Another busy year for the cannabis industry has ended—from the possible rescheduling of marijuana to Ohio becoming the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana. 

As we herald 2024, only 10 more states are needed to go green before the US Congress holds a constitutional amendment. This is to align with the changing laws about cannabis. 

With several legal movements and challenges in the past year (federal and state) it’s time we outline the important ones and those that are crucial for your cannabis business. 

Read on to be updated. 

???? Key Legislation Updates
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as the DEA’s primary advisor, recommends rescheduling marijuana from its current Schedule I classification down to Schedule III. 
President Joseph R. Biden Jr. issued a proclamation granting pardon for those previously convicted with marijuana-related offenses.
The Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act of 2023, which aims to help cannabis businesses safely partner with financial institutions, is up for consideration on the Senate floor. 
The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act and several cannabis bills are pending consideration in Congress. 
Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, and the Virgin Islands recently legalized the adult use of cannabis in 2023. 

Summarizing the Legal Cannabis Landscape of 2023


2023 is a year of progress for marijuana policy reform in the US. Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, and the Virgin Islands (a US territory) green light policies legalizing the possession of adult-use marijuana. Some states have enacted laws regulating retail cannabis including dispensaries. 

For the first time, since hemp became officially legal in 2018, more Americans are living in states where cannabis is legal than those who aren’t. 

Additionally, several steps were taken to uphold and improve the rights of cannabis consumers in states where the plant is legal. Policies touching on preventing workplace discrimination and the expungement of criminal records for marijuana-related cases have been enacted.

So far, ten states passed laws prohibiting employers from refusing to hire and firing employees for cannabis consumption during breaktime. More importantly, more than 1.7 million cannabis-based criminal records have been expunged due to the laws enacted across 24 states. 

It’s also important to note the efforts of lawmakers in expanding the access of patients to medical cannabis. Kentucky is the latest state (in addition to 37 states) to create a regulatory framework for the production and distribution of medical cannabis.

It’s becoming apparent that there was motivation from state lawmakers to pass consumer-centric cannabis policy reforms in 2023. 

At the federal level, the Department of Health and Services (HHS) is taking steps toward re-categorizing marijuana. If finalized in 2024, marijuana will be defined as a drug with “moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence…” under Schedule III.

Top Cannabis Legalization Updates To Know

See some of the most recent and biggest cannabis legalization news and policy progress across various levels below. 


Here are the latest legislation efforts for the cannabis industry at the federal level filed in 2023. 

HHS Is Looking to Reschedule Marijuana From Schedule I to Schedule III

On August 29, 2023, HHS recommended to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to reschedule marijuana from Schedule I down to Schedule III. This recommendation is still under review via DEA. 

HHS is the DEA’s primary advisor concerning scheduling, de-scheduling, or rescheduling substances under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). However, the final say still lies in the DEA.

While rescheduling marijuana does not mean legalizing, this move once enacted will have the biggest impact spanning 40 years. As opposed to being prohibited, marijuana would be regulated on the Federal level. 

President Biden Issued Pardon for Those With Marijuana-Based Offenses

On December 22, 2023, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. issued a proclamation granting pardon for those with offenses of simple possession, attempted simple possession, and use of marijuana. 

Biden also granted clemency to 11 individuals with disproportionately long sentences for non-violent drug offenses. 

The SAFER Banking Act Remains In Progress

The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act aims to help state-sanctioned cannabis businesses access deposited accounts, insurance, payment processors, and other financial services. 

The SAFE Act, amended as the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act of 2023, remains to be considered on the Senate floor. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer promises to deliver a quick call to vote as soon as possible this year (2024). 

Several Pending Cannabis Bills In Congress

While the DEA is in the process of weighing rescheduling marijuana, several bills on cannabis legalization are pending in Congress for consideration. 

