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Marijuana Decriminalization & Legalization Trends for 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the cannabis industry – and the world as a whole – into great uncertainty. With the federal decriminalization of marijuana on hold, you may have been tempted to wait and let some of the uncertainty settle before trying to expand or start your cannabis business.

Now that things seem to be moving forward again, there are a number of state and national developments to watch over the next two years. You’ll want to be ready to act as quickly as possible to set yourself up for your best chance of success.

Cannabis bud and leaf with handcuffs illustrating legal, legal and decriminalization concepts

Here are some upcoming state and national trends in marijuana decriminalization and legalization to help you decide what to do next for your cannabusiness in 2022.


Currently, Delaware is legalized for medical use only. However, their adult-use bill, HB150, is expected to be voted on in 2022. According to Proposed Marijuana Policy, the majority of Delawares support both the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, so it seems very likely that this bill will pass.

Bill HB150 was actually supposed to pass in 2021, but Delaware lawmakers still appear to be working on its amendment. Instead, it was pushed back to the next session in January 2022.

If HB150 passes, it will move quite quickly. Just 19 months after the effective date of adoption, the state will already issue licenses to 30 retailers (15 for social equity), 60 growers (20 for social equity) and 30 product manufacturers (10 for l equity and 10 for microenterprises) .

The process is going to be very competitive, applications will be graded and the application window will likely be short, so start your application as soon as possible.

North Carolina

North Carolina Medical Marijuana Bill Revisions, SB711, were approved in August this year by the Senate Judiciary Committee. However, the bill still needs another full vote and then it will have to clear the health care and operations committees to reach the Senate floor for a final vote.

The regulations will include a significant role for the physician and applicants must have been residents of the state for at least two years. For the regulatory authority, North Carolina will likely follow Alabama’s lead and create a nine-member cannabis production commission.

Most people in North Carolina seem to support cannabis for medical purposes only, not the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana for adult use. Although the bill is moving slowly, for a southern state and a new medical program, SB711 is not as restrictive as some regions in terms of eligibility requirements.

Currently, no southern state has an adult use program, and none likely will in the next few years. except potentially Florida.


If Wyoming gets enough signatures by the Feb. 14 deadline, residents will have the opportunity to vote on a medical cannabis bill to support the decriminalization of marijuana in 2022. But it’s likely to be a slow rollout for the medical program, and there’s not a lot of information yet on what the program would look like.

Marijuana Decriminalization and Legalization Trends for 2022

Keep an eye on Wyoming throughout early next year for new developments.

Other states to watch for future developments

If a year seems like too short a time and you’d rather have a little more time to get your head around it, here are some states to watch for developments in decriminalization and legalization of marijuana in late 2022 or 2023.


It’s a good idea to start preparing in 2022 for Virginia’s adult use program, although applications won’t be accepted until 2023. When those applications open, Virginia will allow up to 400 licenses retailers for less than 50 crops. and 16 manufacturers.

The decriminalization and legalization of marijuana in Virginia will likely lead to increased competition and a shorter application window, so start getting everything in order now. That way, when the state starts accepting applications, you’ll be ready.


from oregon moratorium on cultivation licenses is due to end on January 2, 2022, but that does not necessarily mean that they will open an application window.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission will have the final say on whether to add more crops and accept cultivation licenses, as well as how many they will accept and what it would look like.

If the state opens nominations, it will likely be similar to what Denver did with its social equity nominees by limiting it to people who have lived in the state for 15 years.


Alabama’s application window is expected to open on September 1, 2022. The market will be very competitive and connection-based, so now is the time to start building relationships with the right people.

Connect with community and local officials by attending city council meetings to gauge the level of interest and acceptance of marijuana decriminalization and legalization. Also talk to other local business owners and express your interest in opening a cannabis business there.

As you make these connections, check to see if you qualify for social equity and who can be on your social equity team. Much of the preparation for opening in Alabama will rely on the belief of the people in your municipality that your business will be an asset to the community, so these connections are crucial.

Federal decriminalization of marijuana

While the economics of federal decriminalization of marijuana would be beneficial, there are other priorities at this time. Democrats seem to be playing the next four years safe, and President Biden probably doesn’t want to be the president to legalize – even decriminalize – cannabis.

Too much is uncertain right now, especially with COVID-19, so the decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level has taken a back seat. Yet many lawmakers continue to propose bills and push to pass them. And although lobbying has plummeted due to the pandemic, it is beginning to pick up.

If you are considering opening a cannabis business and are waiting for the federal decriminalization of marijuana before doing so, don’t. It is best to start doing your research, find a state and enter now, as there is no way of knowing how long you would wait for decriminalization to occur.

The cannabis industry is all about good planning and strong relationships. Contact HYC to ensure that you give yourself the best chance of success in this highly competitive market.

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