Where does your state rank on cannabis freedom?

cannabis freedom

A yearly index added cannabis freedom to their list this year, ranking state economic, regulatory, and personal freedoms. Currently, 38 states have some form of legalized cannabis. Freedom in the 50 States 2023 identified where people had the most autonomy with the plant in the first Cannabis and Salvia Freedom section.

The Freedom Project was started in 2000 by the Cato Institute, a Washington D.C.-based Libertarian think tank whose founders include the CEO of oil conglomerate corporation Koch Industries. The yearly report highlights prevalent “efficiency, corruption, and respect for freedom” in each state.

Freedom in the 50 States tackles cannabis

In the report, Cannabis Freedom comes from multiple angles. The researchers surveyed potential loss consumers and producers incurred because they lived in prohibition states, both in terms of potential tax revenue and access to the plant.

For example, locales with limiting policies like home grow bans would be considered more prohibited than places with open plant counts. The cost of arrest and incarceration from cannabis prohibition was measured in a section entitled Incarceration and Arrests for Victimless Crimes, it was not included in the Cannabis Freedom report.

Many variables were considered to understand consumption levels and habits as they related to decriminalization, medical cannabis laws, and adult use. The medical marijuana law index dove into the scopes of qualifying conditions, maximum possession amounts, dispensary laws, and home grow regulations.

Statisticians also considered how adult-use legalization impacted consumption habits in adults and penalties for single and high-level cannabis offenses. This information was matched against weed habits in each state to measure the impact on consumption and in turn, personal and tax revenue.

The data showed that legal dispensaries and decriminalization both point to a lower consumer price for pot. Calculations also estimate a potential $5.4 billion economic surplus if the U.S finally enacted federal marijuana legalization.

Researchers mention that taxes are not considered in the statistical analysis, but they hope to include this dataset in 2024. Additionally, Delaware, Maryland, and Minnesota legalized adult use, and Kentucky legalized medical after the study closed. These notes impact the results. If the correlation between high taxes and a thriving legacy market were included, California may not rank so high. Now, onto the rankings.

Best and worst cannabis freedom states

The top five states for weed freedom are:

  1. California
  2. Maine
  3. Alaska
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Arizona

The lowest on the list for marijuana freedom are:

  1. Texas
  2. Tennessee
  3. Georgia
  4. Iowa
  5. South Carolina

States like California are always expected to land at the top of cannabis lists. However, many may have expected metropolitan hubs like New York or powerhouse Illinois to have more cannabis freedom. Both states ranked in the upper teens. Alternatively, most people probably expected to see the bottom five right where they are, though some might be surprised not to find Idaho (#39). Texas, which ranked lowest on cannabis freedom, also ranked lowest in overall freedom in the yearly index.

The Freedom in 50 States report highlights something apparent in the last decade: cannabis is no longer a partisan issue. Though the outliers remain in every party, Republican or Democrat, Libertarian or Socialist, most agree on one thing: it’s time to give up on pot prohibition.

Cara Wietstock is Senior Content Producer of GreenState.com and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.