Poll after poll reveals that Americans are in favor of regulating cannabis just like alcohol and tobacco, and even though the nation voted overwhelmingly in favor of granting adults easier access to the herb last year, not many states legalized or decriminalized marijuana in 2017. On November 8, 2016, residents in the states of California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada voted to approve the recreational use of cannabis by adults (while residents in Arizona voted against their state's proposal) but only one of those states implemented marijuana legalization in 2017, and only one other state decriminalized the herb this year. However, several other states took legislative action in 2017 to reduce penalties for small-time cannabis offenses. To help you better understand the legislative changes that took place across the United States this year, here we list every American state that legalized or decriminalized marijuana in 2017, as well as those that lessened penalties for cannabis possession.
- Nevada began allowing the legal retail sale of recreational cannabis from state-licensed dispensaries on July 1, 2017, and the state allows adults who are at least 21 years old (residents and visitors alike) to have buy up to one ounce of cannabis (or up to 1/8 ounce of concentrate) at a time.
- New Hampshire decriminalized small amounts of marijuana with the passage of House Bill 640 in 2017, which reduced fines for possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce of cannabis from $2,000 to $100 for first-time and second-time offenses.
- Kansas lowered the the severity level for unlawful possession for drug paraphernalia from a class A to a class B non-person misdemeanor with the passage of Senate Bill 112.
- Montana reduced penalties for the possession of less than 60 grams of cannabis to a misdemeanor with no jail time with the passage of House Bill 133.
- North Dakota reduced the charge of drug possession from a Class C felony to a Class A misdemeanor for first-time offenders with the passage of House Bill 1041 and reduced the mandatory minimum sentences with the passage of House Bill 1269.
- West Virginia passed House Bill 2579 to lessen the penalty for transporting marijuana into the state, as opposed to the increased penalties for transporting other controlled substances.