There has been an unprecedented change in marijuana legalization laws in the United States over the past two decades.
While recently, for the past few years, the green wave to legalize medical marijuana and recreational marijuana has taken a surge throughout the country.
Consequently, the U.S has one of the most relaxed cannabis laws worldwide.
Today, I will take you through all the U.S states that have legalized marijuana entirely and how much you can possess, cultivate, and share with your friends.
Let’s get straight into it:
- 1 What Does Federal Law Say For Marijuana Legalization?
- 2 States With Fully Legalized Marijuana
- 2.1 Colorado – First U.S State To Legalize Marijuana in 2012
- 2.2 Washington – Legalized Marijuana in 2012
- 2.3 Washington D.C – in 2014
- 2.4 Alaska – in 2014
- 2.5 Oregon – in 2014
- 2.6 California – in 2016
- 2.7 Maine – in 2016
- 2.8 Massachusetts – in 2016
- 2.9 Nevada – in 2016
- 2.10 Michigan And Vermont – in 2018
- 2.11 Illinois – in 2019
- 2.12 Arizona, New Jersey, and Montana – in 2020
- 2.13 New York – in 2021
- 2.14 Virginia – in 2021
- 2.15 New Mexico – in 2021
- 2.16 Connecticut – in 2021
- 3 States Where Marijuana is Not Fully Legal
- 4 Marijuana Legalization in the U.S.: Conclusion
What Does Federal Law Say For Marijuana Legalization?
At the federal level, marijuana is illegal in the USA.
That means to possess marijuana, selling, sharing, and smoking weed remains an unlawful activity.
Even though different states allow marijuana usage in various circumstances, either by medical marijuana laws or adult use, the federal government has kept cannabis as a Schedule I drug.
However, due to massive support and demand to allow medical use of cannabis, most U.S. states legalized medical marijuana by 2016.
Still, recreational cannabis remained illegal by the federal government.
States With Fully Legalized Marijuana
As of now, a total of 18 U.S states have legalized marijuana entirely for recreational use or medical use.
While other states have at least permitted or legalized medical marijuana and cannabis products containing THC less than 0.3%.
Let’s dive deeper and find out what are the possession limits and other various important things that comes after legal marijuana in those 18 states:
Colorado – First U.S State To Legalize Marijuana in 2012
Colorado passed a ballot initiative in 2012 and became the first U.S state to allow legal retail sales and second to legalize recreational weed after approval.
The state imposed a 10% additional marijuana tax and the standard sales tax on recreational marijuana and its by-products.
Additionally, the 15% excise tax is also applied to wholesale marijuana to support the cultivators through businesses.
However, weed for medicinal purposes is exempted from the state’s 15 percent sales tax and 15 percent excise tax.
The good part is that the government has plans to use the revenue to use public welfare programs.
Even recently, governor Jared Polis signed a bill to establish social equity program for better use of marijuana funds.
Under this program, the government has set plans to help needy communities by providing education, loans, and grants, which is one of the positive steps towards better use of revenue by retail sales.
With that being said, the state has surpassed the retail sales of cannabis over $10 billion, which shows how much potential the cannabis industry has.
People aged 21 and above are only allowed to possess marijuana legally in Colorado.
The possession limit of cannabis was one ounce after 2012’s legalization.
However, after May 2021, governor Polis signed a bill to increase the possession of cannabis, leading to legally allowing adults to possess marijuana up to 2 ounces.
Coloradans can grow marijuana legally in their homes for personal use.
Growing cannabis plants should take place privately. That means you can’t grow outside from where an open public view is possible.
However, the cultivation limit is up to six plants per household, irrespective of adult members in residence.
Additionally, up to three plants can flower at a time. Further, you should not sell home-grown cannabis to anyone because only licensed businesses are allowed in the states to do so.
Medical Laws in Colorado:
Weed for medical patients has been legalized in Colorado since 2000.
And under medical cannabis programs, patients are allowed to possess up to 2 oz of cannabis.
Otherwise, they can also grow up to six plants per household.
