Cannabis Legalization Status in the US by State [Updated]
by Stela Gineva | AROYA Contributor
Cannabis is illegal at the federal level in the United States. However, each state sets its own laws around consumption and cultivation for medical and recreational purposes. While some states allow growing for personal and commercial reasons, others take a much more stringent approach.
The legalization list by state below provides up-to-date information on the legal status of cannabis in each state. Information on commercial licensing is also available for states where this is a viable option.
LEGALIZATION STATUS BY STATE:
Cannabis is illegal for recreational purposes but efforts to legalize it for medical reasons are underway in Alabama. Cultivation penalties are based on the plant’s entire weight and could result in life imprisonment.
In Alaska, cannabis is legal for both recreational and medical purposes. Home cultivation for personal use is limited to six plants. Cannabis-based businesses and employees in Alaska must obtain a marijuana handler permit via the Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office. This involves completing a training course.
Marijuana is legal for both recreational and medical purposes in Arizona. Home cultivation is limited to six plants. Those wishing to cultivate cannabis for commercial purposes will need to seek further information via the Arizona Department for Health Services. Licensing is available for both recreational and medical cannabis businesses.
Medical cannabis is legal in Arkansas for certain medical conditions. Patients cannot cultivate their own plants and should use state-approved dispensaries. Those who wish to operate dispensaries and cultivation facilities in Arizona must be licensed via the Medical Marijuana Commission.
Cannabis is legal for recreational and medical use in California. Commercial cultivation is possible and is regulated through the Department for Cannabis Control where prospective entrepreneurs can apply for a license.
All Colorado residents are allowed to cultivate up to six marijuana plants and use cannabis for recreational and medical purposes. The Marijuana Enforcement Division is responsible for licensing the medical and retail industries in Colorado.
As of July 2021, it is legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana for recreational purposes in Connecticut. Medical cannabis is also legal in the state.
There are plans to involve entrepreneurs in the newly legalized cannabis market and a number of licenses could be made available to growers in communities that have been disproportionately affected by drug-related crimes as part of social equity efforts.
Cannabis is legal for medical purposes in Delaware. However, home cultivation may result in a felony conviction and recreational use is not permitted. Medical marijuana cultivation and distribution is regulated via the Office of Medical Marijuana.
Medical marijuana is legal in Florida but home cultivation remains illegal. Eligible patients can purchase marijuana from state-sanctioned dispensaries. Recreational use is not permitted. Information for dispensaries is available via the Medical Marijuana Use Registry.
Cannabis is illegal in Georgia with unlicensed cultivation carrying significant prison time. Some CBD products are allowed for medical purposes. A small number of licensed cultivators are allowed to grow cannabis.
Cannabis is legal for medical purposes and registered patients and caregivers can grow their own plants. Possession of small amounts of marijuana (under 3 grams) was also decriminalized in 2019. However, recreational cannabis remains illegal. The Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program administers applications for commercial purposes.
Cannabis is illegal in Idaho with heavy penalties in place for possession and distribution. The only exception to these rules is a CBD product known as Epidiolex which is used in severe cases of epilepsy.
Cannabis products are legal for recreational and medical use in Illinois. Those who wish to get licensed should seek further information via the Illinois Cannabis Program.
While CBD is legal in Indiana, cannabis is illegal and possession can carry heavy penalties. A first offense could result in jail time and a $1000 fine.
Most types of medical cannabis are legal in Iowa. However, smokable medical marijuana and cannabis for recreational purposes remain illegal. Information for manufacturers and dispensaries is available via the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Cannabis is illegal in Kansas. The only exception is CBD oil for medical purposes. Even small-scale cultivation efforts could result in hefty penalties including years of jail time and six-figure fines.
Cannabis is illegal in Kentucky for both recreational and medical purposes. This includes cultivation. Larger projects, involving more than five plants, could result in 5 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
Medical cannabis is legal in Louisiana as long as it is prescribed to an eligible patient and sourced from a state-controlled pharmacy. Patients cannot cultivate their own plants. The legislature currently only authorizes two university manufacturers to grow cannabis, but there is some good news. With the introduction of House Bill 425, the state could see the number of licensed pharmacies double this year, from ten to twenty.
Cannabis products are legal in Maine for recreational and medical purposes. Commercial growers and others involved in the cannabis industry can apply for licensing via the Office of Marijuana Policy.
Maryland has a legal medical cannabis program and allows pre-approved growers to cultivate cannabis within the state. The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is responsible for overseeing growers.
Massachusetts allows the use of cannabis products for both recreational and medical use. The licensing process for cannabis businesses happens via the Cannabis Control Commission.
Cannabis is legal for recreational and medical purposes in Michigan. Businesses in the cannabis industry can find further information on licensing via the Marijuana Regulatory Agency.
Cannabis is legal for medical purposes and has been partially decriminalized for recreational purposes. Two companies were selected to manufacture cannabis in Minnesota. Further information on selection is available via the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Program.
Despite recent efforts to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, cannabis products remain illegal in Mississippi as of 2021. Growing a single plant could result in a minimum jail sentence of two years.
