cannabis for adult use after approving a new bill regulating possession and use.

On Wednesday, following a two-day special session, New Mexico's lawmakers approved the Cannabis Regulation Act, which legalizes possession and use for state residents aged 21 and older. The bill cleared the state's House 41-28, while the New Mexico Senate voted 22-15 in favor of its approval.

Following news of the bill clearing both the Senate and the House, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham tweeted her "signing pen" was ready to enshrine the bill into law.

"This is a significant victory for New Mexico. Workers will benefit from the opportunity to build careers in this new economy," she said in a statement.

"Entrepreneurs will benefit from the opportunity to create lucrative new enterprises. The state and local governments will benefit from the additional revenue. Consumers will benefit from the standardization and regulation that comes with a bona fide industry.

"And those who have been harmed by this country's failed war on drugs, disproportionately communities of color, will benefit from our state's smart, fair and equitable new approach to past low-level convictions."

On the same day, New York legalized marijuana for recreational adult use, two years after decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.

"This is a historic day in New York—one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State's economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said as he signed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.

While the use of cannabis has not been legalized by federal law in the U.S., several states have, to varying degrees, moved to decriminalize use and possession.

New York is the 15th state to fully legalize the use of cannabis for adults, along with Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont and Washington.

Use of cannabis has also been legalized in Washington, D.C.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, meanwhile, cannabis remains illegal in Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Wyoming.

At the beginning of March, however, the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a decriminalization bill in a 6-3 vote and the bill will now head to the state's Senate.

North Carolina has already decriminalized the use of cannabis, while some cannabidiol (CBD) products are available for use in Wyoming, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Cannabis use, meanwhile, remains completely illegal in Kansas and Nebraska.

In some of the remaining states, cannabis use is only legal for medicinal purposes or limited to CBD oils.

In Louisiana, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania, for example, cannabis use is legal for medicinal purposes but recreational use remains illegal.

New York cannabis
Eliana Miss Illi, General Manager of Weed World poses as she smokes a joint on 7th Avenue in Midtown New York City, March 31. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation legalizing recreational marijuana on March 31. 2021, with a large chunk of tax revenues from sales set to go to minority communities. New York joins 14 other US states and the District of Columbia in permitting cannabis after lawmakers in both state chambers, where Cuomo's Democratic Party holds strong majorities, backed the bill on March 30. Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images