One bill, under Rep. Jerry Nadler, reintroduced the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R. 5601). This piece of legislation aims for the following:

  • The removal of marijuana from the CSA list
  • The decriminalization of marijuana-based offenses at the federal level
  • The expungement of specific cannabis offenses

Rep. Nancy Mace filed another bill pursuing the amending of marijuana under the CSA. The States Reform Act of 2023 (H.R. 6028) also has a decriminalization theme and touches on the following:

  • Regulation of marijuana like alcohol
  • Medical cannabis products into interstate commerce
  • Cannabis-based small business provisions
  • Cannabis excise tax
  • Non-discrimination for hiring veteran medical cannabis users

Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Ohio reintroduced “Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act” in December. This bill strives to ensure the independence of all states to determine their approach to cannabis legalization. 

The 2023 Farm Bill Aims to Tie Loose Ends of the 2018 Farm Bill

The industry awaits the finalization of the 2023 version of the 2018 Farm Bill which is expected to be tackled this year (2024). Authors of the bill are hoping to provide further provisions to the original bill, addressing intoxicating THC analogs like Delta 8 THC. 


States continue to pave the way for marijuana legalization and policy reforms. Here are some developments you don’t want to miss. 


Ohio successfully legalized adult-use marijuana in 2023. The new law that won in a citizen-initiated landslide, allows the purchase, possession, and home-based cultivation of cannabis. 

Adults 21 years old and above can purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis flower and 15 grams of cannabis extract. Ohioans are also allowed to grow them at home at a limit of six plants per adult.

A 10% tax, added to the suggested retail price of cannabis products, will be spent on administrative costs, addiction centers, and municipalities. 


Smart and Safe Florida, a non-profit organization, sponsored an adult-use legalization measure poised for the 2024 November ballot. The Florida Supreme Court is about to give its final say on whether the measure is fit to be included in this year’s ballot. 

For context, the Florida Supreme Court barred two cannabis legalization attempts from appearing on the ballot (in 2021 and 2022). The ruling determined the language to be misleading to voters. 


The Aloha State remains to be a “medical-only” cannabis state in the US and is yet to legalize adult-use marijuana. 2024 could be the turning point as the Hawaii Senate voted 22-3 in favor of the adult-use legalization bill (Senate Bill 669). 

Unfortunately, House Speaker Scott Saiki blocked the adult-use legalization bill. He said he needed to see a more comprehensive bill that addresses the contrasting federal restrictions and law enforcement protocols about marijuana.

Now, with a 2024 legislative session underway and a revised 315-page draft bill for adult-use marijuana, the bill is expected to advance through the House this year. 

New Hampshire

The only New England state that hasn’t legalized recreational cannabis appears to be considering an adult-use cannabis sales model. 

Under the proposed plan, the state allows the establishment of up to 67 cannabis stores only. The proposal which wrapped in November 2023 didn’t sit right with Gov. Chris Sununu who insisted the number of cannabis retail establishments should only be 15. 

Time will tell whether another adult-use legalization program will make it through the statehouse this 2024. 


The state of Wisconsin is one of the nine US states without a medical cannabis program. However, the state might be waking up to one as Democratic governor, Tony Evers, said he’s willing to consider signing a limited medical cannabis program free from unrelated or extreme provisions. 

One of the specifics of the state-run program, led by Rep. Jon Plumer, would only initially include five non-smokeable medical cannabis stores. Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services would manage the retail facilities and employ pharmacists for dispensing products.

South Dakota

South Dakota made multiple attempts to approve the use of recreational cannabis. The state went close to achieving it in 2020 when the majority of voters agreed to push both medical and adult-use cannabis legalization at the same time. The victory was shortlived through a Supreme Court ruling striking the measure unconstitutional due to the “single-subject rule.” 

The Sunshine State is back at it again with Better Marijuana Laws leading a signature drive in support of adult-use legalization for the ballot this November 2024. 

Better Marijuana Laws is a nonprofit political organization working on reforming cannabis laws in South Dakota since 2019. 


Idaho remains part of the small number of states that prohibit the medical and adult use of marijuana. The state could see a breakthrough in medical cannabis legalization measures this 2024 via a legislative ballot. 

The group Kind Idaho is working on the collection of at least 62,896 signatures before May 1. Their mission is to place The Idaho Medical Marijuana Act in the November 5 election.


Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana led the 2024 ballot initiative back in September. They filed two separate petitions—to establish a doctor-patient system and the regulation of the medical cannabis industry. 

The campaign needs at least 87,000 signatures for each petition before July 3, 2024, to land on the November 5 ballot. 