Washington – Legalized Marijuana in 2012
Cannabis got legalized in Washington in 2012. And this state was the first in the USA to do so.
Also, retail sales of cannabis took place in the USA from Washington.
However, the legalization laws came into effect in 2013, but it was one of the positive and successful decisions of the governor.
Undoubtedly, this legalization has impacted the economy positively, producing more jobs and opportunities for the people and the freedom to choose a drug for their health.
Further, the Liquor and Cannabis Board regulate the cannabis industry and legal market in the state allowing the businesses and growers to get the license to operate legally.
With that said, no cultivator without a legal license can grow and sell marijuana.
The recreational sales of marijuana are taxed 37%, while the government dedicates most of the tax revenue towards public health programs, substance abuse prevention, and community health centers.
Till 2016, the sales in Washington touched the milestone of $1.1 billion, increasing the tax revenue to $315 million in 2017.
That shows how much the cannabis industry has been boosted after the legalization. That has also led the recreational dispensaries to take place in the state.
Washington residents aged 21 and above are permitted to adult recreational use of cannabis by the limit of one ounce.
Also, adult residents can access up to 16 ounces of marijuana-infused products in solid form and 72 ounces in a liquid state.
Moreover, the state Supreme Court ruling in Feb 2021 legalized simple drug possession.
Above the limits, authorities can impose the criminal charges accordingly.
Further, no distribution or sale is permitted under the state legislature without legal license or allowance.
You cannot cultivate weed plants as recreational marijuana cultivation remains illegal under the new law.
However, only growers with license and official permission can do so for businesses and retail sales in the state.
Medical patients are also an exception for this.
Medical Marijuana in Washington:
There are various qualifying medical conditions under the state medical program.
Further, the qualifying patients can possess up to three ounces of usable marijuana, 48 ounces of solid form, 216 ounces in liquid form, or 21 grams of marijuana concentrates.
In Washington, the patients can also grow six plants for personal medical use.
Washington D.C – in 2014
In the 2014’s ballot measure, Washington D.C legalized possession for recreational and medical use with cultivation and transportation.
However, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, leading to law enforcement on federal lands, national parks, and military properties.
Further, the sales of cannabis remain illegal. However, dispensaries can provide necessary medical cannabis products to patients.
The cannabis possession limit in the District of Columbia is 2 oz. Exceeding that can lead to legal prosecution.
Growers can grow six plants for personal use, which will cause no legal harm.
Medical Cannabis Legalization:
Cannabis for medical patients got legalized in the District of Columbia in 2010. And the law allowed medical dispensaries to cultivate up to 500 plants.
Alaska – in 2014
Alaska was one of the early adopters to legalize weed for medical patients and recreational marijuana use.
However, the full legalization happened in the state in 2014 with a ballot measure. Still, the state was facing issues with delivering legal weed throughout the region.
The marijuana dispensaries in the state were not that available, leading to less availability initially.
After 2016, when the dispensaries got more familiar and took a better hold in the state, Alaskans now got easy access to weed.
However, people are allowed to buy weed from licensed stores only. Additionally, public drug consumption remains illegal in Alaska.
You can possess up to one oz. of cannabis outside your home if you are an adult resident of Alaska. However, for minors, cannabis remains illegal.
Only legalized and licensed weed stores can sell recreational marijuana to adult residents.
Further, driving under the influence of cannabis taking marijuana within the flight, cruise, and public is strictly prohibited and comes under illegal activities.
Growing cannabis plants in Alaska is legal but out of public view.
The limit of growing cannabis plants in the state is 12 per household.
Medical Marijuana in Alaska:
The state has accepted medical use of cannabis for patients aged 18 or above with qualifying medical conditions.
They can get a medical card in Alaska to benefit from the medical program.
The possession limit of usable marijuana in one’s home is set up to one ounce. The patient can also grow up to six plants (three mature).
Oregon – in 2014
Oregon was one of the first states that decriminalized marijuana of minor possession until 2014, when cannabis got legalized entirely after Measure 91.
