This year in the 2020 US election there were many winners and losers across the fifty states, but there was no greater winner this year than marijuana where five states officially legalized the substance. Bringing up the total to thirty-six different states where marijuana is, in some form, legal; either only for medical use or for both medical and recreational use.
States are legalizing marijuana at an astonishing rate despite the drug still being illegal at the federal level, where the federal government classifies the drug as Schedule I, meaning that it’s considered to have no currently acceptable medical use along with a high potential for abuse. This puts cannabis in the company of other infamous drugs such as heroin and MDMA under the Controlled Substances ACT (CSA).
The FDA has approved its use on the national level for two forms of epilepsy, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, but has not changed its scheduling otherwise. This is in spite of cannabis’ use in treating a number of conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, mental health, glaucoma, and many more. Researchers are studying whether medical marijuana can have an impact on other health conditions, but due to the drug’s scheduling, they must apply for a special license in order to perform their research, as it currently is considered to be entirely lacking in medical value as well as being likely to be abused.
Due to the extra restrictions and bureaucracy imposed on research, the benefits, dangers, and side effects of marijuana are less extensively studied than other drugs, though this may change in the future with new legalization passing.
Today, marijuana is completely illegal in fourteen different states—whether it be for medical or recreational, and whether it is being transported or in possession.
The day after November 6, 2012, the question of where is weed legal in the US was an extremely easy question to answer–Colorado. The Centennial state was the first in the union to legalize recreational cannabis.
On Nov. 6, 2012, Amendment 64 passed by approximately 55 percent and announced that anyone over 21, possessing a valid government license, was allowed to purchase, possess, and smoke marijuana with the ability to buy up to one ounce per transaction. Since that day, Colorado (and other states) have passed additional legislation concerning cannabis legality to ease or impose restrictions, and other states have followed suit in declaring marijuana to be legal for recreational or medical use.
Where Is Weed Legal in The World?
Zooming out of the United States, there are a few countries that have legalized marijuana. The first and most prominent of which is the US’ close neighbor Canada. Unlike the United States, Canada has legalized cannabis on the national level under the federal Cannabis Act in October 2018. This means that in the entire country, recreational use of cannabis would no longer be a violation of criminal law and was subsequently removed from their Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. In Canada, online sales of cannabis and delivery are both legal and there are cannabis stores operated both in the private sector and by the government. Outside of North America, Uruguay has also legalized cannabis in all forms, being the only South American country to do so. South Africa presents itself as Uruguay’s African counterpart, being the only country on the African continent to also legalize the drug for both medical and recreational use. Over to the Northeast, Georgia has also completely legalized weed, making it the only country in either Europe or Asia to do. Interestingly enough, even though Georgia the country has legalized cannabis, Georgia, the state in the U.S, has not legalized the drug recreationally, though low THC oil is allowed for certain qualified people. Last but certainly not least, North Korea doesn’t necessarily have legal weed, but there are no official statements from the country that states whether or not the drug is legal. Some independent correspondents have stated that the drug is legal in every capacity in the country, though this claim is disputed.
Where Is Weed Legal in The U.S?
In the U.S, recreational marijuana is slowly but surely making its way through the states by way of legislation on a state-by-state basis. Currently, there are 15 states where weed is completely legal and treated as a commodity similar to alcohol, though there is some variance with each state’s laws regarding actions such as purchasing, possession, transportation, and consumption. In each of these states with legalized recreational weed medical marijuana is also legal. These states are:
A list of States Where Weed Is Legal
Alaska – The last frontier was one of the first states to legalize weed. Through Measure 2 on Nov. 4, 2014, the largest state legalized medical and recreational marijuana. The state government only permits up to 1 oz. of marijuana to be transported, and cultivation is limited to twelve plants in a two (adult) person household, though there is no limit with a commercial license.
Arizona – While medical marijuana was legalized through Proposition 203 in 2010, recreational use wasn’t legalized until 2013 through Proposition 207 in the recent 2020 election. Similar to Alaska, Arizona only allows up to 1 oz. of marijuana during transportation and only allows six plants in a household, though this maximum increases to 12 with two or more adults in a household.
California – California was the earliest state in the US to legalize medical marijuana in 1996 but interestingly was not as quick to pass legalization to legalize recreational marijuana. Proposition 64, the bill that legalized sale and distribution, only passed in November 2016 in a 57 to 43 vote, and did not come into effect until New Year’s in 2018. California follows the trend of 1 oz. of marijuana allowed for transportation and only allows six plants to be cultivated, regardless of household size.
Colorado – The first state for legal retail sales and thus becoming the first state to boast of a legal recreational marijuana sale on Jan. 1st, 2014. Colorado mirrors California’s restrictions on marijuana, allowing up to 1 oz. for transportation and six plants for personal cultivated use, though this restriction is lifted with a commercial license.
Illinois – On August 1st, 2013, Pat Quinn, then governor of Illinois, signed a bill legalizing marijuana for medical use. Approximately five years later the General Assembly passed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana, which came into effect on New Year’s 2020. Illinois was the first state in the nation that legalized marijuana sales through state legislature instead of the more traditional means. Illinois breaks the previous trend of limits on transportation and allows up to 1.1 oz. of marijuana to be carried. The state’s restrictions on cultivation are much harsher than the first four states mentioned, allowing only five plants per household and only for medical use. With a commercial license, however, the previous restrictions are lifted.