The Bluegrass State partly legalized medical marijuana for qualified patients back in January 2023. The executive order, signed by Governor Andy Beshear, barred any litigation, court ruling, or legislation that may block it from being effective.

In its recent legislative move, Kentucky through State Rep. Nima Kulkarni made efforts to decriminalize the following: 

  • Marijuana possession of an ounce or less
  • Personal use of marijuana
  • Possession of paraphernalia

Additionally, House Bill 72 would retroactively expunge cannabis-based convictions.


Pennsylvania is part of 24 states without a referendum that allows its citizens to vote on measures and programs. Any change in legislation about adult-use and medical cannabis would need to go through the state legislature system.

Currently, only one bipartisan adult-use marijuana bill is up for consideration. If passed, SB846 will allow adults 21 years and older to buy, possess, and use cannabis. Some limitations include only possessing up to 30 grams of cannabis flower. 

State Senator Mike Regan is currently studying the bill proposed by Senators Dan Laughlin and Sharif Street. 

North Carolina

The House is now in the process of deciding the fate of the Senate-approved medical cannabis bill. Once passed, S.B. 3 will allow the establishment of 10 stores from cannabis companies. House Speaker Tim Moore is waiting for the majority of the chamber’s members to agree on something before he calls for a vote. 

Check your state’s stance when it comes to cannabis legalization in this chart. 

StateLegalized Marijuana for Medical UseLegalized Marijuana for Adult-UseState Law
AlabamaCode of Alabama 1975
AlaskaSenate Bill 27
ArizonaSenate Bill 1098
ArkansasArkansas House Bill 1372
CaliforniaCalifornia State Bill AB-45
ColoradoAmendment 64
ConnecticutSenate Bill 893 and Senate Bill 1201
DelawareSenate Bill 226
FloridaSenate Bill 1020
GeorgiaHouse Bill 213
HawaiiHouse Bill 1819
IdahoIdaho Code §37-2705
IndianaSB 516
LouisianaLouisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control
MaineLD 1159 and H.P. 459
MinnesotaChapter 18K
MississippiSB 2725
MissouriAmendment 3
MontanaAdult-Use Marijuana law
NebraskaNebraska Hemp Farming Act
NevadaRegulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act
New HampshireHouse Bill 459
New JerseyAssembly Bill 5322
New MexicoSB 523 and the New Mexico Cannabis Regulation Act
New YorkNew York Office of Cannabis Management’s guidelines
North CarolinaSB 352
North DakotaMedical Marijuana Program
OhioSB 57
OklahomaSB 1033
PennsylvaniaHB 967
Rhode IslandThe Rhode Island Cannabis Act
South CarolinaSouth Carolina Hemp Farming Act
South DakotaHB 1008
TexasSB 339
UtahHemp and Cannabinoid Act
VirginiaHB 2312
WashingtonInitiatives 692 and 502
West VirginiaSection 16A-3-2


Cannabis legalization, policies, and other legal movements are still playing out around the world. Get the latest and most important developing news on the international scene. 


Ukraine’s parliament passed a law legalizing the use of cannabis for medicinal, scientific, and industrial purposes in December 2023. 

Prime Minister Denys Smyhal proposed the law to address the increasing cases of post-traumatic stress disorder due to the ongoing war. The law, which takes effect in six months, passed by 248 over 153 votes. 

The adult use of marijuana remains to be illegal in Ukraine. 


Seven cannabis companies in Panama were awarded the license to manufacture medical cannabis products. This was after a lengthy discussion with Panama’s National Directorate of Pharmacy and Drugs. 

The following companies were the first batch of manufacturing licenses awarded since the legalization of medical cannabis in Panama:

  • Canna Med Panama
  • Consorcio Adeiwa Pharma
  • Consorcio Ecovid
  • Consorcio Green Med
  • Consorcio Panamericana de Cannabis
  • Consorcio Tilray Panama
  • Farma Verde Corp
????????‍♀️ Helpful Article
Opening a cannabinoid business is more than just establishing a brick-and-mortar store. Several state-based requirements need to be accomplished such as licensing and acquiring a permit to operate. 