However, the state has made efforts even before in 1986 and 2012 by ballot initiative. However, it could not succeed, somehow.
Further, Oregon was one of the top U.S. states (number 5 overall) for cannabis usage in different age groups, according to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report in 2006.
Further, marijuana is prohibited in public places in the state. Additionally, driving under the influence of cannabis remains illegal and can lead to legal trouble.
Adult residents of Oregon can possess recreational cannabis up to one ounce in a public place. This limit goes to 8 ounces for the home possession.
Remember, possessing cannabis and using it in public are different terms, while the latter one remains illegal.
Further, the solid form of cannabis extracts limit is 16 ounces, and the limit for the liquid form of cannabis is set to up to 72 ounces.
Therefore, these limits have been more than enough for individual use.
However, you cannot take marijuana in or out of the state, even in that region where marijuana is legal.
Recreational cannabis sales are permitted in the state and personal cannabis plant production allowance.
The limit for home-growing cannabis plants is four in Oregon.
Additionally, no produced cannabis should be shared or distributed to minors or others.
Medical Program in Oregon:
The state possesses Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) to allow patients for medical use of cannabis.
Therefore, you can use cannabis for medical purposes in the state if you hold an OMMP registry card.
Cannabis possession for medical use is allowed to 24 ounces of marijuana with a cultivation limit of six mature plants.
California – in 2016
California is one of the U.S. states where recreational and medical use of marijuana is legal entirely.
Therefore, adult-use cannabis is permitted in the state with limitations.
However, medical use of cannabis was allowed since 1996 before recreational cannabis allowance.
After medical allowance, the state finally legalized recreational marijuana in November 2016, when the voters approved the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.
However, even after the marijuana legalization in California, the state legislature imposed huge taxes on marijuana sales, leading to a shady market for affordable weed.
Moreover, the authorities also permitted the operation of legal weed dispensaries by providing the license to the sellers.
According to a report in February 2020, the state has approximately 823 brick-and-mortar licensed cannabis shops.
Also, there could be 3000 retail sellers without permits. It is how much the state has got the marijuana popularity and demand among the people.
The dried cannabis possession limit is 28.5 grams, while you can keep 8 grams of concentrated cannabis.
Remember, using cannabis or smoking it in public places or on federal government lands is prohibited.
As per the latest law, you can grow up to six marijuana plants for recreational use. Additionally, sharing marijuana with minors is a crime.
Medical Program in California:
Medical use of cannabis has been permitted in California since 1996 after the Compassionate Use Act.
Therefore, people can access marijuana and its derivatives for medical use after a doctor’s recommendation.
Also, you can grow weed plants for personal use under the medical marijuana law.
Maine – in 2016
Maine was one of the U.S. states prohibiting cannabis in the early 20th century.
Also, the state decriminalized cannabis as minor possession in 1976. However, it took several years to establish complete marijuana legalization.
The medical law was first passed in the state in 1999, whereas the ballot initiative made recreational weed legal in 2016, spawning the cannabis industry.
Therefore, now, Maine has both medical marijuana and recreational use programs.
Adult residents of Maine are allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis products, including 5 grams of marijuana concentrates.
Remember that possession of cannabis at the federal property is not allowed in the state.
Mainers can grow up to three mature plants and 12 immature plants. However, this limitation is not for qualifying medical patients.
Medical Use Cannabis:
Patients who received the certification for qualifying conditions can access weed for medical purposes from a registered dispensary in the state.
Maine has five operational dispensaries from where patients can access cannabis products.
However, the government is looking forward to increasing the operational stores in the state, which is more likely to happen within the upcoming time.
Massachusetts – in 2016
Despite the cannabis ban on the federal level, Massachusetts made marijuana legal in 2016 after passing a ballot initiative.
Doing so, Massachusetts became another fully legal state for marijuana on the legal weed map of the USA.
Making weed legal in the state has spawned various opportunities through legal markets and dispensaries.
