Only 22 States Have Not Yet Legalized Medical Marijuana

February 25, 2017
First Harvest Financial


Twenty-eight states have legalized medical cannabis, meaning the United States has crossed the halfway point in the number of states that have approved the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. As more and more states join the so-called “Green Revolution” in the US, the rate at which more move to legalize medical cannabis has increased exponentially.

Though both medical and recreational cannabis use remain illegal at the federal level, many states in the US have adopted a more liberal attitude toward the plant. California was the first state to legalize medical use in 1996, followed closely by Alaska, Oregon, and Washington in 1998. Since then, other states have modeled their own medical cannabis programs off these flagship programs, which have demonstrated successful licensing, taxing, and selling practices.

2016 proved to be a monumental year for cannabis. Voters in nine different states saw legalization on the ballot, and on November 8, voters in Florida, Arkansas, and North Dakota approved extensive medical cannabis programs, while Montana voters approved commercial cultivation and dispensaries, resurrecting the medical program in their state. In Ohio and Pennsylvania, congressional bills legalized medical marijuana in 2016.

After such a notable year, experts in a number of industries have high hopes for the future of cannabis in the United States. At the federal level, there is little chance, especially under the new presidential administration, that much movement will occur in regards to legalization. At the state level, on the other hand, the legalization movement is not expected to lose any steam.

Medical cannabis supporters have four additional states that have decriminalized marijuana use in the past, but have not yet successfully passed any ballot initiatives to legalize medicinal use of the plant, on their radars. North Carolina, Nebraska, Missouri, and Mississippi are among the top contenders to see medical cannabis on the ballot next.

Legalization by any of these four states in the near future would not only make medical cannabis more widely accessible to patients, but would help extend the legalization movement into somewhat uncharted territories. With the exception of Florida and Arkansas, much of the southern United States has yet to legalize medical marijuana; the additions of North Carolina and Mississippi to the list of medical programs could help ignite legalization among other southern states. The Midwest is another area that has little representation in the legalization movement. Approved medical programs in Missouri and Nebraska could be the motivation other Midwestern states need to initiate their own programs.

There are a variety of issues that continue to challenge those working within the legal cannabis industry, which unfortunately tend to affect the patients who have been waiting to test marijuana’s therapeutic properties. The medical industry achieved incredible success in recent years because of federal reforms put in place under former President Obama. It is impossible to say whether or not the same cooperation will be shown between state regulations and federal regulations as the federal government transitions to accommodate its new leadership. But, the hope is that as the legalization movement continues to spread and scientific research supports the use of medical cannabis, and that cooperation will persist, allowing the medical cannabis industry to flourish.

The medical cannabis industry is quickly becoming a solid investment. Furthermore, investing in the space helps advance medical technologies that could benefit countless patients. To learn more about the services First Harvest Financial offers, visit