Legality of cannabis by U.S. jurisdiction
The use, possession, sale, cultivation, and transportation of cannabis (marijuana) in the United States under federal law is illegal but the federal government has announced that if a state wants to pass a law to decriminalize cannabis for recreational or medical use they can do so, but they need to have a regulation system in place for cannabis. Cannabis is listed as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, the highest classification under the legislation. This means that the substance has been claimed by the U.S. federal government to have both high abuse potential and no established medical use.
However, individual state laws do not always conform to the federal standard. State-level proposals for the rescheduling of cannabis have met with mixed success. Currently, the use of both recreational and medicinal marijuana has been entirely legalized in the states of Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon. The cities of Portland and South Portland in Maine fully legalized marijuana for both medical and recreational use. The District of Columbia has fully legalized recreational and medical marijuana, but recreational commercial sale is currently blocked by Congress. Eleven states have both medical marijuana and decriminalization laws. Nine states and Guam have only legalized medical marijuana. Four states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have only decriminalized possession laws. The remaining twenty-two states and three inhabited territories state that marijuana is illegal, a felony, or a misdemeanor.
(1st-offense, personal use possession is a misdemeanor)
|felony||illegal||illegal||Under Alabama Code, first-time "personal use" offenders are charged with Possession in the Second Degree, § 13A-12-214. This offense is classified as a misdemeanor; the maximum penalty authorized is a 1-year jail term (although it can be suspended with probation ordered) and a $6,000 fine.
Possession in the First Degree, § 13A-12-213, is charged for non-"personal use" (i.e. intent to sell) and second and subsequent "personal use" offenses. Thise latter charge is a Class C felony punishable with imprisonment of 1-to-10 years (there is a mandatory minimum of 1-year-and-1-day to serve which cannot be suspended by the judge) and $15,000 fine.
Sale of any amount is a Class B felony punishable with a 2-to-20 year sentence (with the 2 years being a mandatory minimum) and $30,000 fine. Sale to a minor is punishable by a sentence of 10-years-to-life imprisonment and a maximum fine of $60,000.
|Alaska||a||legal||medical and recreational use||legal to carry up to 1 oz. (28 grams)||legal to grow up to six plants for an individual, or commercially with a license||Legalized in Measure 2 on November 4, 2014.|
|Arizona||d||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||In November 2010 Arizona legalized medical marijuana when the voters passed Proposition 203 with 50.13% of the vote.|
|Arkansas||e||misdemeanor||illegal||illegal||illegal||The possession of under four ounces of marijuana is a Class A misdemeanor under state law, carrying a fine of up to $2,500 and up to one year's imprisonment. For those with two existing convictions for possession, a third offense or above is treated as a Class D felony, and carries a punishment of a maximum of six years' imprisonment and a maximum $6,000 fine. In the northwestern cities of Fayetteville and Eureka Springs, citizens voted to make adult marijuana possession offenses the lowest law enforcement priority.
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act was put up for referendum in the November 2012 elections. The act would have allowed for non-profit organisations to grow and sell medicinal cannabis and additionally permitted patients who live over five miles from a legal dispensary to cultivate a small number of plants on their own property. It was voted down with only 48.6% of voters in favor, but activists reportedly plan to continue working to pass legislation. Were the act to have passed, it would have been the first of its kind in the South.
|California||b||decriminalized (civil infraction)||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||In July 1975, Governor Jerry Brown enacted Senate Bill 95, which reduced the penalty for possession of one ounce (28.5 grams) of cannabis or less to a citable misdemeanor.
On November 5, 1996, California became the first state in the United States to legalize medical marijuana when the voters passed Proposition 215 by 56%.
