Legality of cannabis by U.S. jurisdiction

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Map of cannabis laws in the US
Legality of cannabis in the United States
  Legal
  Legal for medical use
  Legal for medical use, limited THC content
  Illegal for any use
  D  Decriminalized
Notes:
· Includes laws which have not yet gone into effect.
· Cannabis remains a Schedule I drug under federal law.
· Some Indian reservations have legalization policies separate from the states they are located in.
· Cannabis is illegal in all federal enclaves (other than hemp).

In the United States, the use and possession of cannabis is illegal under federal law for any purpose, by way of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Under the CSA, cannabis is classified as a Schedule I substance, determined to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use – thereby prohibiting even medical use of the drug.[1] At the state level, however, policies regarding the medical and recreational use of cannabis vary greatly, and in many states conflict significantly with federal law.

The medical use of cannabis is legalized (with a doctor's recommendation) in 35 states, four out of five permanently inhabited U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.[2] Thirteen other states have laws that limit THC content, for the purpose of allowing access to products that are rich in cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis.[2] Although cannabis remains a Schedule I drug, the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment prohibits federal prosecution of individuals complying with state medical cannabis laws.[3]

The recreational use of cannabis is legalized in 15 states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington), the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam. Another 16 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have decriminalized.[4] Commercial distribution of cannabis is allowed in all jurisdictions where cannabis has been legalized, except the District of Columbia. Prior to January 2018, the Cole Memorandum provided some protection against the enforcement of federal law in states that have legalized, but it was rescinded by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.[5]

Although the use of cannabis remains federally illegal, some of its derivative compounds have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for prescription use. Cannabinoid drugs which have received FDA approval are Marinol (THC), Syndros (THC), Cesamet (nabilone), and Epidiolex (cannabidiol). For non-prescription use, cannabidiol derived from industrial hemp is legal at the federal level, but legality (and enforcement) varies by state.[6][7]

Legend:
  Legal   Legal for medical use   Legal for medical use, limited THC content   Prohibited for any use D Decriminalized

By state[edit]

State Recreational Medical Transportation Cultivation Notes
 Alabama Felony
(1st-offense possession is a misdemeanor)
Non-Psychoactive CBD oil not clearly stated Illegal

First-time may be punished as a misdemeanor, but further possession, or intent to sell, can result in felony charges.

 Alaska Legal Legal Up to 1 oz. (28 grams)[8] 12 plants in a household with two adults 21+,[9] or no limit with commercial license

Legalized by Measure 2 on November 4, 2014.[10]

 Arizona Legal Legal Up to 1 oz. (28 grams)[11] 6 plants in a household, or a maximum of 12 with two or more adults 21+[12]

Recreational use legalized through Proposition 207 on November 3, 2020.[13] Medical use legalized through Proposition 203 in 2010.[14][15][16]

 Arkansas Illegal Legal Medical use only Medical use only

Possession under three ounces (85 grams) a misdemeanor; Cities of Fayetteville and Eureka Springs labeled cannabis their lowest law enforcement priority. November 8, 2016: medical marijuana legalized when Issue 6 passed by 53%.[17]

 California Legal Legal Up to 1 oz. (28 grams) Six plants, or commercially licensed

July 1975: Senate Bill 95 reduced the penalty for possession of one ounce (28.5 grams) or less of cannabis to a citable misdemeanor.[18]
November 1996: first state to legalize medical marijuana when Proposition 215 passed by 56%.[19]
November 2016: Proposition 64 passed by 57% to 43%, legalizing sale and distribution, effective January 1, 2018.[20]

 Colorado Legal Legal Up to 1 oz. (28 grams) Six plants, or commercially licensed[21]

Colorado Amendment 64 legalized the sale and possession of marijuana for non-medical use on November 6, 2012, including cultivation of up to six plants with up to three mature.[22][23] Colorado became the second state to legalize, going into effect four days after Washington state.[23] It was the first state for legal retail sales to become established.[24]

 Connecticut D Decriminalized Legal Felony (legal for medical use) Felony

Possession of less than a half-ounce (14 grams) by those 21 or over results in graduated fines and confiscation. Those under 21 face more sanctions, with temporary loss of driver's license.[25]

 Delaware D Decriminalized (Civil infraction) Legal Medical use only Medical use only

February 10, 2012: Governor Markell suspended medical marijuana after a Justice Department letter threatened federal prosecution. On August 31, 2016, Gov. Markell signed House Bill 400, expanding medical cannabis programs for those with a terminal illness.[26][27]

