Which US States and Territories Have Legalized Recreational and Medicinal Cannabis?
All but three states in the United States of America have legalized marijuana in some form in 2020, but each state is different - and each of their policies is equally unique. Which states and US territories allow legal weed? What are the legal limitations on marijuana imposed by each state? Where is recreational marijuana use allowed?
Only Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota, and the territory of American Samoa still fully restrict marijuana use, but many states where medicinal weed is legal still have restrictive policies. For example, several states only allow low-THC, CBD oil for non-medical use.
Here’s a handy rundown of which states and US territories have made marijuana use Fully Legal, which are Medical (Flower Allowed or CBD Oil Only), and where weed is still Not Legal. Oh, and we also have a special category just for the District of Columbia because It’s Complicated.
Alaska - Recreational use has been legal in Alaska since 2014. Adults 21 and over can possess up to an ounce of weed and six plants. In their first full year of legalization, 2017, Alaska reported over $1.7 Million in taxes collected just from cultivators.
California - Home to the so-called “Emerald Triangle” of Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties, where an estimated 60% of all weed consumed in the United States is grown, cannabis use has been medically legal since 1996 and recreationally legal since 2016. California has also issued licenses for on-site consumption, allowing the establishment of cannabis cafes in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Lompoc.
Colorado - CO beat California to legalizing recreational marijuana use in 2012, permitting legal consumption of weed for anyone over 21. Residents can carry and travel with up to one ounce of marijuana, grow up to six plants (as long as no more than half are mature), and gift up to one ounce to other CO citizens 21 and older. Since 2019, licensed businesses have also been permitted to open social marijuana smoking areas on-premises.
Guam - The first US territory to legalize weed, Guam has allowed medicinal use since 2015 and decriminalized recreational use in 2019.
Illinois - Starting January 1, 2020, Illinois legalized recreational use of marijuana - the first state to do so via their state legislature, rather than a ballot to state voters. Additionally, the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act is the first act of its kind that also allows for the expungement of past marijuana-related convictions. Legalization has proven to be popular, with over $3.2 Million collected in the first day of legal recreational sales alone, eclipsing states that had previously legalized.
Maine - One of the earliest states to do so, Maine celebrated the US Bicentennial in 1976 by decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. Medical use was made legal in 1999, and recreational legalization followed in 2016. In 2018, the state’s legislature also overturned Governor Paul LePage’s veto, allowing for the sale of recreational cannabis. Recreational sales are planned to begin in spring of 2020, but the state legislature is already planning updates including the allowance of adult-use deliveries.
Massachusetts - Recreational weed was legalized in 2016, with the first sales of legal marijuana beginning in 2018. Residents are permitted ten ounces in their home and one ounce outside of the home - as well as up to six plants. Massachusetts has specific laws about driving under the influence, similar to drinking laws, that also prohibit open containers of marijuana in the passenger seats.
Michigan - With recreational dispensaries set to open their doors in 2020, weed has been fully legal in MI since 2018. Residents are permitted 2.5 ounces of weed outside of home, 10 inside, as well as up to 12 plants per home. Some townships and municipalities have opted out of the “licensed establishments portion” of the Regulatory Act though, meaning that you’ll have to go a little further to find that primo shop.
Nevada - Recreational use has been permitted since 2017, following the legalization of medical use in 2000. NV residents are banned from growing their own weed, unless they live further than 25 miles from a licensed dispensary. Sales of recreational marijuana began on July 1, 2017, despite the efforts of casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who actually purchased an entire newspaper to actively oppose legalization.
Northern Marianas Islands - The CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018 decriminalized recreational (21+) and medicinal use of marijuana on the Northern Marianas Islands. The 2018 act was initially named for activist Peter Teulumwaar, who had advocated for legalization in years prior.
Oregon - Oregon became the first state to decriminalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana in 1973. Since then, the state legalized medical use in 1998, recreational use in 2015, and licensed sales through dispensaries in 2016. In 2019, an audit of Portland’s tax revenues from cannabis sales revealed that the collected taxes have allowed the city to fill gaps in their law enforcement, public transportation, and general funding programs.
Vermont - Vermont’s state legislature passed a bill allowing VT residents to legally possess up to one ounce and grow two plants of cannabis, though the 2018 Act failed to include any provisions to allow sales or taxation. Since 2019, the state legislature has vowed to figure out legalized sales, but progress remains forthcoming.