Maine – Medical cannabis in Maine was legalized back in 1999, and seventeen years later recreational cannabis followed suit. Maine allows a whopping 2.5 oz. to be legally carried during transportation and has more complex rules than usual for cultivation. Maine allows up to three mature plants per household, twelve immature plants, and has no regulatory limit on the number of seedlings per household.
Massachusetts – The question of legal medical cannabis was answered in 2012 when Question 3, legalizing medical marijuana, passed by 60% in 2012. Four years later in 2016, the question of recreational marijuana was similarly answered when Question 4 passed by 54%. Massachusetts allows transportation for both medical and recreational marijuana but does not clearly state its limit on the amount. The state also interestingly differentiates cultivation based on the location of such activities – allowing 2.5 oz. of marijuana to be grown as long as it’s grown outside of the household, and allows 10 oz. of marijuana in addition to six plants, provided that it’s all grown inside the household.
Michigan – In 2008 Michigan voted to legalize medical cannabis, though the city of Ann Arbor specifically already had extremely lax marijuana laws in effect since 1974. Interestingly enough, even though the municipal laws were lenient towards marijuana infractions, State laws were not, and thus cannabis laws were far stricter in the city when one was University of Michigan property. Exactly a decade later, the state legalized recreational cannabis as well in 2018. Michigan does not specify maximum weights for transportation, though it does for cultivation. Following the footsteps of Massachusetts, it also differentiates between marijuana grown inside and outside the household. 2.5 oz. of marijuana is allowed outside the home, and an additional 10 oz. with 12 plants is allowed inside a household.
Montana – Legalized recently in 2020 through Initiative 190, cannabis, both recreational and medical, were legalized. Transportation and cultivation are both legal in the state, though the details are not yet clearly stated on how much is allowed during transportation, or how many plants are allowed to be cultivated per household.
Nevada – Following a 65% vote on Question 9 in 2000, medical marijuana became legal for all Nevada citizens and residents. Recreational marijuana passed by a slightly slimmer margin in 2016, only gathering 54% of the vote. Nevada does not specify maximums for transportation, and interestingly only allows home cultivation if the said home is located at least 25 miles away from the nearest cannabis store, in addition to more standard restrictions of being 21 and a limit of 6 plants per household.
New Jersey – Following a statewide referendum, Question 1 legalized recreational weed. The referendum also allowed New Jersey’s medical marijuana dispensaries to be selling to the general public after the government implements regulations, giving New Jersey a leg up on other states in getting sales up and running. Due to the recency of the legalization, transportation and cultivation regulations are not yet in place, though they are technically legal.
Oregon – Despite being the first state to decriminalize cannabis back in 1973, Oregon did not allow recreational marijuana to be sold until 2014. Oregon only allows up to 1 oz of marijuana to be transported, though this limit is increased for licensed cultivators, and has a strict limit of four plants per household.
South Dakota – South Dakota recently passed two ballot measures allowing recreational weed to be sold, but also for establishing a medical marijuana program. Even though legislation has passed allowing the sale of marijuana, the amendment does not take effect until July 1, 2021, and could take even longer due to licensing issues for dispensaries. South Dakota also will not allow cultivation if there is a dispensary located within a person’s district.
Vermont – While medical marijuana was legalized in 2004, and further expanded in 2007, recreational cannabis was not legalized until 2018 when HB511 passed. The bill legalized the recreational use of marijuana for up to 1 oz (or two mature plants). Transportation within the state is legal, but the maximum amount allowed for carrying is unspecified. Cultivation of marijuana is also legal for personal use, though interestingly does not allow for commercial cultivation. For personal use, the state imposes a maximum of two mature plants and four immature plants per household and does not specify a maximum for seedlings.
Washington – The first state to legalize recreational marijuana on December 6, 2012, beating out Colorado by a mere four days, the Evergreen state permits anyone over 21 to transport or carry up to 1 oz of marijuana. Home cultivation is still illegal in the state unless the cannabis is for medical use or with commercial licensing.
In addition to these 15 states, Washington D.C also legalized cannabis for both recreational and medical use but does not allow any commercial sales.
States Where Medical Marijuana Is Legal
Several more states have legalized and allowed for marijuana to be used medically, but still do not allow recreational use. They are as follows:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
In addition, Nebraska and North Carolina have decriminalized marijuana, lowering penalties for first-time possession and a small amount of marijuana.
States Where Weed Is Completely Illegal
That leaves 12 states in which marijuana is not permitted for use, medical or not, with the exception of Idaho, which allows for CBD products that contain a trace amount of THC to be used for medical purposes.
- South Carolina
You knew it was coming, the text in this article is informational only and not intended to be legal or medical advice or recommendations in any way. Use this information as you will with your own discretion. The bottom line is – be safe, follow the rules, and enjoy some Mary Jane while you are in the Bicentennial State for your Rocky Mountain High!