 Florida Illegal Legal Medical use only Medical use only

November 8, 2016: medical marijuana legalized as of July 1, 2017, when voters passed Amendment 2 by 71%.[28]

 Georgia Illegal; Decriminalized in the cities of Atlanta,[29] Clarkston,[30] Forest Park,[31] Savannah, South Fulton,[32] Statesboro,[33] and unincorporated Fulton County.[34]Decriminalized in Macon–Bibb County as of May 21, 2019. CBD oil less than 5% THC Medical use only Illegal

Misdemeanor possession of one ounce (28 grams) or less can be punished by a fine up to $1000 or up to 12 months in jail.[35] It is a felony for anyone to possess more than one ounce, manufacture, deliver, distribute, dispense, administer, purchase, sell, or possess with intent to distribute marijuana and it is punishable by imprisonment for no less than one year and no more than ten years.[36] City and county level punishments for misdemeanor possessions vary.

April 16, 2015: use of low-THC CBD oil legalized for medical use, but in-state cultivation, production, and sale remains illegal.[37]

State Recreational Medical Transportation Cultivation Notes
 Hawaii D Decriminalized [38] Legal Against program rules. Medical use only

June 15, 2000: Governor Benjamin Cayetano signed bill legalizing medical marijuana. First state legislature to do so.[39][40]

July 14, 2015: Governor David Ige signed bill allowing medical cannabis dispensaries.[41]

July 14, 2016: Governor Ige signed law expanding medical cannabis programs.[42]

June 25, 2019: Governor Ige announced that he would not veto a bill passed by the legislature to decriminalize less than three grams of marijuana. Law went into effect January 11, 2020.[38]

 Idaho Misdemeanor (85 grams/3 oz. or less) Illegal Not clearly stated Felony

Possession of 3 ounces (85 grams) or less a misdemeanor up to 1 year prison or fine up to $1,000 or both. More than 3 ounces but less than 1 pound (0.45 kg) a felony up to 5 years in prison or fine up to $10,000 or both.[43]

In 2015, the Idaho Attorney General stipulated that CBD must both contain zero THC and be derived from one of the five identified parts of the cannabis plant, otherwise it is illegal in Idaho under current law.[44]

 Illinois Legal[45] Legal Up to 1.1 oz. (30 grams) Five plants in home for medical use only, or commercially licensed for recreational[46]

Cannabis Control Act of 1978 allowed for medical marijuana but was never implemented.[47][48]

August 1, 2013: Gov. Pat Quinn signed bill legalizing medical marijuana effective January 1, 2014.[49]

May 31, 2019: The General Assembly passed the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act to legalize recreational marijuana use beginning January 1, 2020, allowing adults age 21 and over to possess up to 30 grams.[50] With Gov. J. B. Pritzker's signature on June 25, Illinois became the first state in the nation to legalize adult marijuana sales through an act of state legislature.[51][45]

 Indiana Misdemeanor up to 6 months, $1000 fine CBD oil less than 0.3% THC, legal for any use Not clearly stated Illegal
  • 1913: prohibited
 Iowa Illegal Cannabis oil less than 3% THC Not clearly stated Felony
  • 2014 CBD oil legalized
 Kansas Misdemeanor CBD oil containing 0% THC, legal for any use Not clearly stated Illegal
  • 1927: prohibited
  • 2018: CBD oil exempted from the definition of marijuana.[52][53][54]
 Kentucky Misdemeanor (less than 8 oz (230 g)) CBD oil Not clearly stated Misdemeanor (less than 5 plants)
  • 2014 CBD legalized
 Louisiana Illegal Legal Medical use only Illegal
  • 1924: prohibited
  • 2015: medical cannabis legalized
 Maine Legal Legal Legal to carry up to 2.5 oz. (71 grams) Up to three mature plants, 12 immature plants and unlimited number of seedlings; or commercially licensed[55]
  • 1913: prohibited
  • 1976: decriminalized
  • 1999: medical cannabis[56]
  • 2009: further decriminalization[57][58]
  • 2016: legalized recreational[59]
 Maryland D Decriminalized (10g or less) Legal Medical use only Illegal

April 14, 2014: SB 364 decriminalized possession of 10 grams or less punishable by $100 fine for first offense, $250 fine for second offense, and $500 fine plus possible drug treatment for third offense. HB 881 legalized medical cannabis. Both laws effective October 1, 2014.[60][61]

