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16.01.20

US States Where Cannabis is Legal

by The Cannigma Team
2604 Words
AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY DC

Although cannabis remains a schedule I drug under federal law, as of the start of 2020, 33 states — and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico — have medical marijuana programs, giving legal access to two-thirds of Americans. Eleven of those states and DC also have adult-use cannabis laws on the books.


Alaska

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Legal
  • Reciprocity: No

Like the North Star, Alaska has been at the forefront of marijuana legalization for over two decades. The state legalized medical marijuana in 1998 and since 2015, it has been legal to possess and sell cannabis in the state. The state opened its first recreational dispensary in 2016, and in 2019, became the first state to license marijuana consumption on-site at dispensaries. State law also allows the cultivation of up to 25 plants within a private residence. 

Arizona

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Reciprocity: No

Arizona voters approved medical marijuana legalization in 2010 and the state’s first medical dispensaries opened in 2012. Recreational marijuana is not legal in the state and possession of any amount can be charged as a felony. Cultivation is illegal in Arizona but patients who live at least 25 miles from a dispensary can apply for a permit to grow their own.  

Read more.

Arkansas

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Reciprocity: Yes

Arkansas voters approved medical marijuana in 2016 and the first dispensary in the state opened its doors in 2019. Recreational marijuana is not legal in the state, and even a first offense possession of any amount of cannabis or paraphernalia can result in incarceration. Cultivation is not legal.

Read more.

California

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Legal
  • Reciprocity: No

The Golden State was the first to go green – when it comes to medical marijuana. In 1996, the state passed Proposition 215, the “Compassionate Use Act of 1996.” There are currently more than 106,000 registered patients according to the California Department of Public Health, and they are legally allowed to possess up to 8 ounces of marijuana each and maintain up to 6 mature plants. The sale of recreational marijuana was approved by California voters in 2016, and can be purchased in hundreds of licensed retail shops across the state.

Read more.

Colorado

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Legal
  • Reciprocity: No

Along with Washington, Colorado was one of the first two states to legalize recreational cannabis, with the passing of Amendment 64 in 2012. The state legalized medical marijuana back in 2000, and reportedly there are more (recreational and medicinal) dispensaries operating in the state than there are McDonald’s and Starbucks chains combined. It is also legal to privately grow up to six marijuana plants in the state. 

Connecticut

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Decriminalized
  • Reciprocity: No

In 2016, Connecticut passed a general statute that made possession of less than a half ounce of cannabis or a “cannabis-type substance” subject to a fine of $150 and $250-$500 for a subsequent offense. Neither include the possibility of incarceration. The state legalized medical cannabis in 2012, and the first dispensary opened in 2014. Cultivation of any amount is still subject to stiff penalties including up to seven years incarceration. 

Read more.

Delaware

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Decriminalized
  • Reciprocity: No

In 2015, Delaware Governor John Carney signed a bill that decriminalized marijuana for adults and minors, making possession of up to one ounce a civil penalty. The state’s general assembly  legalized medical marijuana in 2011 and the first dispensary opened in 2015. Delaware does not allow recreational marijuana sales, but in June 2019 a bill to legalize recreational marijuana sales cleared its first legislative hurdle. The state does not allow personal cultivation of marijuana. 

Read more.

District of Columbia

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Legal
  • Reciprocity: Yes

The Washington, DC council voted unanimously to approve medical marijuana in the District in 2010 and the first local dispensaries opened in 2013. In 2014, DC Initiative 71 legalized possession of up to two ounces of marijuana and cultivation of up to six marijuana plants for recreational use. The sale of recreational marijuana remains illegal in the District as of January 2020. 

Florida

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Reciprocity: No

Florida voters approved medical marijuana legalization in 2016 and the first licensed dispensary opened later that year. Recreational marijuana is still illegal and possession of any amount can result in a criminal charge. Possession of any amount of hashish or concentrates is considered a felony. The personal cultivation of marijuana is illegal in the Sunshine State. 

Hawaii

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Decriminalized
  • Reciprocity: Yes

In 2019, Hawaii became the 26th state to legalize or decriminalize marijuana. As of January 2020, when the new law went into effect, possession of up to three grams is punishable by a fine of up to $130. Hawaii legalized medical marijuana back in 2000, but the state’s first medical dispensary did not open until 2017. Patients are allowed to be in possession of up to four ounces of marijuana at any given time, and can cultivate up to seven marijuana plants. 

Illinois

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Legal
  • Reciprocity: No

Illinois was the first state where recreational marijuana sales were legalized by the state legislature and not a ballot initiative. The first dispensaries opened in January 2020, and reported some $3.2 million in sales on the first day of operations. The state legalized medical cannabis in 2013, and allows the cultivation of up to five plants for medical patients. For non-medical patients, cultivating up to five plants is considered a violation and subject to a $200 fine. 

Read more.

