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2023 Cannabis Year In Review: NORML’s Top Ten Events In Marijuana Policy Progress and Pitfalls: Highlights of the 2023 Marijuana Policy Landscape

#1: Expansion of Adult-Use Marijuana Legalization Laws

In 2023, Delaware, Minnesota, Ohio, and Maryland enacted legislation to legalize adult-use marijuana possession and regulate retail cannabis markets. Sales began on July 1st in Maryland. Additionally, the US Virgin Islands approved an adult-use legalization law. With these enactments, the majority of US citizens now reside in states where cannabis is state-legal.

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano highlighted the significance, stating, “For the first time since the adoption of federal marijuana prohibition, more US citizens reside in jurisdictions where cannabis is state-legal than live somewhere where it is not.”

#2: HHS Recommends DEA Reclassify Cannabis

Bloomberg News reported in August that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended the reclassification of cannabis from a Schedule I to a Schedule III controlled substance. The Biden Administration initiated the review last year. However, the final authority regarding drug scheduling under the Controlled Substances Act rests with the DEA, which has yet to publicly take any action on the matter.

NORML has criticized proposals for rescheduling cannabis, advocating for the removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act altogether, similar to alcohol regulation.

#3: Public Support for Adult-Use Legalization

Gallup’s polling data revealed that a record 70 percent of US adults support the legalization of marijuana. NORML’s Political Director Morgan Fox emphasized the growing acceptance and stated, “There’s no ‘buyers’ remorse’ among the public when it comes to legalizing cannabis. As more states have adopted legalization, public support for this policy has risen dramatically.”

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Other Gallup polling found that most Americans believe marijuana use poses fewer health risks than alcohol or cigarettes, and half of all Americans aged 18 and older have tried cannabis.

#4: Workplace Protections for Cannabis Consumers

Michigan and Washington enacted legislation in 2023 to halt public employers from conducting pre-employment marijuana testing for non-safety-sensitive positions. Several other states and municipalities have adopted similar measures. NORML applauded these developments, advocating for fair employment practices.