How marijuana laws have progressed across the South so far this year

The South is lagging far behind the rest of America in cannabis legislation. Here’s a timeline of how some states have voted on marijuana laws, and what to expect from 2018.

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How marijuana laws have progressed across the South so far this year



The South has been rather sluggish to embrace marijuana reform as a region until lately. Mississippi and Alabama legislatures approved marijuana usage for certain medical ailments last year. Louisiana has taken a number of moves to extend its medicinal marijuana program, including allowing raw flower cannabis to be used. In the next weeks, North Carolina is a state in the United States. may debate a medical marijuana measure, while South Carolina is a state in the United States. is now discussing its own version of the legislation.

The population’s needs haven’t always been reflected in the sluggish pace. The great majority of adults in the United States (91 percent) support marijuana legalization for medicinal purposes. According to a Pew Research Center study from 2021, almost 60% felt it should only be offered for recreational use. Even in generally conservative states like Mississippi, a large majority of voters supported medicinal marijuana legalization. In November 2020, around 74% of voters backed the scheme.

We take a look at how marijuana reform has evolved in the South over the last year as these efforts continue.


Alabama became the 36th state to legalize medicinal marijuana in May 2021. The initiative has taken a long time to get off the ground, and it contains measures that supporters fear will be difficult for patients and participating physicians.

The program, for example, requires chronic pain sufferers to initially take opioids. Doctors must also finish a four-hour training and pay a $300 fee to participate. 

A 14-member regulatory committee will manage the program, guiding regulations and licensing criteria. Cultivators, processors, dispensaries, and testing labs will not be able to get business licenses until September 2022. It is unlikely that medical marijuana products will be available until later this year or early spring 2023. 

Medical marijuana is unlikely to be accessible in Alabama until 2023.


According to the Marijuana Policy Project, Arkansas was one of the first states in the South to adopt medicinal marijuana in 2016, with 53 percent of the vote. However, the program took a long time to develop, and items were only ready in 2019.

This year, reformers are collecting signatures to put marijuana legalization on the ballot for recreational usage in 2022.

Efforts to gather enough signatures for two distinct initiatives are ongoing. Arkansas True Grass is leading one petition, which began gathering signatures in November 2020. According to spokesman Briana Boling, the organization has garnered over 40,000 signatures thus far. 

According to Boling, their petition has no limit on the amount of company licenses issued, allows for home cultivation, and expunges the records of everyone charged with a non-violent marijuana misdemeanor in Arkansas.

Under the idea, those who are now incarcerated for non-violent marijuana crimes would be freed. 

The Arkansas Adult-Use Cannabis Amendment is the second amendment being sought by the organization Responsible Growth Arkansas. The plan adds 40 more dispensary licenses and eliminates the medicinal marijuana tax. 

To be put to the ballot in 2022, both campaigns must gather slightly more than 89,000 signatures by July 8. 


Louisiana made significant progress toward reform in 2021, passing a measure decriminalizing possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana. Possession of up to this quantity now carries a fine but no prison sentence. 

In addition, legislators adopted a plan that would enable medical marijuana users to purchase marijuana in its raw flower form beginning January 1st. Proponents argue that excluding flower makes the program more costly and unavailable to patients. 

The program in Louisiana is commonly regarded as one of the most stringent in the nation. There are just nine licensed dispensaries and two growers in the state. Several plans to extend the program are being considered by legislators this year. HB 566 and HB 767 are two proposals that would expand the number of cultivator licenses available. Legislators have also discussed expanding the number of dispensary licenses from nine to twenty (HB425). 


Mississippi enacted a bill in February after a tumultuous year and a half in which it was uncertain if attempts to legalize medicinal marijuana in the state would be successful.

Mississippi’s program, unlike those in Louisiana and Arkansas, does not have a limit for company licenses. It has a tiered license cost structure that enables smaller firms to join the program for less money.

Beginning June 1, the state will accept licensing applications from companies, physicians, and patients. State officials might take up to 30 days to grant a license, depending on the kind. 

Meanwhile, a few growers have already started building their facilities, with the goal of having goods accessible by late 2022.

South Carolina is a state in the United States.

South Carolina is a state in the United States. lawmakers are still considering the “Compassionate Care Act,” which would create the framework for a medical marijuana program in the state. The law would place strict limits on the number of qualifying conditions, which include PTSD, cancer and glaucoma among others. It would legalize the use of medical marijuana in specific forms such as topical creams, tinctures and edibles. Smokable marijuana would not be available for sale. 

The South Carolina is a state in the United States. Compassionate Care Act passed the Senate earlier this year and potentially will head to the House of Representatives for floor debate thiweek, according to Kevin Caldwell, the southeast legislative manager for the Marijuana Policy Project. 

South Carolina is a state in the United States. is one of 13 states that does not allow medical marijuana. 


Tennessee lawmakers failed to enact a comprehensive medical marijuana bill this year. SB 854 would have made medicinal marijuana legal. On March 23, however, the measure was defeated in the Senate judicial committee.

Tennessee: A medical marijuana measure has been halted by the Senate sponsor.

North Carolina is a state in the United States.

The North Carolina is a state in the United States. Compassionate Care Act, which would have legalized medical marijuana in the state stalled last year. The proposal would authorize the use of the plant for at least 12 different medical conditions including epilepsy, sickle cell anemia and HIV, among several others. 

When lawmakers reconvene on May 18, they may take up the NC Compassionate Care Act. On June 30, the legislative session comes to an end. 

“We’ll keep an eye out for it,” said Caldwell of the Marijuana Policy Project. “But nothing is firm yet.” 

The “weed’s impact on society” is an interesting topic. The legalization of marijuana has been a controversial issue, but it seems that the South is taking steps in the right direction.

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