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic’s National Economic Council (NERV) recommends regulating the cannabis market to help stir the country’s economy. As an independent advisory body, NERV is tasked to advise the government concerning economic reforms. 

According to, the government presented a draft version of a cannabis bill that allowed the possession of the plan, home cultivation, and the establishment of marijuana social clubs. The said draft hasn’t been made public yet but it will be likely presented this 2024. 


Health Minister Karl Lauterbach expects that the marijuana legalization process in Germany will kick off by April 2024. If everything goes according to plan, Germany will be the first country in Europe to legalize the plant. 

Here are some of the themes the law is expected to tackle:

  • The decriminalization of cannabis
  • Home cultivation
  • Cultivation clubs


The Minister of Public Health, Mr. Cholnan Srikaew rolled out a new cannabis legislation that reverses the former recreational cannabis passed by the previous administration. 

If finalized, the new law will regulate the consumption of cannabis to solely cater to medical applications only. It would ban the recreational use of cannabis in the entire country. 


Parliament voted in favor of legalizing the medical and industrial use of cannabis but with limitations on THC content. After the final decision on December 14, Ghana’s Interior Minister is preparing to issue licenses to cultivate cannabis. 

Notably, the new law implements a 0.3% THC limit on all cannabis crops, matching the US-based 2018 Farm Bill. 


In a bold move, Dutch cities, Breda and Tilburg launched a trial that temporarily allows the production and supply of cannabis. Lawmakers wanted to see if it would resolve conflicts brought upon by organized gangs and associated crimes. 

The trial involves regulated farms supplying quality and pesticide-free cannabis to coffee shops. 

Important Legal Updates on Hemp in the US

Now, unto some national and state-level news about the federally legal cannabis variant—hemp. 

South Dakota Lawmakers Are Considering Easing Hemp Testing Standards

Officials are moving to align South Dakota’s hemp testing standards with federal regulations. This would considerably lower the standards in place and make it easier for hemp cultivators. 

As the largest source of hemp for fiber and cannabidiol (CBD), South Dakota law requires hemp to only contain below or at 0.3% Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Any plant exceeding the 0.3% THC threshold would need to be retested.

Under Republican Sen. Joshua Klumb’s proposed Senate Bill 117, hemp would only need to be retested if it exceeds 1% of THC content. the U.S. Department of Agriculture published the same measure in 2021.

USDA Forces Cannabis Farmers to Choose A Lane: Either Grow Hemp or Marijuana Only

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now revoking multiple licenses of farmers growing hemp and marijuana at the same time. The move was triggered by some cannabis farmers possessing multiple licenses from different states. 

Farmers affected by the USDA policy considered the act as a “huge blow” to their business. One farmer reported losing at least $250,000 in revenue after the revocation. 

Looking Ahead

2023 is the pinnacle of the post-pandemic age and the cannabis industry was just beginning to pop with movements on the legislation side. Suffice it to say, that last year was action-packed. Several legislation initiatives kickstarted only to be continued this year. 

Some are not so keen on opening a business this 2024. Many are still waiting for the big decisions to be finalized such as the possible rescheduling of marijuana. 

Economists would advise otherwise. The fact is, when you strip these uncertainties, what remains is a strong industry in an upward trend. Any growth is still an opportunity to take, so if you’re ruminating about starting a dispensary or cannabis brand, there is no better time than now. 

Looking for an established partner that sells wholesale cannabis prices? The Hemp Doctor Wholesale has been providing fan favorites from CBD to THCA for 13 years. 

Stock up your hemp store with in-demand products at wholesale prices, now.


What’s the Alabama recreational legalization update?

The adult use of cannabis is still illegal in Alabama although medical marijuana is allowed in the state via the Senate Bill 46 signed in 2021. 

Is there a new Minnesota recreational legalization update?

Yes. Minnesota became the 23rd state to legalize the adult use of cannabis last year. The decision was solidified last November 2023. 

What’s the Mississippi recreational legalization update?

Recreational marijuana is still illegal in Mississippi even after legalizing the medical cannabis program through the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act.

Does Texas have a cannabis legalization update?

Texas currently only allows low-THC medical marijuana. However, the state has also legalized hemp production.