Here Are All the States That Have Legalized Weed in the U.S.

Weed is so normalized in America that it’s hardly cool anymore. Once Martha Stewart, Elon Musk, and your aunt—not even the eccentric one—started talking about marijuana like it was ibuprofen, it felt like it lost its gloried grunge. Long gone are the days of dirty bongs, replaced by high-tech vaporizers and edibles ranging from extravagant chocolate candies to curated, catered dining experiences. Oh, and hundred-thousand-dollar bongs that are coveted like art, because they are art. Brewers are dabbling in non-alcoholic THC beers, and the country’s first-ever weed restaurant, where you can smoke and dine in public without feeling anything more than your regular dose of paranoia, opened in West Hollywood.

Weed has a golden cloud around it, where traditional fears have been replaced by excitement, at least on the grand scale. (If you want to know where all that pent-up reefer madness went, take a look at our national nicotine vape situation.)

Obviously, legalization has a lot to do with that. In the U.S., recreational marijuana legalization is slowly eking out victories on a state-by-state basis. In the 2016 election, which was bad for most reasons but good for this one, four states got on board, raising the total to eight states to legalize since Colorado kicked off the trend in 2012. Illinois became the eleventh and most recent state in America to legalize weed, with lines snaking along blocks for hours on day one, which was the first day of the new year.

At this point, it’s hardly a surprise that yet another state has decided to make itself a haven for marijuana users (as well as businesses tapping into the lucrative marijuana market). If you’re keen on placing bets, then look to Arizona, New York, New Jersey, and New Mexico as the states most likely to pass legalization efforts in 2020.

Marijauna rally outside New York Governor's office in...

A marijuana advocate at a rally for legalization in New York.

Pacific PressGetty Images

But as states legalize and business booms, as celebrities enjoy marijuana goodies in their Oscars swag bags and influencers suck on vape pens at Coachella, marijuana has led to vast inequality in America. Historically, law enforcement grossly targeted minority people, even though white people statistically use marijuana at the same rate. While cannabis brands blossom on social media, people still sit in prison for nonviolent drug offenses. Expungement of criminal records and cannabis business practices that protect the communities most ripped apart by the War on Drugs are necessary, and must go hand in hand with legalization in the states. Or, at the federal level.

While he was in his Attorney General post, Jeff Sessions—Remember him? The flaming racist who thinks “good people don’t smoke marijuana?”—rescinded an Obama-era memo that protected states where marijuana was legal from most federal prosecution. But more and more politicians on both sides of the aisle are at least trying to give states the right to decide for themselves. In spring 2019, prominent members of Congress introduced the bipartisan Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act, which would protect states’ rights to determine their own marijuana laws without federal interference.

President Trump generally has respected the rights of states to decide for themselves, and he voiced his support for a bipartisan Congressional effort to protect state legislation. (He does, however, think marijuana makes people “lose IQ points,” a fact we present without comment.) Nothing big has happened in Washington recently, but politicians continue to debate cannabis at a low-level hum, which is an improvement, relatively speaking.

By the way, Canada officially legalized weed throughout the entire damn country in 2018. Aren’t they just so lucky.

Who knows? Maybe one day our federal government will get it together. Nearly every single Democrat trying to get the party’s blessing to go up against Trump is in favor of federal legalization. Until then, here are the 11 states plus the District of Columbia where it’s legal to buy and consume recreational marijuana, as well as the 33 states plus D.C. that have approved medical marijuana.


The 11 States (plus D.C.) with Legal Recreational Weed

These are the 11 states, plus Washington, D.C., that have legalized recreational weed—and medical marijuana, as well. Laws about possession, distribution, personal cultivation, and concentrates differ across state lines. NORML, a nonprofit group that advocates for marijuana reform, has a more detailed, state-by-state rundown.

Alaska

• It is legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana.
• It is legal for adults 21 and over to grow up to six marijuana plants per household, but no more than three can be mature and flowering at a time.

California

• It is legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana.
• It is legal for adults 21 and over to grow up to six marijuana plants per household.

Colorado

• It is legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana.
• It is legal for adults 21 and over to grow up to six plants per household, but no more than three can be mature at a time.

District of Columbia

• It is legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to two ounces of marijuana.
• It is legal for adults 21 and over to grow up to six plants per household, but no more than three can be mature at a time.

Illinois

• It is legal for Illinois residents 21 and over to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana (roughly 1.06 ounces). Non-Illinois residents 21 and over can only possess 15 grams of marijuana (roughly half an ounce).
• It is legal for registered medical marijuana patients to grow up to five plants per household that are five inches or taller.

Maine

• It is legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana.
• It is legal for adults 21 and over to have up to three flowering plants and 12 immature plants growing per household.

Massachusetts

• It is legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana outside the home, and up to 10 ounces of marijuana inside the home.
• It is legal for adults 21 and over to grow up to six plants per household.

Michigan

• It is legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana outside the home, and up to 10 ounces of marijuana inside the home.
• It is legal for adults 21 and over to grow up to 12 plants per household.

Nevada

• It is legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana.
• It is legal for adults 21 and over to grow up to six plants per household.

Oregon

• It is legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana outside the home, and up to eight ounces of homegrown marijuana inside the home.
• It is legal for adults 21 and over to grow up to four plants per household.

Vermont

• It is legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana.
• It is legal for adults 21 and over to grow up to six plants per household, only two of which can be mature.

Washington

• It is legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana in private.
• It is illegal to grow plants.


The 22 States with Legal Medical Marijuana

In addition to the 11 states plus D.C. with legalized recreational weed—and legal medical marijuana—these 22 states have legalized just medical marijuana.

• Arizona
• Arkansas
• Connecticut
• Delaware
• Florida
• Hawaii
• Louisiana
• Maryland
• Minnesota
• Missouri
• Montana
• New Hampshire
• New Jersey
• New Mexico
• New York
• North Dakota
• Ohio
• Oklahoma
• Pennsylvania
• Rhode Island
• Utah
• West Virginia

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Lifestyle – Esquire

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