We’ll be perfectly honest – it is an absolute nightmare trying to keep up with the ever-shifting legal status of marijuana these days. Just when you think it’s been legalized for good (or at least decriminalized), you hear another story of some poor soul getting busted and sent to jail for a ridiculous possession amount of like an eighth-ounce or something tiny.
And moreover, with CBD oil taking a massive foothold in the industry and other goodies like wax concentrates, shatters, dabs, and edibles making profound statements as well, it can be borderline impossible knowing what’s legal, and what’s not.
That’s why in this article, we decided to try and answer the question of “is marijuana still illegal” as clearly as possible. Of course, though, whether or not bud is legal will depend on the state that you live in, so with that in mind, we’ve included answers on each and every state in the good ‘ol USA. Enjoy, and we hope this article is of some help to you (let’s just hope it’s not outdated by the time you read it!).
Where Is Marijuana Recreationally Legal?
As of early 2020, marijuana is recreationally legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington (state), and Washington D.C.
This means if you live in any one of these states, you can go to a certified cannabis dispensary and buy any marijuana product your little heart desires, as long as you’re over the age of 21 — no MMJ card, no certification, and no medical documentation necessary.
(*However, be advised that some recreationally-legal states, such as Michigan, do not yet have operational dispensaries open. While possession of weed is technically legal, you still can not go into a store and buy it without a medical marijuana card).
When it comes to actually smoking bud, however, (or taking edibles, concentrates, etc.) rules are a little bit more stringent. You are not allowed to smoke in the vast majority of recreational dispensaries (although some are kind of lenient on the official rules), and consumption is also prohibited in (most) public places – pretty much identical to the way alcohol is.
Likewise, you can still get busted by the police faster than you can say “I’m stoned” if you get caught doing something stupid like driving while high.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; when using recreational weed, it’s best to treat it like alcohol – consume it in your own home (or otherwise in some other safe and legal location), and use it responsibly.
In What States Is Weed Medically Legal?
In addition to the ten states (plus D.C.) listed above (i.e. weed is legal both medically AND recreationally in those states), marijuana is legal on a medical level in another 23 states. These include:
- Arkansas (not yet operational)
- Louisiana (not yet operational)
- Missouri (not yet operational)
- New Mexico
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota (not yet operational)
- Ohio (not yet operational)
- Oklahoma (not yet operational)
- Rhode Island
- Utah (not yet operational)
- West Virginia (not yet operational)
In these states, in order to buy (and use) marijuana legally, you must be officially registered with the state as a resident, have a qualifying medical condition, and own a valid Medical Marijuana Patient Identification Card (MMJ Card).
(See our detailed list of the state-by-state processes for obtaining a medical marijuana card here).
In the states listed as “not yet operational,” this simply means that legislation has passed for the legal medical use of marijuana, but dispensaries (and or ID cards) are not yet at a functioning status. Some states, (like Ohio or Oklahoma), seem to be a confusing mess in terms of what’s required for the MMJ application, while others (like Florida) are pretty cut and dry.
Bear in mind that in these states, unless you have your valid MMJ card on you, you are liable to get arrested (and potentially serve jail time) if you are caught with any amount of marijuana.
In What States Has Marijuana Been Decriminalized?
In some states where weed has been legalized medically but not recreationally, laws have been passed to decriminalize the possession of marijuana. This means that if you get caught with weed and don’t have an MMJ card, you are only eligible to receive a fine, rather than actually getting arrested and going to jail.
Here are the states where weed has been decriminalized:
- New Hampshire
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
In these states, even though weed is not recreationally legal, you cannot get arrested for use or possession of normal amounts.
*(Note that for purposes of redundancy, the ten states (and D.C.) where weed is legal recreationally have been omitted).
What About CBD — In What States Is CBD Legal?
In addition to the jumbled mess of recreational, medical, and decriminalized versions of legalization, some other states have passed laws for CBD-only legalization, even though marijuana itself is still illegal on both the medical and recreational levels.
If you are unfamiliar with CBD, it is basically a therapeutic compound from marijuana that has tons of medical components but produces no high. There are some marijuana strains that have been bred specifically to contain high amounts of CBD and practically zero THC (the component that gets you high), but the majority of people who use CBD use either edibles, topical ointments, or oil drops that you place under the tongue.
We won’t go into much detail here in this article, but CBD is actually an incredibly therapeutic compound that has seemingly no end to its list of potential medical uses. Among other things, it has shown clinical potential to help treat things like depression, anxiety, stress, obesity, inflammation, and chronic pain.
Here are the states that have CBD-only legalization:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
*(Also note that in these states, you do need a medical recommendation in order to buy legal CBD from a state-certified dispensary).
Final Thoughts on “Where Marijuana Is Legal?”
If you’ve been keeping track, you’ll have noticed that only Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota have zero laws whatsoever on legalized marijuana (or CBD). Way to go, guys, you’re the ONLY THREE STATES in the country that can’t acknowledge the myriad of health benefits that cannabis offers!
It is important to note, even though cannabis is legal on a recreational or medical level in many states in the United States, marijuana is still illegal on a Federal level all throughout the U.S.
In any regard, we hope that this article has been helpful and informative in terms of figuring out where marijuana is legal. It certainly is not an easy topic to stay on top of, so make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into when you go to light up — no matter what state you’re in!