|Colorado||a||legal||medical and recreational use||legal to carry up to 1 oz. (28 grams)||legal to grow up to six plants for an individual, or commercially with a license||Colorado Amendment 64 legalized the sale and possession of marijuana for non-medical uses on November 6, 2012, including private cultivation of up to six marijuana plants, with no more than three being mature.|
|Connecticut||b||decriminalized (Legal for medical use only)||felony (Legal for medical use only)||felony (Legal for medical use only)||felony||Possession of less than one half ounce by persons 21 and over results in graduating scale of fines, and seizure of contraband. Under 21 face addition sanctions, to include temporary loss of license to drive. (ref. http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/rpt/2011-R-0489.htm (Connecticut General Assembly))|
|Delaware||d||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||On Friday, February 10, 2012, Gov. Markell announced that he was suspending the medical marijuana program because his office received a letter from the Obama Justice Department alleging that its implementation would subject those licensed under the law, as well as public servants, to federal criminal prosecution.|
|Florida||e||misdemeanor (if 20 grams or less)||felony||felony||felony||Conviction causes a driver's license suspension for a period of 1 year (as of July 1, 2014). Law (http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0300-0399/0381/Sections/0381.986.html §381.986(c), Fla Stat. Compassionate use of low-THC cannabis) passed on "Charlotte's Web."|
|Georgia||d||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||Any conviction of a marijuana possession, sale, or cultivation offense results in suspension of driver's license. First-time offenders may be eligible for a conditional discharge under Section 16-13-2 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.), which operates as a dismissal if certain conditions are met, such as the payment of a fine and community service. A measure to allow medical cannabis oil passed the House in February 2015. On April 16, 2015, Marijuana was legalized for medical use in the state.|
|Hawaii||d||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||On June 15, 2000, Governor Benjamin Cayetano signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana.|
|Idaho||e||misdemeanor (85 grams/3 oz. or less)||felony||felony||felony||Personal use possession of 3 ounces or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year imprisonment and/or a fine up to $1,000 if for. If the quantity possessed is more than 3 ounces but less than 1 pound, it is a felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine up to $10,000.|
|Illinois||d||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||Illinois passed the Cannabis Control Act in 1978, which technically allows for medical marijuana. However in order for it to become an actuality, action is required from two state departments—Human Services and the State Police—neither of which has taken action.
On August 1, 2013, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana; the legislation took effect on January 1, 2014.
|Indiana||e||misdemeanor (Up to 6 months, $1000 Fine)||misdemeanor/felony||illegal||illegal||Laws affecting possession, cultivation and sale of marijuana were amended to reduce the penalties for simple possession, but enhance the penalties for delivery, and possession with the intent to deliver, in certain circumstances (amendments effective on July 1, 2014, under IC 35-48-4).
Sale or cultivation of more than 10 lbs or within 1,000 feet of a school, or any other specialized area will result in a minimum of 2–8 years and a $10,000 fine.
|Iowa||e||misdemeanor||felony||illegal||felony||Possession of any amount on the first, second, and third charges will be classified as misdemeanors with a 6-month, 1 year, and 2 years sentence respectively. The maximum fines for the first, second, and third charges will be $1,000, $1,875, and $6,250 respectively. Chronic marijuana smokers may be sent to rehab after the third offense. Selling or cultivation can result in a $100,000 fine if a minor is involved or if within 1,000 feet from a school.|
|Kansas||e||misdemeanor||illegal||illegal||illegal||Senate bill 9 was pre-filed by David Haley (D) on January 10, 2013. This cannabis compassion and care act will allow the use of medical marijuana for certain debilitating conditions. Patients would be allowed to own 12 plants or 6 ounces of marijuana for therapeutic purposes. This bill was referred to the committee on Public Health and Welfare January 15, 2013 and is still set on the official legislature website as of February 28, 2014.
The first possession charge of any amount will result in a misdemeanor with a 1-year incarceration sentence and a $1,000 fine maximum. The second offense can result in a fine of $100,000. Sale or distribution of any amount can result in a $300,000 fine.
|Kentucky||e||misdemeanor (less than 8 oz (230 g))||misdemeanor (less than 8 oz (230 g); first offense||illegal||misdemeanor (less than 5 plants)||Written a ticket with a court date and then released for misdemeanor possession.|
|Louisiana||e||illegal||illegal||illegal||illegal||Possession of less than 60 pounds is punishable by up to 6 months in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both for a first offense, up to 5 years in prison, a fine up to $2,500, or both for a second offense, and up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both for any subsequent offense. Distribution or cultivation of any amount carries a mandatory sentence of 5–30 years for a first offense and a maximum fine of $50,000. Subsequent offenses carry a minimum 10–60 year sentence and a fine of up to $100,000. Any involvement of a minor carries a 45–90 year sentence and a $75,000 fine.|
|Maine||b||decriminalized (civil infraction) (legal in the cities of Portland and South Portland)||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||On November 2, 1999, Maine legalized medical marijuana when 62% of the populace voted yes on Question 2.