 Massachusetts Legal Legal Up to 1 oz. (28 grams) 1 oz. (28 grams) of marijuana outside the home, 10 oz inside the home, up to six plants. Or a commercial license[62]
  • 2008: decriminalized cannabis by 63% vote on Question 2. One oz or less punishable by $100 fine.[63][64]
  • 2012: medical marijuana legalized when Question 3 passed by 60%.[65][66]
  • 2016: legalized recreational marijuana when Question 4 passed by 54%.[67]
 Michigan Legal Legal Medical and recreational 2.5 oz. (70 grams) of marijuana outside the home, allows 10 oz. (283 grams) and up to 12 plants per household, or commercially licensed[68]
  • 2008: legalized medical cannabis
  • 2018: legalized recreational cannabis
 Minnesota D Decriminalized Legal Medical use only Medical use only
  • 1976: decriminalization[69]
  • 2014: medical cannabis legalized[70]
 Mississippi D Decriminalized (first offense; 30 grams or less) Legal Medical use only (up to 2.5 ounces (70 grams))[71] Medical use only
  • 1978: decriminalized
  • 2014: CBD legalized
  • 2020: medical cannabis legalized through Initiative 65.[72][73]
 Missouri D Decriminalized Legal Not clearly stated Legal for medical use
  • 2014: decriminalized
  • 2014: CBD legalized
  • 2018: Missouri voters approved Amendment 2, allowing for the distribution and regulation of medical cannabis.
 Montana Legal Legal Legal Legal

Legalized by Initiative 190 on November 3, 2020

 Nebraska D Decriminalized (first offense only) Illegal Not clearly stated Illegal

Possession up to one ounce fined up to $300 for first offense, with potential mandatory drug education. Second offense fine up to $500 and up to five days' jail, third offense up to $500 fine and maximum one week jail.[74]

 Nevada Legal Legal Medical and recreational use Adults at least 21 years old can grow in home (6 plants per household), or commercially licensed[75]

November 7, 2000: medical marijuana legalized with 65% vote on Question 9.[76][77]
November 8, 2016: recreational marijuana legalized when Question 2 passed by 54%.[78] Home cultivation allowed if 25 miles away from store.[79]

 New Hampshire D Decriminalized (up to three-quarters of an ounce (21 grams)) Legal Medical use only Medical use only

July 23, 2013: medical marijuana legalized when Governor Maggie Hassan signed HB 573.[80][81] July 11, 2015: Governor Hassan expanded medical marijuana law.[82] July 18, 2017: Governor Chris Sununu signed bill decriminalizing up to three-quarters of an ounce (21 grams).[citation needed]

 New Jersey Legal Legal Medical and recreational use Legal

Legalized by referendum on November 3, 2020.[83][84]

 New Mexico D Decriminalized Legal Medical use only Medical use only

Medical use was legalized in 2007 when Governor Bill Richardson signed Senate Bill 523.[85][86] Legislation to decriminalize was signed in 2019.[87]

 New York D Decriminalized[88] Legal Medical use only Misdemeanor

July 14, 2014: medical marijuana legalized when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation allowing edibles, oils, pills, and vaporization, but not smoking.[89][90][91]

June 20, 2019: full decriminalization bill passed legislature and signed into law by Governor Cuomo. The bill decriminalizes amounts under two ounces (56 grams), providing for a $50 fine for under one ounce and $100 for under two ounces. It also eliminates the "in public view" loophole whereby police would demand suspects empty their pockets, thus causing the cannabis to be in public view.[92] The law took effect on August 30, 2019.[93]

 North Carolina D Decriminalized (1.5 oz. (42 grams) or less) CBD oil Illegal Illegal
  • 1977: decriminalized
  • 2015: CBD legalized
 North Dakota D Decriminalized (0.5 oz. (14 grams) or less) Legal Medical use only Medical use only
  • November 8, 2016: legalized medical marijuana when voters passed Measure 5 by 64%.[94]
  • May 2019: decriminalized[95]
 Ohio D Decriminalized (civil infraction) Legal Not clearly stated Medical use only

June 8, 2016: Governor John Kasich signed legislation legalizing medical marijuana.[96]

