Marijuana legalization is happening across the country.
Whereas many states — as of this writing, 23 states plus Washington, DC — have legalized marijuana for medical use, more and more have also legalized (or have ballot measures to legalize) recreational marijuana for personal use as well.
At the same time, many other states have simply decriminalized marijuana possession, up to certain amounts; that means that if you are caught with marijuana in those states (usually up to one ounce), then you will face consequences generally equated with a minor traffic offense, and not the jail time you might have once expected.
Of course, we think this is a great thing! We love progress in this direction. However, until it is legal in all 50 states, if you are a marijuana patient or recreational user, it is important that you understand that status of marijuana legalization in your state as well as any states you visit.
In this post, we will give you a quick rundown of marijuana legalization in the United States, as well as advice and tips to help you keep up to date with marijuana laws no matter where you travel or visit.
Medical marijuana legalization
Cannabis has so many medical properties that help people with all kinds of ailments feel better and live more active lives. Patients have found relief with cannabis for diseases that span from depression to cancer to multiple sclerosis, and many more in between. It can help relieve or reduce pain, increase appetite, reduce anxiety, aid in sleep, ease nausea, and help with seizures, spasms, and digestive disorders too.
As more people (especially legislators) learn that cannabis has such meaningful medical benefits, more and more states have gotten on board with medical marijuana legalization.
Below are the states that currently have legalized marijuana for medical use, and the amounts you can legally have in each state.
Alaska: 1 ounce, 6 plants (3 immature, 3 mature)
Arizona: 2.5 ounces, up to 12 plants
California: 8 ounces, 6 mature plants or 12 immature plants
Colorado: 2 ounces, 6 plants (3 immature, 3 mature)
Connecticut: A one-month supply
Delaware: 6 ounces
Hawaii: 3 ounces, 7 plants (4 immature, 3 mature)
Illinois: 2.5 ounces per period of 14 days
Maine: 2.5 ounces, 6 plants
Maryland: 30-day supply
Massachusetts: 60-day supply
Michigan: 2.5 ounces, 12 plants
Minnesota: 30-day supply of non-smokeable marijuana
Montana: 1 ounce, 4 plants, 12 seedlings
Nevada: 1 ounce, 7 plants (4 immature, 3 mature)
New Hampshire: 2 ounces per 10-day period
New Jersey: 2 ounces
New Mexico: 6 ounces, (12 immature, 4 mature)
New York: 30-day supply of non-smokeable marijuana
Oregon: 24 ounces, 24 plants (18 immature, 6 mature)
Rhode Island: 2.5 ounces, 12 plants
Vermont: 2 ounces, 9 plants (7 immature, 2 mature)
Washington: 24 ounces, 15 plants
Washington, DC: 2 ounces
Note: if you are planning to travel to these states, be aware that 20 out of these 23 states require proof of residency for medical marijuana use, and only Oregon has explicitly stated that they would accept applications from out-of-state patients.
This means just because medical marijuana may be legal in the state you’re going to, it may not be legal for you to shop at just any dispensary if you’re not an official resident. Check out the details with the state before your visit.
Recreational marijuana legalization
Recreational marijuana legalization has happened in 4 states. This means that in addition to medical patients, adults are allowed to have marijuana on their person for their own personal use (medical or otherwise). Here is the breakdown of each state’s recreational marijuana legalization rules:
Alaska: anyone over 21 years old can possess up to 1 ounce and 6 plants
Colorado: anyone over 21 years old can possess up to 1 ounce and 6 plants
Oregon: anyone over 21 can possess up to 8 ounces in their home, 1 ounce outside the home, and up to 4 plants
Washington: anyone over 21 years old can possess 1 ounce of unprocessed marijuana, up to 16 ounces of infused products in solid form, or up to 72 ounces of infused products in liquid form
In these states, marijuana has many of the same restrictions as alcohol in that most states require that you only use it in a private space or home (as in, not in public, outside a bar or at your local park) and that you may not drive a car while under the influence.
As with the medical marijuana laws, the regulations do tend to vary state by state, so it’s important to understand what is legal and where. In addition, several states have recreational marijuana legalization coming up on their ballots for 2015 and 2016, so the rules may change sometime soon — always check and see if there’s news in your home state or the state you might be traveling to!
Decriminalized marijuana legislation
In states where marijuana has been decriminalized, it’s not technically legal for you to possess marijuana — but you won’t get in much trouble, either, as long as you don’t have a large amount on you if you are stopped.
Most marijuana-related offenses in states where it has been decriminalized equate roughly to a minor traffic violation. Typically that means, if it’s your first offense and you’ve got (usually) less than one ounce on you, there will be no arrest, prison time, or criminal record.
The following states have decriminalized marijuana possession (you’ll notice many of these states are the same ones that have legalized medical marijuana, except for Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Ohio):
Understanding marijuana legalization can keep you smart and safe
There’s a lot of information to keep track of, but understanding where marijuana legalization and decriminalization has occurred can keep you safe when you’re traveling as a patient. Before your next trip, check out this list and any local government sites of the location’s you’re planning to visit. Make sure you understand the rules so you can medicate and enjoy freely.