On May 1, 2009, Maine further decriminalized cannabis when Governor John Baldacci signed legislation (LD 250) which made possession of 2.5 ounces or less a civil infraction.
|Maryland||b||decriminalized (10g or less)||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||*By statute, defendants who can prove medical necessity at trial face a maximum penalty of $100. Defendants in possession of an ounce or less of marijuana are permitted to raise an affirmative defense to the possession charge if they can prove they suffer from a specific debilitating medical condition.
On April 14, 2014, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signed two pieces of cannabis reform legislation. SB 364 decriminalizes possession of 10 grams or less to a civil infraction punishable by a $100 fine for the first offense, a $250 fine for a second offense, and a $500 fine plus possible drug treatment for a third offense. HB 881 legalizes the possession, sale, and production of medical cannabis, and it authorizes the creation of a commission to license dispensaries, doctors, and patients to manage distribution. These two laws do not go into effect until October 1, 2014, prior to the effective date, possession of any amount of marijuana could still be charged and prosecuted.
|Massachusetts||b||decriminalized (civil infraction)||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||On November 4, 2008, Massachusetts decriminalized cannabis when 63% of the populace voted yes on Question 2. The legislation defines possession of 1 ounce or less to be a civil infraction punishable by a $100 fine.
|Michigan||d||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||*Under zero tolerance, users cannot operate a motor vehicle in possession ((a) Enclosed in a case that is carried in the trunk of the vehicle.
(b) Enclosed in a case that is not readily accessible from the interior of the vehicle, if the vehicle in which the person is traveling does not have a trunk.)or under the influence of a Schedule 1 narcotic. Marijuana is listed as a Schedule 1 narcotic.
|Minnesota||b||decriminalized||medical use only||medical use only||illegal||Possession of 42.5 grams or less is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $200 for personal use. The distribution of 42.5 grams or less without remuneration is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $200. Smoking plant material is still illegal. Only legal to vapor, oil, and pill form for medical purposes.|
|Mississippi||c||decriminalized (first offense; 30 grams or less)||illegal||illegal||illegal||As a first offense, possession of 30 grams or less carries up to a $250 fine. If valid proof of identity and a signed written pledge to appear in court is provided by the offender, an arrest is not performed and civil summons is issued instead. The University of Mississippi reportedly also has a small-scale, federally-approved medicinal cannabis cultivation program, though cannabis is not legal for such purposes in the state itself.|
|Missouri||e||misdemeanor||felony||illegal||illegal||Possession of less than 35 grams is a Class A misdemeanor which is punishable by a maximum sentence of 1 year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Possession of 35 grams- 30 kilograms is a Class C felony which is punishable by a maximum sentence of 1 year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000. Possession of 30-100 kilograms is considered trafficking and is a Class B felony punishable by a sentence of 5–15 years and a fine of $5,000-$20,000. Possession of more than 100 kilograms is considered trafficking and is a Class A felony punishable by 10 years-life imprisonment and fine of $5,000-$20,000.
|Montana||d||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||Personal use possession of 60 grams or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months imprisonment and a fine of $100 – $500. A second offense is punishable by up to 3 years imprisonment and/or a fine up to $1,000. Possession of more than 60 grams is a felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine up to $50,000. Possession of any amount of marijuana with intent to distribute is a felony punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment and/or a fine up to $50,000.|
|Nebraska||c||decriminalized (first offense only)||illegal||illegal||illegal||Possession of up to one ounce of cannabis is treated as a civil infraction for the first offense, and as a misdemeanor for the second and third offenses. A fine of up to $300 may be issued for the first offense, along with potential court-mandated drug education courses. A second offense is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to five days' jail time, and a third offense carries up to a $500 fine and a maximum of one week in jail.|
|Nevada||b||decriminalized for adults 21 years and over; misdemeanor for persons under age 21||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||On November 7, 2000, Nevada legalized medical marijuana when 65% of the populace voted yes on Question 9.|
|New Hampshire||d||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||On July 23, 2013, New Hampshire legalized medical marijuana when Governor Maggie Hassan signed HB 573.|
|New Jersey||d||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||On January 18, 2010, New Jersey legalized medical marijuana when Governor Jon Corzine signed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act.|
|New Mexico||d||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||In April 2007, New Mexico legalized medical marijuana when Governor Bill Richardson signed Senate Bill 523.|