The 10.75% excise tax on marijuana led the government to earn $4 million tax revenue between Nov to Jan 2019.
That clearly showed how beneficial the cannabis market is going to be.
However, before complete recreational legalization, the state legalized the medical use of cannabis in 2012 after the approval of the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative.
Even before that, the state legislature had already decriminalized the minor possession of cannabis in 2008.
Thanks to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). The massive support of MPP led to overwhelmingly allowance for medical and recreational cannabis use in the state.
Up to one ounce of weed is allowed for possession by the adult residents or 5 grams of concentrates. Marijuana usage and smoking remain banned in public places and tobacco-banned areas.
Growing cannabis plants limit is set up to six per individual. However, the upper limit is 12.
Medical Program in Massachusetts:
Medical patients in the state are legally permitted to grow and purchase cannabis from registered dispensaries. However, they don’t need a medical card for that.
Nevada – in 2016
Nevada legalized marijuana for medical purposes in 1998 and 2000. However, recreational use came into effect after 17 years.
Even the state put a ballot initiative in 2002 to legalize recreational use, which failed with 39% votes.
Another initiative made to legalize recreational marijuana failed due to fewer votes.
Finally, the attempt to legalize weed got succeed in 2016 when adult-use cannabis was eventually permitted under state law.
With the latest update in the law in 2021, Governor Steve Sisolak signed another bill allowing the alcohol-free lounge for adults to purchase and consume marijuana products legally.
After coming into effect, the lounges are supposed to open by the end of 2021 and starting of 2022.
Adult residents are allowed to possess up to one-ounce cannabis.
If the state’s adult residents live 25 miles away from the dispensary, they can grow six plants per home for personal use.
However, the dispensary in the state got opened in the year 2017, and more legalized stores are expected to open soon for smooth delivery of cannabis products to the needy ones.
Weed for medical patients has been legal in Nevada since 2000; however, the first commercial distribution was made possible in 2013.
Further, the state takes MMR cards for distributing medical weed to the patients.
Michigan And Vermont – in 2018
Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act passed with 56% of votes in 2018 legalizing recreational cannabis in the state.
Vermont also legalized marijuana in the same year.
Therefore, adult residents (aged 21 or above) of Michigan can legally possess, share, and grow cannabis from 2018.
However, the first store for legal sale opened in late 2019.
Medical cannabis in Michigan was already legal before recreational allowance.
However, the state’s legal operation and regulation of dispensaries occurred when Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill to reform cannabis dispensaries operating under the legal gray area before.
Possession of adult-use marijuana in Michigan is allowed up to 2.5 ounces in public and 10 ounces at home.
The recreational dispensary opened for the first time in the state in December 2019.
As an adult resident, you can grow up to 12 plants per home for personal use.
Patients qualifying under the law can grow up to 12 plants for treatment purposes.
Illinois – in 2019
Illinois was the eleventh and first U.S. state to legalize marijuana by an act of state legislature in 2019, effective from Jan 2020.
The state’s legalization and retail sales of cannabis have drastically surged government revenue.
Marijuana sales are generating average revenue of $40 million.
The state also expanded its Medical Marijuana Program for the patients making it to over 1,50,000+ qualifying patients being enrolled in the program.
Additionally, the state has also made it possible to open around 110 dispensaries across the state to provide medical cannabis.
If you are 21 or above residing in Illinois, then you can possess up to 30 grams of marijuana, 500mg of THC infused products, or up to 5 grams of concentrates.
Growing cannabis in Illinois is allowed to 5 plants per home only. Further, you must keep the plants in a locked room without the reach of minors residing in the house.
Even the landlord can also ban the cultivation of marijuana to the renters if needed.
In the case of medical patients, the landlord can not prohibit them from growing cannabis plants. However, the patient must have a medical card for that.
Further, a patient can also purchase cannabis from the nearest dispensary.
Arizona, New Jersey, and Montana – in 2020
Arizona prohibited cannabis following the nationwide trend in the early 20th century.
And until the late 90s, the state could not legalize even medical marijuana. However, attempts were made but failed every time or could not succeed ultimately.