 Oklahoma Illegal Legal Not clearly stated Legal with medicinal license
  • 1933: criminalized[97]
  • 2015: Governor Mary Fallin signed law allowing CBD oil for children with epilepsy.[98]
  • June 26, 2018: Voters in Oklahoma approved State Question 788, legalizing medical marijuana.[citation needed]
 Oregon Legal Legal Up to 1 oz. (28 grams), more for licensed cultivators (Adults 21+) 4 plants per household, or commercially licensed[99]

In 1973, Oregon became the first state to decriminalize cannabis.[100][circular reference] Voter approved Measure 91 November 4, 2014 provides for possession and sale of set amounts of cannabis.[101][102] Cannabis sentencing reform signed July 1, 2015 by Governor Kate Brown.[103][104] More medical cannabis reforms signed July 28, 2015 by Governor Brown effective October 1, 2015.[105][106] Governor Brown signed 25% cannabis sales tax.[107]

 Pennsylvania Illegal Legal Medical use only Medical use only

Medical use law signed by Governor Wolf April 17, 2016. Possession of 30g (1 oz.) or less up to 30 days in jail and fine up to $500. More than 30g a misdemeanor up to a year in jail and $5000 fine.[108]

 Rhode Island D Decriminalized (civil violation) Legal Medical use only Medical use only

Possession of an ounce $150 fine, three violations within 18 months a misdemeanor with larger fines or prison or both.[109]

 South Carolina Misdemeanor[110] Cannabis oil less than 0.9% THC CBD oil Illegal
  • 2014: Governor Nikki Haley signed Senate Bill 1035, "Julian's Law", allowing children with severe epilepsy to be treated with CBD oil if recommended by a physician.[111]
 South Dakota Legal Legal Legal up to 1 oz. (28 grams). Legal

Legalized by referendum on November 3, 2020.[112][113]

 Tennessee Misdemeanor (less than 1/2 ounce; first or second offense only). Cannabis oil less than 0.9% THC CBD oil Misdemeanor: 9 plants or less; felony: 10+ plants

First-time possession one year supervised probation instead of one year in prison; *Possession of 1/2 ounce or more for resale a felony. CBD oil possession allowed as of May 4, 2015, if suffering seizures or epilepsy with recommendation of doctor.[114]

 Texas Illegal. "Cite and Release" in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin residents of Travis County CBD oil with no more than 0.5% THC and no less than 10% CBD Not clearly stated Illegal

Dec. 2014: "possession of up to two ounces (56 grams) of marijuana can result in a jail sentence of up to six months and fine of up to $2,000."[115] June 1, 2015: governor Greg Abbott signed a bill legalizing CBD oil for medical use in patients with intractable epilepsy.[116] In May 2019, Texas expanded the qualifying conditions of medical cannabis to include Parkinson's disease, ALS, autism, multiple sclerosis, spasticity and terminal cancer.[117]

 Utah Misdemeanor Legal Not clearly stated Illegal

HB 105 signed in 2014 allows use of low-THC cannabis oil for patients with epilepsy.[118] HB 195 signed in March 2018 allows cannabis for certain terminally ill patients.[119]

Possession up to an ounce (28 grams) 6-months prison and maximum fine $1,000. Over 10 ounces (283 grams) $10,000 fine. Selling any amount a felony with 5 years in prison and $5,000 fine.[120]

 Vermont Legal (up to one ounce (28 grams) or yield of two mature plants)[121] Legal Legal Two mature plants, four immature, no commercial cultivation

May 19, 2004: medical marijuana legalized when Senate Bill 76 passed,[122] expanded in June 2007 by SB 7.[123]
June 6, 2013: Governor Peter Shumlin signed HB200, decriminalizing one ounce (28 grams).[124] January 2018: HB511 passed,[125][126][127] legalizing one ounce and two plants,[128] taking effect on July 1, 2018.[129][130][131] First state legislature to legalize recreational marijuana.[132]

 Virginia D Decriminalized Cannabis oil less than 5% THC Not clearly stated Illegal

Decriminalized up to one ounce (punishable by a $25 fine) per legislation signed by Gov. Ralph Northam in April 2020.[133]

 Washington Legal Legal Legal Legal with restrictions and commercial licensing

Legalized by Washington Initiative 502 in 2012, the law permits anyone over 21 to carry one ounce, and it requires licensed sellers, distributors and growers. Home growing is not allowed except for medical use.[134] First state to legalize recreational marijuana (Dec 6, 2012, four days before Colorado).[135]

 West Virginia Misdemeanor Legal Not clearly stated Illegal

"Compassionate Use Act for Medical Cannabis; providing for protections for the medical use of cannabis..."[136]

 Wisconsin Misdemeanor on first offense, felony on subsequent offenses[137] CBD oil Qualified patients may have 12 plants and three oz. (85 grams) of leaves or flowers.[136] Felony

First possession a misdemeanor fine up to $1,000 or imprisonment up to 6 months, or both. Second offense a Class I felony fine up to $10,000 or imprisonment up to 3.5 years, or both.