Washington - In 2012, Washington became the first US State to legalize recreational use of cannabis, having previously legalized medical use in 1998. The 2012 legislation also blazed the trail that led to the US Department of Justice to amend their policy to allow state-level legalization in 2013. Recreational stores first opened to residents in 2014, the same year that Washington also re-legalized the growing of industrial hemp.
District of Columbia - As you might imagine, the District of Columbia’s path to legalization is uniquely tricky. If you’re living in Washington, D.C., you are permitted to possess up to two ounces of marijuana, as well as so-called “drug paraphernalia” like bongs. Additionally, D.C. citizens can grow up to three mature and three immature cannabis plants. That all said, Washington, D.C. is still overseen by the US Congress, so the sale, purchase, or public consumption of weed - especially on Federal property - remains prohibited.
Medical Flower Allowed
Arizona - AZ allows for medical use of marijuana, with a limit of 2.5 ounces or 12 plants. Medical use requires an official card and is only permitted for specific conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, Glaucoma, ALS, multiple sclerosis, any wasting syndromes, seizures, and more. A 2016 attempt to legalize fully failed with only 48.7% of the vote.
Arkansas - A strict medical cannabis program is in place in Arkansas with notably few locations to purchase marijuana. Recreational possession remains illegal, punishable by up to one year in jail.
Connecticut - CT’s medical marijuana program allows residents with a wide array of conditions to legally use cannabis. While cannabis has been decriminalized generally, distribution remains a felony.
Delaware - Possession has been decriminalized up to 50 pounds of marijuana, though recreational use is still illegal. Medical marijuana is permitted for adults with serious illnesses, but medical cardholders have found trouble finding reasonably-priced weed within the state.
Florida - Florida allows those with a medical need for marijuana to obtain it, with the prescription of a doctor. Though medical use was originally specified to only include non-smoking products - like oils, edibles, etc. - this restriction was removed in 2019. While possessing small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized in some counties, like Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties since 2015, recreational use is still illegal throughout the state.
Hawaii - Medical marijuana has been allowed for Hawaii residents since 2000, with residents required to get what is called a 329 Registration Card, but it wasn’t until 2015 that a legal system of medical dispensaries were put into place. Beginning January 11th of 2020, possessing up to three grams of cannabis has been decriminalized down to a $130 fine.
Louisiana - While Louisiana has a medical marijuana program in place, only two locations in the state - Southern University and Louisiana State University - are permitted to grow cannabis. This has led to extensive issues of supply and demand. Additionally, there are only nine licensed pharmacies able to dispense, meaning that some patients have to travel an hour each direction to obtain medication costing anywhere between $90-250 per bottle.
Maryland - After five years of delay, Maryland’s system of legalized medical marijuana dispensaries came online in 2017. Originally, the medical program relied on just two universities, but has expanded to license over a dozen growers, processors, and dispensaries across the state. Since 2016, possession of less than 10 grams of cannabis, owning paraphernalia like rolling papers, and even smoking marjiuana in public have been decriminalized down to $500-fined civil offenses.
Missouri - CBD oil was legalized in 2014, with wider medicinal marijuana legalization passing in 2018 that allows residents to grow up to six plants and possess an amount of weed determined by state regulators (at least four ounces). Possession of small amounts of marijuana remains a misdemeanor in Missouri, so the state is only considered to be partially decriminalized.
Montana - Legalized by a ballot initiative, medical cannabis has been allowed in Montana since 2004 - though providers were not allowed to service more than three customers until 2016. The Montana Medical Marijuana (MMJ) program includes a list of specifically-qualifying conditions, which was recently amended to include PTSD.
New Hampshire - NH residents suffering from "chronic or terminal diseases" or "debilitating medical conditions” have been allowed legal access to medical marijuana since 2013 - though the legislation was extremely restrictive, noting that patients must have tried all other medical options before turning to cannabis. Since 2017, possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce of weed was decriminalized down to a $100 fine.
New Jersey - A bill legalizing medical marijuana was signed into law in 2010, creating a system of six, state-licensed, non-profit cultivators and dispensaries. The list of qualifying conditions was kept tightly controlled, due to resistance by now-former Governor Chris Christie, until the state’s Medical Marijuana Review Panel voted 5-1 to widely expand the list of qualifying conditions in 2017. In 2020, NJ residents will also be able to vote on a ballot referendum to potentially legalize recreational use of marijuana in the state.