In 2010, Arizona finally legalized medical weed for qualifying patients to access weed from the nearest dispensaries.
The authorities kept the initial limitation for opening dispensaries to 124. Additionally, patients living far from the dispensary can grow their cannabis plants.
After that, Proposition 205 in 2016, an attempt to legalize recreational cannabis, happened in the state, which somehow failed with 48.7% of votes.
Finally, four years later, the state came into the list of the U.S. states with legalized recreational cannabis for adult use in 2020.
The Smart And Safe Act permitted the adult residents of Arizona to possess cannabis for personal use.
New Jersey and Montana also legalized recreational cannabis in 2020.
The marijuana possession limit in Arizona for adult residents is one ounce. Exceeding the limit can lead to various penalties.
Adults are allowed to cultivate up to six plants in their homes.
Medical Cannabis in Arizona:
Medical patients can possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for treatment purposes.
Patients can also grow their weed plants under the medical marijuana program.
New York – in 2021
New York first banned cannabis in the early 20th century in 1914.
Further, it took years for the state to partially decriminalize marijuana in 1977 when authorities inflicted minor possession with a $100 fine.
Finally, the first positive step in favor of marijuana enthusiasts happened in 2014 when New York made medical marijuana legal.
The legislation allowed medical patients for non-smoking methods of cannabis consumption.
Further, state lawmakers tried to legalize recreational marijuana now. However, the attempts failed until March 2021, when Governor Cuomo signed the bill allowing recreational use of cannabis.
Also, the marijuana convictions and criminal records got expunged under the new law.
The possession limit for recreational use of cannabis is permitted up to 3 ounces for New Yorkers.
Additionally, marijuana remains strictly prohibited for the underage population. And sharing with minors can lead to heavy legal consequences.
Marijuana cultivation for recreational use purposes is allowed in the state with a limit of 6 plants per household (three mature at a time).
However, businesses for marijuana sales in the state have to follow the guidelines accordingly.
Medical Cannabis in New York:
Medical weed is legal for medical use for the residents of Maine.
Patients under various qualifying conditions can access a 30-day supply of infused cannabis products of non-smokeable methods.
Medical patients can even grow up to six plants in their private homes for medical use.
Virginia – in 2021
Virginia is one of the states that legalized weed in 2021 after the ballot measure, positively favoring marijuana enthusiasts.
Governor Ralph Northam pushed the usage of recreational marijuana legally in July 2021, which was supposed to roll out in 2023.
Thankfully, now Virginians can access cannabis and its by-products like other states.
However, there are very few dispensaries and businesses on the marijuana map of the state, which hopefully will increase within time.
As of now, only around four new dispensaries have been opened in the state. However, the government is seeking to open more dispensaries for the after-legalization opportunities in the market.
Cannabis possession is permitted to one ounce in Virginia by adult residents. However,
Growing recreational marijuana is legal, and therefore, you can grow up to four plants in your home.
Remember, exceeding the limit can still lead to some legal consequences.
Medical Cannabis in Virginia:
Virginians can buy medical cannabis products such as cannabis oil, concentrated cannabis, extracts, and other by-products from the legalized cannabis dispensaries in the state.
The marijuana industry is boosting the state as the first dispensary was established in August 2020.
Soon, the residents will be able to witness a lot of opportunities either for growing marijuana commercially.
New Mexico – in 2021
New Mexico became the state to legalize marijuana in April 2021 after Cannabis Regulation Act. In June, the law took effect in the state, and adult use of cannabis got allowed to the residents.
However, the retail sales of recreational cannabis will initiate from April 2022.
Further, another legislature approved the expungement of past convictions for offenses that became legal now in the new law.
If you are an adult aged 21 years or above and residing in New Mexico, you are allowed to possess up to two ounces of cannabis for personal use without any fines or legal trouble.
Also, up to 16 grams of cannabis extracts are permitted to keep by an adult in the state. Exceeding the limit will lead to a misdemeanor punishable by a monetary fine between $500 to $1000.