Missouri allows licensed patients and caregivers to grow limited amounts of marijuana for medical purposes. Cannabis products remain illegal for recreational purposes. Licensing information is available via the Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation.
Cannabis is legal in Montana for both recreational and medical use. The Montana Department of Labor and Industry provides information on facility requirements and licensing for growers and dispensaries.
Carrying small amounts of marijuana will result in a minimal fine in Nebraska, as possession of one ounce or less is decriminalized in certain circumstances. However, cannabis remains illegal in the state with severe penalties for cultivation. Growing a single plant could result in a felony conviction and jail time.
Nevada allows cannabis use for both medical and recreational purposes. Licensing information is available via the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board.
Medical patients are allowed to have up to two ounces of marijuana on their person in New Hampshire. However, cannabis products for recreational purposes remain illegal. Home cultivation is also illegal. Information on dispensaries is available via the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.
Cannabis products are legal in New Jersey for both medical and recreational purposes. Information around licensing can be obtained from the Cannabis Regulatory Commission.
Recreational and medical cannabis is legal in New Mexico as of 2021. Commercial sales are due to start in 2022. Nearly 400 companies applied for a license to grow cannabis in the state within hours of the application process opening up.
In New York, recreational and medical uses of cannabis are legal. Home cultivation for personal use is likely to be legalized too. Those disproportionately impacted by the policing of cannabis are encouraged to participate in the cannabis industry through social equity policies in the state.
Cannabis is illegal in North Carolina. Hefty penalties for cultivation projects are in place in the state. Even small-scale cultivation efforts could result in mandatory prison time. Those with large-scale operations could spend 18 years in jail and be fined up to $200,000.
Cannabis products are legal for medical purposes but not for recreational use. Patients who live more than 40 miles away from a registered dispensary are permitted to grow up to 8 plants under certain conditions. Further information is available via the Division of Medical Marijuana.
Some cannabis products are available to registered patients in Ohio for medical purposes. But, smoking marijuana is banned for medical and recreational reasons. Home cultivation is also not permitted. Licensed medical dispensaries are growing in number, with 73 new dispensaries approved this year. More information regarding licensing is available here.
Licensed patients are allowed cannabis products for medical purposes in Oklahoma. Recreational use remains illegal, however. Cannabis cultivators can get licensed via the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority.
Medical and recreational cannabis products are legal in Oregon. Medical marijuana growers can find more information around licensing via the Oregon Health Authority. Recreational marijuana growers will need to check the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission.
While cannabis products are legal for medical purposes, there are hefty penalties for recreational use in Pennsylvania, with prison time for possession of small amounts. Information for growers and dispensaries is available via the Medical Marijuana Program.
Cannabis for medical use is legal in Rhode Island. In some instances, marijuana for recreational purposes has also been decriminalized. Further information is available via the Office of Cannabis Regulation.
Barring a few medical exceptions, cannabis products are illegal in South Carolina. Punishment for cultivation is dependent on the weight of the plant. This could result in mandatory prison time for a single plant.
South Dakota residents voted to legalize marijuana for recreational and medical purposes last year, but the infrastructure is still not in place to make this a reality. It is expected that growers will be able to apply for business licenses from 2023.
Cannabis is illegal in Tennessee. Those found in possession of less than 0.5oz could spend up to a year in prison. Even the smallest cultivation projects could result in jail time and a $5,000 fine.
Cannabis is illegal in Texas with very few medical exceptions for some CBD products. Cultivation penalties are based on the plant’s weight which could result in prison time for a single plant.
While recreational cannabis products are illegal in Utah, eligible patients can purchase medical cannabis products. Medical marijuana patients are not allowed to cultivate their own cannabis. There are eight licensed cannabis cultivators in Utah and there are no current plans to offer any more licenses.
Cannabis is legal for both recreational and medical use in Vermont. However, as legalization happened recently, the infrastructure to allow the legal sale of recreational marijuana is currently under development. It is expected that a legal recreational cannabis market will be operational from 2022, so there are exciting times ahead for prospective growers of cannabis in Vermont.
There is a medical marijuana program in place in Virginia that allows CBD oils and THC products. Recreational cannabis is due to be fully legalized in 2024 making this an exciting time for prospective growers who will be able to submit licensing applications from 2023.
While cannabis products are legal in Washington for medical and recreational use, unlicensed cultivation for personal use remains a felony. Commercial growers must obtain a license through the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.
While medical marijuana is legal in West Virginia, recreational use is not. Home cultivation is not permitted. Those who wish to grow or distribute medical cannabis products should seek to license via the state’s Office of Medical Cannabis.
Cannabis is illegal in Wisconsin with very few medical exceptions for some CBD products. Cultivation penalties are based on the size of the operation. Large projects involving more than 50 plants could result in a 15-year prison sentence and a $50,0000 fine.
Cannabis is illegal in Wyoming with severe penalties for distribution. Distribution of any amount of marijuana could result in 10 years of jail time, and a fine of $10,000.
[Photo Source: https://disa.com/map-of-marijuana-legality-by-state ]
[Updated, 18 November 2021]