Louisiana

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Reciprocity: No

Louisiana approved medical marjuana in 2016 and the state’s first licensed dispensary opened in Baton Rouge in 2019, with only tinctures available for purchase. As of now the only forms of cannabis approved for purchase are oils, extracts, tinctures, sprays, capsules, pills, solutions, suspension, gelatin-based chewables, lotions, transdermal patches, suppositories, and metered-dose inhalation. There are currently nine approved dispensaries in the state for medical patients. Possession of any amount of marijuana for recreational use remains illegal in the state, as does any amount of cultivation. 

Maine

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Legal
  • Reciprocity: Yes

Maine legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2016, but there are currently no legal retail stores open in the state — the first ones are expected to open in 2020. In the meantime, it is legal to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to three marijuana plants. The state legalized medical marijuana in 1999, but only put in place a system for dispensaries in 2009.  

Maryland

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Decriminalized
  • Reciprocity: No

In 2014, Maryland decriminalized possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, and in 2019, the state’s court of appeals ruled that the scent of marijuana does not give police probable cause to search and arrest someone. Maryland approved medical cannabis use in 2014, and the state’s first medical dispensary was licensed in 2017. Growing marijuana in any quantity is illegal in Maryland. 

Massachusetts

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Legal
  • Reciprocity: No

Massachusetts legalized recreational marijuana in 2016 and the first recreational dispensaries opened in the state in 2018. There are currently dozens of recreational dispensaries open in the state, and hundreds of licenses for new stores are awaiting approval. The state approved medical marijuana in 2013 and honors medical licenses from other states. Massachusetts state law allows adults to grow up to 12 plants if they are not publicly visible. 

Michigan

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Legal
  • Reciprocity: Yes

The first dispensaries opened in Michigan in December 2019, a year after voters approved a ballot measure to legalize recreational cannabis. Over a decade earlier, in 2008, the state approved medical marijuana and in 2018 added 11 new qualifying conditions including chronic pain, autism, and inflammatory bowel disease. The state also honors out-of-state medical marijuana licenses, and allows adults to privately grow up to 12 marijuana plants.

Read more.

Minnesota

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Decriminalized
  • Reciprocity: No

Minnesota first decriminalized possession of marijuana for personal use in the 1970s. Recreational marijuana sales are not legal in the state, however. The state legalized marijuana for medical use in 2014, and as of today there are eight cannabis patient centers across the state — but they are only allowed to sell cannabis pills, oil, liquids, and topical solutions. Cannabis flowers and edibles are not allowed. Cultivation is not legal in Minnesota and it is prosecuted as possession (based on the aggregate weight of the plants found).    

Missouri

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Decriminalized
  • Reciprocity: No

Missouri voters approved a medical marijuana program in 2018 but the state has yet to set up a dispensary system for distribution. In 2019, the state approved legislation to make possession of less than 36 grams a class D misdemeanor, punishable by a fine. The state allows the home cultivation of up to six plants for patients and caregivers with a special permit.

Montana

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Reciprocity: No

Montana voters approved medical marijuana in 2004 and the state’s first dispensaries opened soon after. The program boomed initially but was plagued by law enforcement raids and public opposition in the years that followed. Legal storefronts still service medical patients in the state, who are also legally allowed to grow up to four mature plants. Recreational marijuana is illegal in Montana, but in January 2020, two separate legalization proposals were submitted to the secretary of state by a Montana-based political committee and other groups are working to advance similar proposals.

Nevada

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Legal
  • Reciprocity: Yes

Nevada approved marijuana for recreational use in 2016 and the state’s first dispensary opened in the summer of 2017. Nevada voters approved the legalization of medical marijuana back in 2000, but it wasn’t until 2015 that the first medical dispensary opened its doors in the state. Nevada is also notable for a state law that prevents employers from rejecting job applicants based on pre-employment marjuana tests. Medical patients are allowed to grow up to 12 plants. 

New Hampshire

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Decriminalized
  • Reciprocity: Yes

As of 2017, possession of three-quarters of an ounce or less marijuana flower or five grams or less hash or concentrates became only a violation and not a criminal offense in the Granite State. Medical marijuana became legal in New Hampshire in 2013, and there is a network of medical dispensaries across the state. Cultivation is illegal in New Hampshire. 

New Jersey

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Reciprocity: Yes

New Jersey legalized medical marijuana in 2010 and the state’s first medical dispensaries opened in 2012. In 2019, state legislators passed an expansion bill to ease registration for patients and make the program “a national model” for other states considering medical cannabis, according to one New Jersey legislator. Recreational marijuana is not legal in New Jersey, nor is personal cultivation.  

New Mexico

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Decriminalized
  • Reciprocity: Yes

New Mexico has had a medical marijuana program since 2007, and there are currently dozens of licensed dispensaries across the state. The Land of Enchantment decriminalized possession of up to a half ounce of marijuana in 2019. The state does not allow personal cultivation. In January 2020, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said that she wants the legislature to enact a bill “legalizing the use of recreational cannabis in New Mexico.” 