 Wyoming Misdemeanor CBD oil Not clearly stated Illegal

Being under the influence of marijuana is a misdemeanor up to 90 days in prison and fine up to $100. Possession three ounces (85 grams) or less a misdemeanor up to 1 year in prison and fine up to $1000.[138]

Federal district[edit]

District Recreational Medical Transportation Cultivation Notes

 District of Columbia

Legal (no commercial sales)[139] Legal (commercial sales) Legal to carry up to 2 oz. (56.7 grams) Legal to grow up to six plants (only three mature at a time) for recreational purposes; no provision for commercial recreational cultivation
  • 1998: Initiative 59 was voted in to allow medical marijuana, but its effecting was blocked by Congress until 2009.
  • 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.
  • 2014, D.C. voted by ballot Initiative 71 to legalize marijuana possession and cultivation for personal recreational use (commercial production and sale prohibited); the law went into effect February 26, 2015 following 30 days of Congressional review.[140]

By inhabited territory[edit]

Territory Recreational Medical Transportation Cultivation Notes
 American Samoa 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.[141]

 Guam Legal Legal Legal Legal

Residents passed a ballot measure on November 4, 2014, that allows cannabis for medical use only.[142] In March 2019, the Legislature of Guam passed a bill (by a close vote of 8–7) to legalize recreational cannabis. The Governor of Guam signed the bill into law on April 4, 2019, with immediate effect.[143]

 Northern Mariana Islands Legal Legal Legal Legal

On September 21, 2018, Republican governor Ralph Torres signed a bill into law to legalize the recreational use of cannabis in the territory.[144][145]

 Puerto Rico Illegal Legal Medical use only Medical use only

On May 4, 2015, the governor of Puerto Rico signed an executive order legalizing medicinal marijuana in the U.S territory.[146]

 U.S. Virgin Islands D Decriminalized Legal Medical use only Medical use only

Possession of up to an ounce (28 grams) was decriminalized in December 2014.[147] Medical use was legalized in January 2019.[148]

By Tribal Nation[edit]

Reservation Possession Sale Transportation Cultivation Notes
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe
(South Dakota)
Legal[149] Legal sales since January 1, 2016 Legal One single licensed grow site for the nation In summer 2015, the tribal authorities voted 5–1 to legalize recreational cannabis, making them the first reservation to do so following the 2013 Cole Memorandum.[149]
Suquamish Tribe
(Washington state)
Legal Legal sales since December 2015[150][151] Legal Legal In September 2015, the tribe signed the nation's first tribe-state cannabis pact, under which the tribe would operate a cannabis retail store with regulations paralleling those of Washington state.[152]
Squaxin Island Tribe
(Washington state)
Legal Legal sales since November 2015[153] Legal Legal Legalized in November, 2015.[154]

Legalization timeline[edit]

United States Jurisdictions With Legalized Recreational Cannabis
Jurisdiction Legalization Date Method
Washington (state) December 6, 2012 Initiated Ballot Measure
Colorado January 5, 2013 Initiated Ballot Measure
Alaska February 24, 2015 Initiated Ballot Measure
Washington, D.C. February 26, 2015 Initiated Ballot Measure
Oregon July 1, 2015 Initiated Ballot Measure
California November 9, 2016 Initiated Ballot Measure
Massachusetts December 15, 2016 Initiated Ballot Measure
Nevada January 1, 2017 Initiated Ballot Measure
Maine January 30, 2017 Initiated Ballot Measure
Vermont July 1, 2018 Legislative Bill
Northern Mariana Islands September 21, 2018 Legislative Bill
Michigan December 6, 2018 Initiated Ballot Measure
Guam April 4, 2019 Legislative Bill
Illinois January 1, 2020 Legislative Bill
Arizona November 30, 2020 Initiated Ballot Measure
Montana January 1, 2021 Initiated Ballot Measure
New Jersey January 1, 2021 Legislatively Referred Ballot Measure
South Dakota July 1, 2021 Initiated Ballot Measure

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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