Medical Marijuana

Jordan Milholland
Managing Research Analyst

Leighann Thone
Research Analyst

Medical marijuana use is legal in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Recreational use of marijuana is legal in 21 states and the District of Columbia.

In recent years, several bills were introduced to legalize medical or recreational marijuana use in Kansas. Legislation that would have legalized medical marijuana in Kansas received a floor vote for the first time in 2021, as House Sub. for SB 158 passed out of the Kansas House 79-42.

Marijuana Legalization in the U.S.

Marijuana Legalization in Other States

Medical Use. Laws in the 37 states, and the District of Columbia, that provide for comprehensive medical marijuana and cannabis programs meet the following criteria: protection from criminal penalties for using marijuana for a medical purpose; access to marijuana through home cultivation, dispensaries, or some other system that is likely to be implemented; allowance for a variety of strains or products; and allowance for either smoking or vaporization of marijuana products, plant material, or extract.

Another 11 states allow the use of low-THC, high-cannabidiol (CBD) products for specific medical conditions, or provide a legal defense for their possession. The following seven states have recently enacted comprehensive medical marijuana laws after previously legalizing low- THC products: Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah, and Virginia.

Recreational Use. As of December 2022, the following 21 states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, and the District of Columbia.

Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia legalized recreational use of marijuana through the legislative process, while the remaining states used a ballot initiative. In South Dakota, a successful ballot initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana was ruled unconstitutional by a Circuit Judge; the South Dakota Supreme Court upheld this decision on November 24, 2021, by a vote of 4-1.

Recent Kansas Legislation

In 2021, H. Sub. for SB 158 would have enacted a medical marijuana regulatory system.
In 2022, the Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs held hearings on SB 560, which similarly would have enacted a medical marijuana regulatory system.

2022 Special Committee on Medical Marijuana

The Special Committee on Medical Marijuana met on four days during the Interim to receive testimony from state agencies, law enforcement, local government, the business community, and private citizens and to receive answers to research questions. The Special Committee is also directed to make recommendations to the 2023 Kansas Legislature for comprehensive medical marijuana legislation.

The Special Committee made a recommendation that when the Legislature consider medical marijuana legislation, that it especially consider the information and perspectives provided on topics related to laboratory testing, taxes, licensing, methods of administration, and physicians, among other topics.

The full report of the Special Committee will be available here.