New York 

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Decriminalized
  • Reciprocity: No

New York decriminalized possession of up to two ounces of marijuana in 2019, and it now is punishable by a fine of $50-$200. Over 160,000 people with prior convictions in the state will have their records expunged, according to a 2019 report. New York approved medical marijuana in 2014, and today there are nearly 100,000 approved patients served by the state’s licensed dispensaries. Personal cultivation is not legal in New York. And though recreational marijuana is not currently legal in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo vowed to legalize the plant in 2020

Read more.

North Dakota

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Decriminalized
  • Reciprocity: No

North Dakota decriminalized marijuana in 2019 and possession of up to a half ounce is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. Voters approved medical marijuana in 2017, but the first dispensary only opened in 2019. Cultivation is illegal and punishable according to the aggregate weight of the plants. 

Ohio

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Decriminalized
  • Reciprocity: No

A patchwork of cities in Ohio have decriminalized marijuana possession, though it is not decriminalized on a state-wide basis. Ohio voters approved medical marijuana in 2016, but the state’s first dispensary only opened in 2019. Smoking marijuana is not approved under the state’s medical marijuana law, but flowers are sold for use in vaporizers. Edibles, tinctures, and topical solutions are also available. Personal cultivation is illegal in Ohio. 

Read more.

Oklahoma

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Reciprocity: No

Oklahoma voters approved a medical marijuana initiative in 2018, allowing dispensaries to sell to approved patients. Patients are not limited to a set list of medical conditions and are allowed to cultivate up to six mature plants. The state’s first dispensaries opened in 2018 and as of 2019, the state was considered “the fastest growing marijuana market in the country.” Recreational marijuana remains illegal in the state, but in 2018, the Oklahoma City council approved an ordinance to reduce the penalties for simple possession to a fine. 

Oregon

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Legal
  • Reciprocity: Yes

Oregon was one of the first states to approve medical marijuana, which was passed by ballot measure in 1998. The state legalized recreational cannabis in 2014, and the the first dispensaries opened in 2015. The state has one of the highest saturations of legal cannabis stores in the country, and in 2017, legal cannabis sales topped $520 million. In Oregon, residents are allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants inside a private residence.

Pennsylvania

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Reciprocity: No

Politicians in the Keystone State approved a medical marijuana bill in 2016, and the commonwealth’s first dispensaries opened in 2018. In late 2019, reports indicated shortages at the more than 60 dispensaries in the state. Recreational marijuana is illegal in Pennsylvania, though several municipalities have passed ordinances to decriminalize possession. 

Puerto Rico

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Reciprocity: Yes

Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Padilla approved medical marijuana by executive order in 2015 and the first dispensaries opened on the island in 2017. Boricuas are legally allowed to buy marijuana for vaporizers or inhalers or in the form of creams, drops, and pills, but smoking cannabis is still illegal. The island also maintains quite stiff penalties for recreational marijuana, and possession of any amount is considered a felony.

Rhode Island

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Decriminalized
  • Reciprocity: Yes

Medical marijuana was legalized in Rhode Island upon passing of three separate state bills in 2006. As of January 2020, there were three legal dispensaries in operation in the state, and state officials have approved six more. Recreational marijuana is not legal in the Ocean State, but possession of less than 1 ounce is considered a civil violation and merits a maximum fine of $150.

Read more.

Utah

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Decriminalized

Utah voters approved the Utah Medical Cannabis Act in 2018, and the state’s first dispensaries (referred to as “pharmacies” in Utah) are expected to open in 2020. Personal cultivation is not allowed in Utah, and possession of any amount of marijuana for recreational use remains illegal. 

Vermont

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Legal
  • Reciprocity: No

The Green Mountain State legalized medical cannabis in 2004 and there is currently a network of medical dispensaries open in the state, mainly in the Burlington area. In 2018, the legislature legalized marijuana for recreational use, but it is still illegal to sell cannabis and the state does not have any legal recreational dispensaries. Vermont allows residents to cultivate up to two plants with no penalty. 

Washington

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Legal
  • Reciprocity: No

The Evergreen State joined Colorado as one the first two states to legalize marijuana for recreational use, with the passing of Initiative 502 in 2012. Washington was also an early adopter of medical marijuana, and passed legalization in 1998. The first recreational dispensaries opened in 2014, and since then they have racked up more than $1 billion in sales. The state also allows medical cannabis recipients to grow up to 12 plants. 

West Virginia

  • Medical: Yes
  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Reciprocity: No

In 2017, Governor Jim Justice signed into law a medical marijuana act, allowing patients to possess a “30-day supply” of cannabis products, including pills, oil, topical solutions, and vapes. Smoking is not an approved method of consumption under the bill, but vaporization and nebulization are allowed. The bill also does not allow personal cultivation. The state began accepting applications for dispensaries in December, 2019.

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