Do you want to know if the use of cannabis is legal in your state? There are varying laws and regulations when it comes to the medical or recreational use of cannabis across 50 states. 

Whether you are a marijuana business owner or a qualified patient, it is important to know the statutes and restrictions to avoid any trouble with the law. Read on to learn more about the legal status of cannabis in every state. 

The Legality of Marijuana in the U.S.

At a federal level, marijuana remains prohibited. It is classified by the federal government as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, along with cocaine and heroin. 

Controlled substances are considered to have a high potential for abuse and dependency, with little to no medical benefit. Although marijuana use is federally illegal, state laws have varying restrictions. As of now, 48 out of 50 states allow for the use of some medical cannabis products.

Aside from medical purposes, the recreational use of marijuana is legal in the following states:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Washington

It is important to note that even if marijuana is fully legal in the states mentioned above, individual state laws indicate a certain amount you can possess, carry, or transport. 

Every U.S. state except for Idaho and Nebraska has passed a form of legislation permitting medically legal cannabis. However, some states are particularly restrictive.

For instance, low-THC cannabidiol (CBD) oil is the only form of non-medical cannabis allowed in these states: Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Legal Status of Cannabis By State

Below is an overview of the legal status and decriminalization of cannabis per state:

StateCannabis Legal StatusDecriminalized
AlabamaMedically LegalNo
AlaskaFully Legal Yes
ArizonaFully Legal Yes
ArkansasMedically LegalNo
CaliforniaFully Legal Yes
ColoradoFully Legal Yes
ConnecticutMedically LegalYes
DelawareMedically LegalYes
District of ColumbiaFully Legal Yes
FloridaMedically LegalYes
GeorgiaMedically LegalNo
HawaiiMedically LegalYes
IdahoFully IllegalNo
IllinoisFully Legal Yes
IndianaMedically LegalNo
IowaMedically LegalNo
KansasMedically LegalNo
KentuckyMedically LegalNo
LouisianaMedically LegalNo
MaineFully Legal Yes
MarylandMedically LegalYes
MassachusettsFully Legal Yes
MichiganFully Legal Yes
MinnesotaMedically LegalYes
MississippiMedically LegalYes
MissouriMedically LegalYes
MontanaFully Legal Yes
NebraskaFully IllegalYes
NevadaFully Legal Yes
New HampshireMedically LegalYes
New JerseyFully Legal Yes
New MexicoMedically LegalYes
New YorkFully Legal Yes
North CarolinaMedically LegalYes
North DakotaMedically LegalYes
OhioMedically LegalYes
OklahomaMedically LegalNo
OregonFully Legal Yes
PennsylvaniaMedically LegalNo
Rhode IslandMedically LegalYes
South CarolinaMedically LegalNo
South DakotaFully Legal Yes
TennesseeMedically LegalNo
TexasMedically LegalNo
UtahMedically LegalNo
VermontFully Legal Yes
VirginiaMedically Legal Yes
WashingtonFully Legal Yes
West VirginiaMedically Legal Yes
WisconsinMedically LegalNo
WyomingMedically LegalNo

Generally, states with medical marijuana laws have some form of a patient registry that may provide protection against arrest for marijuana possession. 

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Qualified individuals must have a recommendation from a licensed physician to purchase medical cannabis legally. Patients under a medical marijuana program are only allowed to have a certain amount of cannabis for personal medicinal use. 

A total of 36 states have approved comprehensive and publicly available medical marijuana programs. A “comprehensive” program can be determined using the following criteria:

  • Protects individuals from criminal penalties for using marijuana for medical purposes
  • Allows access to marijuana through home cultivation, a dispensary, or another system that is likely to be implemented
  • Allows a variety of products or strains, including those with more than “low THC”
  • Permits smoking or vaporization of some kind of marijuana products, whether it is plant material or extract
  • Is not a limited trial program (Nebraska and South Dakota have limited trial programs not open to the public.)

Bottom Line

The use of cannabis is fully legalized in some states, while others only allow it for medicinal purposes. Understanding the state regulations and restrictions is crucial to maintain compliance with the law. This information will also come in handy, especially if you are traveling from one state to the other. 

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