As the US looks straight at a pro-weed wave with 10 more states likely to legalize it this year, let’s go over each state’s marijuana laws. Here’s a 2018 legal weed guide from Inverse.
In the eyes of the feds, marijuana is most definitely still illegal, even as an increasing number of states have legalized the Schedule 1 drug. When California voters legalized medical pot way back in 1996, it seemed so culturally disruptive that few in the mainstream would expect America would looking straight at a pro-weed wave 22 years later.
“I think it’s going to mess up the world,” said Pete Sisco, 36, a construction worker from Marina del Rey, California, told the LA Times then. “Little kids are going to start smoking it and say they’ve got a medical problem. And if you’ve got a medical problem, what are you going to do, start smoking it in a restaurant?”
There’s a little truth to that early prediction, but it’s challenging to see how pot has messed up the world. In fact, a majority of the country no longer fears an epidemic of reefer madness — according to a Pew survey conducted in January, 61 percent of Americans favor legalization. So, while marijuana opinions still skew around party lines, there are five politicians with pro-pot platforms in the 2018 midterms and ten states could have motions to legalize this year.
When Recreational Marijuana was Legalized in Each State:
Colorado (2012), Washington (2012), Alaska (2015), Oregon (2015), Maine (2016), Massachusetts (2016), Nevada (2016), California (2016), Vermont (2018).
☝ In the above states, medical marijuana had already been legalized. ☝
When Medical Marijuana was Legalized in Each State:
Montana (2004), Rhode Island (2006), New Mexico (2007), Maryland (2008), Michigan (2008), New Jersey (2010), Arizona (2011), Delaware (2011), Connecticut (2012), Illinois (2013), New Hampshire (2013), Minnesota (2014), New York (2014), Pennsylvania (2014), Ohio (2016), Florida (2016), Arkansas (2016), North Dakota (2016), West Virginia (2017).
There are three fundamental stances on weed: legalized for recreational and medical use, legalized for only medical use, and completely prohibited, in line with federal policy. Some medical marijuana states only allow marijuana oils that are high in cannabidiol (CBD for short), the therapeutic ingredient in weed, and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), its psychoactive element. The rest allow the possession and with a medical marijuana license.
Below’s a state-by-state guide to marijuana laws in the United States:
Alabama passed a medical marijuana provision in 2014, but it is limited to CBD products. This means that medical marijuana patients can procure cannabis products with a doctor’s recommendation, but only low-THC, high-CBD strains are allowed. Only people diagnosed with severe epilepsy are eligible for medical marijuana.
The Alabama state legislature is currently considering a decriminalization billthat would change the penalty for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor with potential for jail time to a non-criminal violation with a maximum $250 fine. Some marijuana activists, however, are against the legislation because it also reclassifies possession of more than ounce of marijuana as a felony, not a misdemeanor.
There are no other legalization efforts alive in the state legislature, and no marijuana-related ballot measures for the 2018 election.
Alaska enacted recreational marijuana legislation in 2015 after a successful voter referendum. Under the legislation, Alaska residents over the age of 21 can possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants for personal use.
Now, Alaska is focused on fortifying the marijuana industry and giving redress for past convictions. One bill that would seal some past marijuana possession convictions was passed in the House of Representatives and is awaiting a Senate vote. Another pending bill would establish a state bank for marijuana businesses. Because marijuana is federally prohibited, most banks won’t offer loans to marijuana businesses.
Alaska is also considering legislation to become a “sanctuary state” for marijuana vendors. If the law is passed, the state would be barred from using state funds and property to enforce federal marijuana laws. The bill has been sitting in committee since January 24, 2018.
Arizona passed a medical marijuana provision in 2011. Under Arizona’s legislation, patients with a wide variety of conditions can procure medical marijuana from a dispensary with a doctor’s recommendation. Patients can possess a 2.5 ounces of marijuana, and are permitted to cultivate up to 12 plants if they live more than 25 miles away from a dispensary.
Three different marijuana-related bills fizzled out in committee in the state legislature in early 2018. The first proposed decriminalizing marijuana possession, the second sought to make Arizona a marijuana “sanctuary state” (like Alaska’s pending legislation), and the third was a motion to put marijuana legalization up for a voter referendum in the 2018 November election.
Three marijuana-related initiatives could still end up on the ballot this November. One measure would expand Arizona’s medical marijuana program, while the other two would legalize it for recreational use. Initiative supporters must submit up to 226,000 valid signatures by July 5, 2018 in order to quality for the ballot.
