Legality of cannabis by U.S. jurisdiction
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. 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 legal (with a doctor's recommendation) in 33 states, plus the District of Columbia, and the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Fourteen 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. Although cannabis remains a Schedule I drug, the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment prohibits federal prosecution of individuals complying with state medical cannabis laws.
The recreational use of cannabis is legal in 10 states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington), the District of Columbia, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Another 13 states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands have decriminalized. Commercial distribution of cannabis is allowed in all jurisdictions where cannabis has been legalized, except Vermont and 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Memorandum provided some protection against the enforcement of federal law in states that have legalized, but it was rescinded by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
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, Syndros, Cesamet, and Epidiolex. Cannabidiol is also sold by numerous online retailers who claim their products are derived from industrial hemp and therefore legal. Although the Drug Enforcement Administration considers non-Epidiolex CBD a Schedule I drug, it has so far not taken action to shut down these sales.
|Legal||Legal for medical use||limited THC content Legal for medical use,||Prohibited for any use||D Decriminalized|
(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)||12 plants in a household with two adults 21+, or no limit with commercial license||
Legalized by Measure 2 on November 4, 2014.
|Arizona||Illegal||legal||medical use only||medical use only|
|Arkansas||Illegal||legal||medical use only||
Possession under three ounces 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%.
|California||legal||legal||up to 1oz. (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.
|Colorado||legal||legal||up to 1 oz. (28 grams)||six plants, or commercially licensed||
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. Second state to legalize recreational marijuana after Washington.
|Connecticut||D||decriminalized||legal||felony (legal for medical use)||felony||
Possession less than a half-ounce by those 21 or over, results in graduated fines, and confiscation. Under 21 face more sanctions, with temporary loss of drivers license.
|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.
|Florida||illegal||legal||medical use only||medical use only|
|Georgia||illegal; decriminalized in the cities of Atlanta, Clarkston, Forest Park, Savannah, South Fulton, Statesboro, and unincorporated Fulton County||CBD oil less than 5% THC||medical use only||illegal||
Misdemeanor possession of one ounce or less can be punished by a fine up to $1000 or up to 12 months in jail. 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. 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.
|Hawaii||illegal||legal||against program rules.||medical use only||
June 15, 2000: Governor Benjamin Cayetano signed bill legalizing medical marijuana. First state legislature to do so. July 14, 2015: Governor David Ige signed bill allowing medical cannabis dispensaries. July 14, 2016: Governor Ige signed law expanding medical cannabis programs.
|Idaho||misdemeanor (85 grams/3 oz. or less)||illegal||not clearly stated||felony||
Possession of 3 ounces 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 a felony up to 5 years prison or fine up to $10,000 or both.
|Illinois||D||decriminalized (civil infraction)||legal||legal for medical use||misdemeanor (legal for medical use)||
Cannabis Control Act of 1978 allowed for medical marijuana but was never implemented.
|Indiana||misdemeanor up to 6 months, $1000 fine||CBD oil less than 0.3% THC, legal for any use||not clearly stated||illegal||
|Iowa||illegal||cannabis oil less than 3% THC||not clearly stated||felony||
|Kansas||misdemeanor||CBD oil containing 0% THC, legal for any use||not clearly stated||illegal|
|Kentucky||misdemeanor (less than 8 oz (230 g))||CBD oil||not clearly stated||misdemeanor (less than 5 plants)||
|Louisiana||illegal||legal||medical use only||illegal||
|Maine||legal||legal||legal to carry up to 2.5oz. (71 grams)||up to six plants, or commercially licensed|
|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.
|Massachusetts||legal||legal||up to 1 oz. (28 grams)||1 oz of marijuana outside the home, 10 oz inside the home, up to six plants.|
|Michigan||legal||legal||medical and recreational||2.5 oz of marijuana outside the home, allows 10 oz and up to 12 plants per household||
|Minnesota||D||decriminalized||legal||medical use only||illegal|
|Mississippi||D||decriminalized (first offense; 30 grams or less)||CBD oil||not clearly stated||illegal||
|Missouri||D||decriminalized||legal||not clearly stated||legal for medical use||
|Montana||illegal||legal||medical use only||medical use only||
Possession 60 grams or less up to 6 months in prison and fine of $100–$500. Second offense up to 3 years in prison or fine up to $1,000 or both. More than 60 grams a felony up to 5 years in prison or fine up to $50,000 or both. Intent to distribute a felony up to 20 years in prison or fine up to $50,000 or both.
|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.
|Nevada||legal||legal||medical and recreational use||(adults at least 21) 6 plants per household||
November 7, 2000: medical marijuana legalized with 65% vote on Question 9.
|New Hampshire||D||Decriminalized (up to three-quarters of an ounce)||legal||medical use only||medical use only||
July 23, 2013: medical marijuana legalized when Governor Maggie Hassan signed HB 573. July 11, 2015: Governor Hassan expanded medical marijuana law.
