Where is recreational marijuana legal? Cannabis sales start soon, but is it happening already?

Where is recreational marijuana legal? What states have legalized cannabis? Where is marijuana already being sold? Across the U.S. proposals are popping up to legalize recreational marijuana. In 19 states recreational marijuana is legal now. All of those questions loom, though, as states pass varying pieces of legislation at different speeds. Recreational marijuana is still not legal at the federal level, which means traveling between states can get tricky for those who possess or utilize recreational marijuana.

What states have legalized recreational marijuana?

South Dakota is on many lists for having legalized marijuana. However, pending legal action to challenge recreational marijuana use it’s stuck in transition. The state of Vermont is on many lists for having legalized recreational marijuana. However, retail sales have not yet started. This is also the case in New York.

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Guam
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C.

Can employers test for marijuana where it’s legal?

Business owners say recreational marijuana will have an impact on them. Employers will not be allowed to test for marijuana in New York. That is a major point of contention for business owners, who are worried about the performance of employees. Especially for those who have jobs operating small or light machinery that does not require a state license or certification. 

For commercial drivers, like those that operate large trucks using a CDL — specific rules govern use of substances like marijuana. In fact, those who have a CDL cannot utilize recreational marijuana and can be tested at random.

“It will have an impact on productivity,” a business owner who operates two restaurants in Western New York told FingerLakes1.com. “They can say it won’t. But we know it will. We’ll have to see how things play out over the first year that it’s readily available at dispensaries and go from there.”

When will recreational marijuana be for sale in New York?

Last spring the state reached a deal on legalizing recreational marijuana use. It was a moment for lawmakers and advocates who attempted to make recreational pot a part of the state’s legal substances for years. At this point, New York State is moving through the process of developing a commission, which will effectively oversee licenses to sell marijuana. 

The law took effect immediately, so the legal repercussions of possessing small amount of marijuana disappeared. Despite this it may be several more months — if not another year for recreational marijuana dispensaries to begin popping up in the state.

However, some Native Tribes have already started selling marijuana. They’ve leaned into sovereign status to avoid the state’s regulations.  

What happens if traveling with recreational marijuana?

Recreational marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. That said, those traveling through airports in New York don’t have to worry about getting in trouble for possessing small amounts of marijuana. In fact, this changed when police across the state stopped making arrests associated with marijuana possession.

“There has been no change in the way that TSA handles marijuana or other drugs that TSA officers come across when they are performing their security duties. TSA officers are not looking for marijuana or other drugs, however if they come across it during the regular security screening process, TSA will notify local police at the airport because marijuana is illegal from a federal perspective. It is up to the police as to how they want to handle it. This is how it is handled in every state and every airport. That has not changed,” TSA officials said over the summer.

If driving across multiple states — experts say to be careful. It’s still illegal at the federal level, which means there could be repercussions for being found in possession in another place.

How much recreational marijuana can you possess legally in New York?

Through legalization of recreational marijuana New York State has eliminated penalties for possession of less than three ounces of cannabis for anyone 21 and older. A larger quantity of marijuana can be possessed at home or in a secured place. 

What if you were arrested for possession before recreational marijuana legalization?

Anyone who was arrested on low level possession charges before legalization of recreational marijuana had records expunged. This was a process that the state said would take up to two years to fully implement.

Has impaired driving increased where recreational marijuana has been legalized?

Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has found that impaired driving increased in states where recreational marijuana was legalized. Institute President David Harkey said impaired-driving crashes already account for more than 30% of driving fatalities, which could rise as marijuana legalization expands across other states.

He called it a concerning trend, but so far it hasn’t concerned state lawmakers in the U.S. enough to prevent recreational marijuana measures from getting across the finish line.

Will President Biden legalize recreational marijuana?

The federal government hasn’t moved forward with any steps to legalize recreational marijuana. There have been calls for it — but nothing has stuck in Congress. As more states move toward legalization — it becomes increasingly likely that a nationwide measure will come.