|New York||b||decriminalized (unless open to public view)||misdemeanor (25 g or less)||illegal||misdemeanor||On July 14, 2014, New York legalized medical marijuana when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act into law. The legislation only allows patients to ingest cannabis using edibles, oils, pills, or vaporization, and does not allow smoking of the plant material.|
|North Carolina||c||Decriminalized (.5 oz or less)||Felony||Illegal and subject to Possession/Sale punishments.||Felony. Only the state is "legally" allowed to grow cannabis. Specific strains of low THC (less than 1%) and high CBD (10%) are being researched and developed and processed into an oil by the state for distribution to medical facilities, universities and colleges. Specific strains such as Charlotte's Web are being researched.||Bills introduced to decriminalize and allow expungement of 0.5 oz (14 g) and below, currently remains a Misdemeanor with no jail time and a max of a $200 fine. 0.5 oz (14 g) to 1.5 oz (43 g) is a misdemeanor with 1–45 days of jail and a max of $1000 fine. 1.5 oz (43 g) to 10 lb (4.5 kg) is a felony with 3–8 months of jail and a max of $1000 fine. 10 lb (4.5 kg) and up is generally considered intent to sell which holds greater jail time and fines maxing at 14.5–18 years jail time and $100,000 in fines. Intent to sell also holds stricter consequences than possession and is a felony no matter the weight (weight determines punishment severity). Medical Marijuana bill introduced May, 2014 awaiting committee decision.|
|North Dakota||e||misdemeanor||illegal||illegal||illegal||Personal use possession of less than half an ounce is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 days imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Personal use possession of less than half an ounce while operating a motor vehicle is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of 1 year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,000. Personal use possession of half an ounce - 1 ounce is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of 1 year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,000.
|Ohio||c||decriminalized||illegal||illegal||illegal||Petitions have been submitted and approved by the state ballot committee to allow Ohio voters to legalize cannabis for medical purposes if the patient is 18 years old or older, but would only be able to be prescribed by a medical provider.|
|Oklahoma||e||illegal||illegal||illegal||illegal||DUI penalties pursuant to H.B. 1441, effective October 1, 2013, a person will be jailed for no less than 30 days or more than 1 year if: A person as any amount of a Schedule I chemical or controlled substance, as defined in Section 2-204 of Title 63 of the Oklahoma Statutes, OR ONE OF ITS METABOLITES OR ANALOGS in the person’s blood, saliva, urine or any other bodily fluid at the time of a test of such person's blood, saliva, urine or any other bodily fluid administered within two (2) hours after the arrest of such person. A second offense will have longer sentencing as well as require an ignition interlock device that can only detect alcohol even if person is not a user of alcohol.|
|Oregon||a||legal||medical use only; by January 1, 2016: regulations governing legal sale to be issued||medical use only; by July 1, 2015: legal transport of up to 1 oz.; by January 1, 2016: legal transport of larger amounts by marijuana cultivators||medical use only; by July 1, 2015: legal cultivation by adults 21+ of up to 4 plants per household||Oregon voters approved Measure 91 on November 4, 2014, providing for regulated legal possession and sale of set amounts of cannabis.|
|Pennsylvania||e||misdemeanor||illegal||illegal||illegal||Possession of 30g or less is a misdemeanor resulting in up to 30 days incarceration and a fine of up to $500. Possession of more than 30g is a misdemeanor netting up to a year in jail and a $5000 fine.|
|Rhode Island||b||decriminalized (civil violation)||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||Possession of an ounce or less is a civil violation with a $150 fine, three violations within 18 months would is a misdemeanor with larger fines and/or prison.|
|South Carolina||e||illegal||illegal||illegal||illegal||First-time possession offenders can complete one year of probation instead of following conventional criminal procedure.|
|South Dakota||e||misdemeanor||illegal||illegal||illegal||Personal use possession of 2 oz or less is a Class 1 misdemeanor which is punishable by a maximum sentence of 1 year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $2,000.|
|Tennessee||e||misdemeanor* (less than 1/2 ounce; first or second offense only); except for cannabis oil for the purposes of treating seizures or epilepsy authorized by the physician||felony||illegal||misdemeanor: 9 plants or less; felony: 10+ plants||First-time possession offenders can complete one year of supervised probation instead of criminal penalty of one year incarceration; *Possession of 1/2 ounce or more is automatic felony charge: possession for resale. Cannabis oil possession, as of Monday, May 4, 2015, is allowed, due to newly signed legislation, if a person is suffering seizures or epilepsy and has the recommendation of their doctor.|
|Texas||e||illegal||illegal||illegal||illegal||"Both the current leadership and candidates for prominent political offices are increasingly calling for marijuana policy reform in the Lone Star State--In Texas, a conviction for possession of up to two ounces of marijuana can result in a jail sentence of up to six months and a fine of up to $2,000." |
|Utah||e||misdemeanor||felony||illegal||illegal||House bill 105 was introduced by Representative Gage Froerer (R) and has been passed and signed by the governor. This bill would excuse anyone who was in possession of hemp extract. Hemp extract means an extract from a cannabis plant, or a mixture or preparation containing cannabis plant material, that is composed of less than .3% of THC by weight.