New Mexico - Medical marijuana has been allowed in NM since 2017, as long as residents qualify on a list of potential conditions ranging from muscular dystrophy to HIV/AIDS to spinal cord injuries. In 2019, New Mexico’s governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill making first-time possession of up to a half ounce of marijuana a petty misdemeanor crime, punishable by a mere $50 fine. In addition, the governor has assembled the Cannabis Legalization Working Group to determine the viability of wider legalization in the 2020 legislative session.
New York - In 2019, New York state enacted reforms to expand decriminalization of possession of marijuana, but did not legalize recreational use. Medical marijuana is permitted for specific conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and more. Ownership of CBD oil with less than 0.3% THC remains in a “gray zone” of legality - legal to sell and possess, but prohibited from being added to food and drinks.
North Dakota - Medical use of marijuana was legalized in 2016, but recreational use remains fully illegal. The medical provisions do not allow ND residents to grow their own cannabis and, in 2017, the state issued licenses to two manufacturing companies to cultivate and process the state’s entire medical supply of products.
Ohio - Licensed medical marijuana sales began in Ohio in January of 2019, following the 2016 passage of a House bill legalizing medical cannabis for a list of twenty-one specific medical conditions maintained by the state’s medical board, though the board is permitted to add additional qualifying conditions as needed. All cannabis smoking remains prohibited in the state of Ohio, only allowing for medical products like oils, edibles, tinctures, patches, vapor, or other “plant matter form.”
Oklahoma - Since 2018, those with a “Medical Marijuana License” can consume cannabis and legally possess three ounces of marijuana outside the home (8 ounces inside), 6 mature plants, 6 immature plants, 1 ounce of concentrate, and 72 ounces of edibles. Without the license, OK residents are allowed to possess and use industrial hemp-derived CBD oil.
Pennsylvania - After last year’s 70-stop statewide listening tour, Gov. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman announced their intention to pursue decriminalization of possession, legislate the expunging of past cannabis-related criminal convictions, and debate legislating the legalization of recreational use. But, until then, the state does allow medical use (since 2016) for residents suffering from a list of specific conditions. Additionally, a wide variety of municipalities have decriminalized possession, with unique restrictions and fines for each area.
Puerto Rico - The territory of Puerto Rico has allowed medical marijuana since 2015, when Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed off on an executive order. While medical use is permitted, the act of smoking cannabis is still illegal.
Rhode Island - Medical use of marijuana, under specific regulations, has been allowed for RI residents since 2006. The state also created the US’s second-ever dispensary system in 2009, allowing three licensed medical dispensaries to grow and cultivate cannabis for their patients. Recreational use remains illegal, including possession of marijuana in any form.
US Virgin Islands - The Virgin Islands permitted medical use of marijuana in 2014 and decriminalized ownership of up to one ounce. However, recreational use remains illegal on the Islands.
Utah - The Utah Medical Cannabis Act passed through the Utah state legislature in 2018 - which included provisions binding the state to create medical dispensaries by January 2021. The Act allows qualifying residents to use topicals, oils, edibles, and vapor products - expanding 2014 legislation that allowed the use of CBD oil for medical needs.
West Virginia - While 2017’s Senate Bill 386 was set to go into effect in 2018, it wasn’t until July of 2019 that the state began issuing the required registration cards to patients, cultivators, and dispensaries. West Virginia’s SB 386 allows doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for specific conditions like MS, cancer, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, sickle-cell anemia, and more. Non-medical possession of cannabis remains a misdemeanor crime in WV.
CBD Oil Only
Alabama - The majority of cannabis products are still illegal in Alabama, but residents are permitted low-THC, CBD oil for medicinal use. Attempts in the state legislature to lower penalties for possession have failed to pass as recently as 2019, with the organization NORML (National Association for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) noting that possession of any amount of marijuana for personal use is still punishable with 1 year of jail time.
Georgia - Some cities in GA, including Atlanta and Savannah, have decriminalized weed, but the majority of the state still considers recreational use illegal. Medical use of CBD oil, containing less than 5% of THC, has been legalized for those with most cancers, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and several other specific conditions.