Arkansas passed a medical marijuana provision in 2016. Under Arkansas legislation, patients with a variety of conditions can get medical marijuana from a dispensary with a doctor’s note. However, no dispensaries have opened in Arkansas as of April 2018, and the legislation stipulates that patients may only obtain weed from Arkansas dispensaries, so the law doesn’t mean squat right now.
Arkansas ended up this quagmire because a judge ruled that the state’s Medical Marijuana Commission didn’t evaluate all applications fairly when it granted five licenses to cultivate marijuana to Arkansas businesses. The state needs to restart the application process, but it’s unclear how soon that will happen.
There are no marijuana bills in the state legislature, and no marijuana-related ballot measures for the 2018 election.
California enacted recreational marijuana legislation in 2016 after a voter referendum. Under the legislation, California residents 21 and older can possess up to an ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants for personal use. California’s law also gives redress for marijuana-related convictions — people can petition to have some marijuana charges expunged from their criminal records. Recreational weed shops opened on January 1, 2018.
Now, California is working to shore up the marijuana industry’s infrastructure and give redress for past convictions. One bill in committee would help banks legally work with marijuana businesses, and another piece of legislation (also in committee) would automatically expunge past marijuana charges that are no longer considered a crime. If the latter bill passes, people wouldn’t need to petition to have past marijuana charges removed from their criminal records.
In January 2018, a California lawmaker said he would revive a bill to declare California a marijuana “sanctuary state.” If the law is passed, the state would be barred from using state funds and property to enforce federal marijuana laws. However, the bill fizzled out in 2017, and has of April 2018 it hasn’t been reintroduced.
In Colorado, weed is now regulated like alcohol, thanks to Amendment 64, passed in 2012. This was the latest step in a legalization effort that began before the turn of the millennium.
In Colorado, people over the age of 21 may possess up to an ounce of marijuana, and there is a bustling market for the purchase and sale of cannabis products. Residents may cultivate up to six plants, but only three may be mature at any time. Public use is prohibited, making Colorado’s marijuana regulations very similar to alcohol regulations in many states.
Colorado legalized medical marijuana via Amendment 20 in November 2000, but it faced several legal challenges from state authorities pressured by the federal government.
Connecticut passed a medical marijuana provision in 2012. Under Connecticut’s legislation, patients with a wide variety of conditions can procure medical marijuana from a dispensary with a doctor’s recommendation. Patients can possess a month’s supply of pot — seemingly a subjective designation — at one time.
Connecticut is also one of 13 states that has decriminalized marijuana to some degree. In states that have decriminalized, marijuana is still prohibited, but getting busted with a small amount of weed will typically result in a slap on the wrist instead of a criminal conviction. Decriminalization allows states to prosecute marijuana dealers and traffickers without imposing criminal penalties on the consumer.
There is active legislation in Connecticut’s House of Representatives that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. The bill passed through committee on April 5, and is now awaiting a call to the floor and subsequent vote.
Delaware passed a medical marijuana provision in 2011. Under Delaware’s legislation, patients with a variety of conditions can procure medical marijuana from a dispensary with a doctor’s recommendation. Patients can possess up to six ounces of marijuana at one time. Delaware is also one of 13 states that has decriminalized marijuana to some degree.
Delaware is considering legislation to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The bill passed through committee in 2017, but was put to the side as a marijuana task force examined the issue. The task force released its report in March, and lawmakers could bring the legalization bill back to the floor for consideration at any time.
Florida passed a medical marijuana provision in 2016. Under Florida’s legislation, patients with a variety of conditions can procure medical marijuana from a dispensary with a doctor’s recommendation. Patients can only obtain flower from a dispensary for vaping — smoking is prohibited.
Efforts to decriminalize marijuana possession failed after a decriminalization billwasn’t passed through a committee vote.
Two different attempts to put legal recreational marijuana up for a voter referendum in November 2018 were abandoned, so there are no weed-related initiatives on the upcoming ballot.
Georgia passed a medical marijuana provision in 2015, but it is limited to CBD products. This means that medical marijuana patients can procure cannabis products with a doctor’s recommendation, but only low-THC, high-CBD strains are allowed. Only people diagnosed with intractable epilepsy are eligible for medical marijuana.
Efforts to decriminalize and legalize marijuana both stalled out in the state legislature in early 2018. However, a bill to expand access to medical marijuana was passed in March and is awaiting gubernatorial approval.
There are no marijuana-related initiatives on the ballot for the November 2018 election.