Possession of less than an ounce can result in a 6-month incarceration and a maximum fine of $1,000. Any amount over 10 ounces can result in a $10,000 fine. Selling of any amount is a felony and will result with 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
|Vermont||b||decriminalized (civil infraction)||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||On May 19, 2004, Vermont legalized medical marijuana when Governor James Douglas announced he would allow Senate Bill 76 to pass without his signature. The law was further expanded in June 2007 when Senate Bill 7 passed without Governor Douglas' signature once again.
On June 6, 2013, Governor Peter Shumlin signed legislation (HB200) which decriminalized the possession of 1 ounce or less to a civil infraction. In early 2015, a bill is currently being proposed to end prohibition of cannabis and legalize recreational cannabis in the state.
|Virginia||e||misdemeanor||illegal||illegal||illegal||A first offense is an "Unclassified Misdemeanor," meaning the maximum penalty is 30 days in jail and a $500 fine (or both), and loss of driving privileges. A subsequent offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of 12 months in confinement and a $2,500 fine (or both), plus loss of driving privileges. A first-offense will qualify for a deferred disposition resulting in dismissal. This option requires a drug assessment, classes, community service, and loss of driving privileges for six months. The first-offender program is controversial according to some Virginia criminal defense attorneys and advocates for young men and women in the Commonwealth, primarily because it does not allow the defendant to qualify for expungement, and as a result, remains on the individual's record for life.|
|Washington||a||legal||medical and recreational use||legal||legal with restrictions and licensing||Marijuana was legalized by Washington Initiative 502 in 2012. The law requires state licenses from all sellers, distributors and producers of Marijuana, and permits anyone over 21 to carry one ounce. The state allows licensed growers to cultivate marijuana, but does not permit personal growing in one's home except for medical use.|
|West Virginia||e||misdemeanor||felony||illegal||illegal||"Creates the "Compassionate Use Act for Medical Cannabis; providing for protections for the medical use of cannabis..."" |
|Wisconsin||e||illegal||illegal||illegal||illegal||"An Assembly bill allows qualifying patients to possess 12 marijuana plants and three ounces of marijuana leaves or flowers." |
|Wyoming||e||misdemeanor||illegal||illegal||illegal||"Being under the influence of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 90 days imprisonment and a maximum fine of $100.
Possession of three ounces or less is a misdemeanor that is punishable by a maximum of 1 year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1000." 
By Federal district
|District of Columbia||b||legal||medical use only; no provision for commercial sale||legal to carry up to 2 oz. (57 grams)||legal to grow up to six plants (only three mature at a time) for recreational purposes; no provision for commercial recreational cultivation||In 1998, Initiative 59 was voted in to allow medical marijuana, but its effecting was blocked by Congress until 2009.
In 2014, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill that decriminalized possession of up to an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana in the U.S. capital for persons 18 years of age or older. The law made possession a civil violation with a penalty of $25, lower than most city parking tickets.
On 4 November 2014, D.C. voted by ballot Initiative 71 to legalize marijuana possession and cultivation for personal recreational use (commercial production and sale not permitted); the law went into effect 26 February 2015 following 30 days of Congressional review.
|American Samoa||e||illegal||illegal||illegal||illegal||In 1999, the Territory established a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence for possession of any amount of any illegal drug, to explicitly include marijuana, even when medically prescribed in another jurisdiction.|
|Guam||d||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||Residents passed a ballot measure on 4 November 2014 that allows cannabis for medical use only.|
|Northern Mariana Islands||e||illegal||illegal||illegal||illegal|
|Puerto Rico||e||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||medical use only||On May 4th the governer of Puerto Rico signed an executive order legalizing medicinal marijuana in the U.S territory. |
|U.S. Virgin Islands||c||decriminalized||illegal||illegal||illegal|||
- Legal history of cannabis in the United States
- Illegal drug trade
- Legal and medical status of cannabis
- Legality of cannabis
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