Marijuana plants grown at the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi through the National Institute on Drug Abuse Drug Supply Program.

As a region, the South has been comparably slow to embrace marijuana reform until recently. In the last year, Mississippi and Alabama lawmakers legalized the use of marijuana for qualified medical conditions. Louisiana has taken several steps to expand its medical marijuana program, including authorizing the use of cannabis in its raw flower form. North Carolina may consider a medical marijuana bill in the upcoming weeks, and South Carolina is in the process of debating its own version of the law.

The slow momentum hasn’t always reflected the demands of the population. A vast majority of U.S. adults (91%) favored marijuana legalization for medical use. Around 60% said it should be available only for recreational use, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey. Even in traditionally conservative states like Mississippi, an overwhelming percentage of voters favored marijuana legalization for medical use. Around 74% of voters approved the program initially in November 2020.

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