New Mexico residents can grow six plants per household for personal use. Exceeding the growing limit will lead to felony and further convictions.
Medical Cannabis Law in New Mexico:
New Mexico has one of the most relaxing medical marijuana laws. The limit for medical marijuana possession is set to 8 ounces for 90 days.
If not sufficient, home cultivation of weed plants is also permitted with a limit of 16 plants in which growers can keep four mature plants in the home.
While accessing weed, licensed dispensaries are there in the state.
Connecticut – in 2021
Connecticut legalized recreational cannabis for adult use on June 22, 2021, when governor Ned Lamont signed SB1201.
However, the law came into effect on July 1, and the marijuana enthusiasts in the state were allowed to possess cannabis. In contrast, retail sales of marijuana will begin this summer, hopefully.
Additionally, low-level marijuana offenses also got removed entirely after the new law.
Further, the government has decided to help the communities suffering from drug wars by the tax revenue of marijuana businesses.
Remember, adult use is allowed for people of age 21 or above. And therefore, if anyone aged between 18 to 20 is found using cannabis, a monetary fine of $100 will be imposed.
For people under 18 years of age, cops are not supposed to arrest them for simple cannabis possession.
If you are 21 or above, you can possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis for private consumption. Any amount more significant than that limit will lead to legal consequences.
However, no public consumption is allowed.
Cities and towns with over 50,000 population need to designate a specific area for public marijuana consumption to the authorities.
Growing marijuana plants for recreational purposes in Connecticut will take effect from 2023.
However, medical patients aged 18 and above can grow up to six plants (three mature and three immature) per household.
The upper limit for growing marijuana plants is set to 12. And no plant should be visible from the street or public view.
Medical Marijuana in Connecticut:
Medical marijuana patients aged 18 and above can access marijuana up to 2.5 ounces for medical purposes.
However, the patient must qualify for the medical condition mentioned in the official notification.
Further, the patient has to submit the certification to the Department of Consumer Protection, which regulates medical marijuana in the state.
States Where Marijuana is Not Fully Legal
South Dakota – Medically Legalized State From 2021
Despite most U.S. states allowing cannabis in either of its forms, these are the states where marijuana is still a regulated substance under state law.
South Dakota has allowed medical marijuana as of July 1, 2021. However, recreational use of cannabis remains illegal.
However, before that, South Dakota was the only U.S state that entirely made weed illegal under the Controlled Substances Act.
Historically, the state has illegalized marijuana since 1931. When in 19, short-lived decriminalization happened but not for much time.
Fast forward, the authorities have consistently tried to legalize medical cannabis by ballot initiative in the years 2006 and 2010, which got failed.
Though the authorities tried again to decriminalize and allow medical use of cannabis in the state in years 2015 and 2017, that also could not succeed, somehow.
Finally, the year 2020 was bliss for marijuana lovers.
The medical use of cannabis got legalized, which came into effect on July 1, 2021.
However, recreational marijuana remains illegal in the state. For example, South Dakota has partially allowed cannabis for medical use, which the authorities need to work a lot to make it work efficiently.
South Carolina – Only Low-THC CBD Oil Allowed
Being one of the states with the strictest laws for cannabis, even though neighbor states legalize weed, South Carolina doesn’t let you access recreational marijuana in the region.
AFTER THE PHYSICIAN’S RECOMMENDATION, low THC CBD oil is approved for specific medical conditions.
Marijuana Legalization in the U.S.: Conclusion
The U.S. had a strict attitude towards marijuana initially in the earlier 20th century.
However, the nation has positively shifted its behavior towards cannabis from the past few decades, resulting in medical and personal use legalization.
Still, in 2022, not all federal prosecutors are happy with that.
That is why nationwide at the federal level, marijuana is still illegal despite various states have allowed it.
Also, the laws consistently got updated and changed accordingly.
Therefore, you must check the latest local laws of the region whether it allows you for cannabis activities.
Once you have legal permission, you can proceed with getting high!