Indiana - Though Indiana is home to the First Church of Cannabis, residents of the state have been allowed to possess and sell CBD oil with less than 0.3% THC for any use since 2018. In 2019, Marion County decriminalised possession of one ounce of marijuana, but flower remains illegal in the majority of the state.
Iowa - Only medical CBD oil, with less than 0.3% THC, is permitted in the state of Iowa - and only for specific conditions like epilepsy, cancer, chronic pain, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s, Crohn's, and more. Possession of even minute amounts of marijuana remains a misdemeanor crime.
Kansas - In 2018, Governor Jeff Colyer signed a bill exempting CBD oil from Kansas’ definition of marijuana, generally legalizing CBD for all residents. But the bill did not address THC so, as most CBD poils still contain minute traces of THC, there is no legal system in place for KS residents to obtain said CBD oil. Possession of less than 15 ounces of cannabis flower is a misdemeanor punishable by 1 year of jail time and a maximum $2500 fine.
Kentucky - Nearly all industrial hemp produced in the United States came from Kentucky seeds, yet recreational marijuana remains criminalized in the state. Non-psychoactive CBD oil is legal in KY, but only for those undergoing limited trials run at the University of Kentucky. Kentucky’s recently elected Governor, Andy Beshear, has vowed to revisit medical marijuana policy in 2020, so hope remains for those in need.
Minnesota - Recreational use legislation was voted down as recently as 2019 in Minnesota, with the state’s government declining to even research the possibility of later legalization, but medical marijuana has been permitted in the state since 2014. Minnesota maintains a strict list of conditions that qualify, i.e. cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, Tourettes, MS, terminal illnesses, etc. Dried flower remains prohibited, with patients restricted to oils, pills, or vaporized forms of cannabis.
Mississippi - CBD oil has been allowed for medicinal uses since 2014, specifically for the treatment of severe seizures. Possession of small amounts was supposedly decriminalized in 1978, but remains a misdemeanor in practice, as arresting officers have discretion in pursuing charges.
North Carolina - Only those with intractable epilepsy are permitted the use of medical CBD oil, with all other uses and forms currently prohibited. Ownership of 1.5 ounces of less remains a misdemeanor in NC, though the state claims to be committed to wider decriminalization in the future.
South Carolina - In 2014, physician-prescribed CBD oil with less than 0.9% THC was legalized for cases of severe epilepsy, and industrial hemp was re-legalized in 2017, but wider medical and recreational use remains illegal in SC.
Tennessee - CBD oil with less than 0.9% THC is legal for patients with severe epilepsy, but state laws do not include a system for residents to legally purchase said oil. Some cities like Nashville and Memphis have attempted decriminalization of small amounts, but all attempts at weed reform have been halted until later this year.
Texas - Only less-than-0.5% THC CBD oil is permitted for medical use, and only for those with severe seizures. The state legislature is working to expand that permission to residents with other significant conditions, but changes have yet to pass. Otherwise, medical and recreational use is strictly prohibited.
Virginia - CBD or THC-A oil, with less than 5% THC, are legally allowed for medicinal use, but only if prescribed by a doctor. Attempts in the VA legislature to pass other decriminalization and legalization measures have failed repeatedly in committees.
Wisconsin - While things may be changing in WI relatively soon, due to a more permissive Governor, CBD oil remains the only legally allowed form of marijuana in the state - and only for medical use in the treatment of seizure-causing conditions.
Wyoming - Wyoming claims to allow medical CBD oil to treat seizures, but also has no system in place to allow legal sale of CBD products within the state. Additionally, the WY legislature actually worked to increase penalties for possession of marijuana, so progress could go backwards at any moment.
American Samoa - While American Samoa is one of the rare US territories where marijuana grows wild, cannabis consumption remains fully illegal. In fact, the American Samoan government has placed a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in jail, a $5000 fine, or BOTH.
Idaho - No form of possession or consumption of marijuana is legal in the state of Idaho. Possession of more than three ounces remains a felony.
Nebraska - Possession of less than one pound is a misdemeanor in Nebraska, rather than a felony, but recreational and medical use remains illegal in the state.
South Dakota - Cannabis remains illegal in all forms in SD. Possession of more than 2 ounces is a felony, but you might get away with a misdemeanor with less.
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