July 18, 2017: Governor Chris Sununu signed bill decriminalizing up to three-quarters of an ounce.
|New Jersey||illegal||legal||medical use only||illegal||
January 18, 2010: medical marijuana law signed by Governor Jon Corzine. Maximum 1 year in prison and 1,000 dollar fine for possession of up to 50 grams. September 19, 2016: Governor Chris Christie signed Assembly Bill 457 adding PTSD as qualifying condition for medical marijuana, effective immediately.
|New Mexico||illegal; decriminalized in Albuquerque.||legal||medical use only||medical use only|
|New York||D||decriminalized (unless open to public view)||legal||medical use only||misdemeanor|
|North Carolina||D||decriminalized (.5 oz or less)||CBD oil||illegal||illegal||
|North Dakota||illegal||legal||medical use only||
November 8, 2016: legalized medical marijuana when voters passed Measure 5 by 64%.
|Ohio||D||decriminalized (civil infraction)||legal||not clearly stated||illegal||
June 8, 2016: Governor John Kasich signed legislation legalizing medical marijuana.
|Oklahoma||illegal||legal||not clearly stated||legal with medicinal license|
|Oregon||legal||legal||up to 1 oz., more for licensed cultivators||(adults 21+) 4 plants per household||
Voter approved Measure 91 November 4, 2014 provides for possession and sale of set amounts of cannabis. Cannabis sentencing reform signed July 1, 2015 by Governor Kate Brown. More medical cannabis reforms signed July 28, 2015 by Governor Brown effective October 1, 2015. Governor Brown signed 25% cannabis sales tax.
Medical use law signed by Governor Wolf April 17, 2016. Possession of 30g 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.
|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.
|South Carolina||misdemeanor||cannabis oil less than 0.9% THC||CBD oil||illegal|
|South Dakota||misdemeanor||illegal||not clearly stated||illegal||
Personal use of 2 oz or less a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by maximum 1 year in prison and maximum fine $2,000.
|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.
|Texas||Illegal. "Cite and Release" in Houston, Dallas, and Austin residents of Travis County||CBD oil||not clearly stated||illegal||
Dec. 2014: "possession of up to two ounces of marijuana can result in a jail sentence of up to six months and fine of up to $2,000." June 1, 2015: governor Greg Abbott signed a bill legalizing CBD oil for medical use.
|Utah||misdemeanor||legal||not clearly stated||illegal||
Possession up to an ounce 6-months prison and maximum fine $1,000. Over 10 ounces $10,000 fine. Selling any amount a felony with 5 years in prison and $5,000 fine.
|Vermont||legal (up to one ounce, no commercial sales)||legal (medical sales allowed)||legal||two mature plants, four immature||
May 19, 2004: medical marijuana legalized when Senate Bill 76 passed, expanded in June 2007 by SB 7.
|Virginia||misdemeanor||cannabis oil less than 5% THC||not clearly stated||illegal||
First offense- Unclassified Misdemeanor up to 30 days jail and $500 fine or both, and loss of driving privilege or community service. 2nd offense Class 1 misdemeanor up to 12 months prison and $2,500 fine or both, plus loss of driving privileges. First offense may qualify for deferred disposition & dismissal with drug assessment, classes, community service, and loss of driving privileges for six months, but does not qualify for expungement, remaining on record permanently.
|Washington||legal||legal||legal||legal with restrictions and 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. First state to legalize recreational marijuana (Dec 6, 2012, by 4 days).
|West Virginia||misdemeanor||legal||not clearly stated||illegal||
"Compassionate Use Act for Medical Cannabis; providing for protections for the medical use of cannabis..."
|Wisconsin||misdemeanor on first offense, felony on subsequent offenses||CBD oil||qualified patients may have 12 plants and three oz of leaves or flowers. ||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 or less a misdemeanor up to 1 year in prison and fine up to $1000.
|legal (no commercial sales)||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||
By inhabited territory
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||illegal||legal||medical use only||medical use only||
Residents passed a ballot measure on November 4, 2014, that allows cannabis for medical use only.
|Northern Mariana Islands||legal||legal||legal||legal|
|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.
|U.S. Virgin Islands||D||decriminalized||legal||medical use only||medical use only|
By Native-American reservation
|Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe
|legal||Legal sales since January 1, 2016||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.|
|legal||Legal sales since December 2015||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.|
|Squaxin Island Tribe
|legal||Legal sales since November 2015|
- Legality of cannabis
- Legal history of cannabis in the United States
- Timeline of cannabis laws in the United States
- Cannabis laws of Canada by province or territory
- Solomon–Lautenberg amendment ("Smoke a joint, lose your license" laws)
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