There is a growing acceptance of cannabis in the United States. At the time of writing, more than one-third of Americans live in a state where recreational marijuana is permitted.
It remains a long road ahead to earn federal legal status, but cannabis campaigners have achieved a remarkable amount.
Since California implemented an MMJ program in 1996, momentum towards full legalization has grown. Unfortunately, not every state is willing to follow California, Colorado, Oregon, and others. In some of these locations, the sale or possession of marijuana is a serious crime. However, in others, the substance is decriminalized.
In this article, we check out the states that prohibit cannabis, along with possible penalties if caught using it.
Which States in the USA Is Marijuana Not Legal In?
Though the situation is currently changing every single year, medical marijuana is now legal in 35 states. However, it means there are still 15 states that don’t allow cannabis.
Here is an up to date list:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
In most of these states, CBD oil is legal for purchase in pharmacies or local dispensaries. However, you may require a doctor’s prescription in some cases. In Georgia and Virginia, you can use CBD oil with a maximum THC of 5% with a doctor’s recommendation.
In Texas, the CBD oil can’t contain more than 0.5% THC, while the limit is 0.9% in Tennessee and South Carolina and 3% in Iowa. You can technically get CBD oil in Idaho and Kansas, but it can’t contain a trace of THC. Nebraska is one of the few standouts in that it technically doesn’t even permit the use of cannabidiol.
Decriminalization of Marijuana
In the vast majority of states, cannabis is decriminalized. This means you won’t go to jail for possessing a small amount. Instead, it is generally considered a civil infraction. You receive a fine, but the charge doesn’t go on your criminal record.
The amount that’s decriminalized depends on the state. In most places, you get away with up to an ounce. However, in Connecticut, the maximum amount is half an ounce. It is 10 grams in Maryland. Check out your state’s laws to learn more.
Most of the states that decriminalize the possession of cannabis have at least an MMJ program. The majority of ‘illegal’ locations don’t, with Nebraska, North Carolina, and Virginia the exceptions. However, many of the remaining 12 states classify it as a misdemeanor. The following locations could punish you heavily, however:
- Georgia (Decriminalized in some areas such as Atlanta, Savannah, and Statesboro)
What Could Happen to You if You Smoke Marijuana in These States?
Don’t assume that a misdemeanor charge means you get off lightly. In Indiana, for example, you could receive a six-month prison sentence. However, things get much worse if you are arrested and found guilty in the four states we mentioned above:
- Alabama: The possession of any amount could result in a year in prison. The sale of any amount of weed is a felony with jail terms ranging from 2 to 20 years.
- Georgia: If you have less than an ounce, you can still get up to a year in prison. Possession of more than an ounce is a felony with a possible prison term of 10 years. The mandatory minimum sentence is a year. Sale of any amount is also a felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of 12 months.
- Iowa: Possession of any amount carries a prison sentence of up to six months. A second offense could mean a year in prison.
- Texas: Less than two ounces could spell six months in prison. Anything above four ounces but less than five pounds is a felony with at least six months in jail.
A felony conviction is a life-changing event. In general, the government defines it as a crime punishable by at least one year in prison. Apart from the huge fine and time spent in jail, felons face the following punishments when they get out:
- The loss of the right to vote
- Ineligibility for jury service
- Ineligibility for welfare or other forms of government assistance
- Deportation, if not an American citizen
- Exclusion from buying and owning firearms, ammunition, or body armor
- Exclusion from obtaining certain documents or licenses, such as a visa
- Not allowed to hold any office in the labor union
It also means you will find it much harder to get a job or even find housing. Your record will turn off most landlords and employers.
State-by-State Guide to Marijuana Possession Amount that Constitutes a Felony
- Alabama: Any amount on a second conviction.
- Georgia: More than an ounce.
- Idaho: More than 3 ounces.
- Indiana: More than an ounce on a second conviction.
- Iowa: No felony charges, though the sentence becomes more severe with each conviction. The sale or cultivation of any amount are felonies.
- Kansas: Any amount on a third conviction. Also, possession of 450 grams or more with intent to distribute is a felony.
- Kentucky: More than 8 ounces.
- Missouri: More than 35 grams.
- Nebraska: More than 16 ounces.
- North Carolina: More than 1.5 ounces.
- South Carolina: No set amount as possession of over an ounce is a misdemeanor.
- Tennessee: No set amount as possession of over half an ounce is a misdemeanor.
- Texas: More than 4 ounces.
- Wisconsin: Any amount on a second conviction.
- Wyoming: More than 3 ounces.
Definitions of Weight
What’s confusing is how states have different ways of measuring weight. In some places, they include the containers! Therefore, if you have a few grams in a metal box, you could face a felony charge!
It gets even worse in Texas when it comes to cannabis edibles. Possession of up to four ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor. However, it becomes an automatic felony if the weed is hash or resin extracted from the cannabis plant.
The 1989 Texas Controlled Substances Act is terrible news for edibles lovers. A single THC-infused gummy weighing less than four grams is enough to land you in prison for at least six months. A bag of hash brownies with a considered weight of over four grams is a felony. You could spend 20 years in prison!
This is because the state of Texas weighs the entire batch as if it was nothing but cannabis. You may have a batch that weighs 450 grams but contains perhaps two ounces of cannabis. Texan law states you have over 400 grams, which could mean life in prison!
Final Thoughts on What States Medical Marijuana Is NOT Legal in
Unfortunately, cannabis remains entirely illegal in 15 states. The possession of small amounts is decriminalized in most places. However, unusual calculations in places like Texas could ruin your life for the sake of a couple of cannabis brownies.
In all of the states mentioned above, it is best to play it safe and avoid using weed, if possible.
Even in states that allow MMJ and adult-use, there are severe penalties for breaking the rules. In California, for instance, possession of up to an ounce is legal when aged 21+. However, you could spend six months in prison if you have more than an ounce.
No matter where you are, exercise caution. Know the laws in your region and stick by them. Otherwise, you could face an uncomfortable wait as a felony charge heads in your direction.