America’s Most Outdated Weed Laws

Outdated weed laws
Jennifer Bui/Thrillist

Attitudes toward smoking weed might be beginning to modernize, but that doesn’t mean the laws of the land have caught up with them. Turns out, in some states, the fine for smoking a joint is the same as the fine for wrestling a goddamned bear. Which is to say, there are some pretty outdated cannabis laws out there. These are the places where Reefer Madness seems to dictate legislation.


Sell any amount of any kind of cannabis in this place and you’ll face at least two years in prison, the same amount you’d get if also convicted of bear wrestling. Leonardo DiCaprio should stay far, far away from this state.


Every cannabis-related “crime” in this state is a felony, meaning jail time for everyone from joint smokers to drug kingpins. Possessing also dab rig can trigger a $150k fine, and cutting down a cactus could net you 25 years in the slammer. So, don't dab with a hand-saw in the desert.


In the state most-known for cannabis, it’s a felony to sell marijuana to anyone. Do so and you’ll spend 2-4 years in jail and be fined whatever the judge determines is fair. While in jail, it’s also now illegal (yep, it wasn’t before) for prison workers to have sex with inmates, contrary to what all those Hollywood prison movies taught us.


The peach tree people have made abandoning cannabis in public a misdemeanor with a possible one-year jail stint and $1,000 fine, but distributing a marijuana-flavored product with only get you fined half that much. But before you think about making a weed-flavored dildo, realize that sex toys are illegal in the parts of the state.


Hoosiers love their basketball, but based on them making “presence where knowledge of drug activity occurs” a misdemeanor with a $1k fine and year in jail attached, maybe not so much their cannabis. Be sure not to carry a pipe in your pocket here, as it’s illegal for a man to be aroused in public, even if he just watched someone catch a fish with their bare hands -- which is also against the law.


In the state where Mardi Gras will forever be a thing, distributing a few joints is a mandatory minimum jail sentence of five years, plus a fine of up to $50k. While you're contemplating that, be also warned that “fake” wrestling or boxing is illegal, which sorta makes us wonder what kind if they’ve seen Monday Night Raw ever. Even worse, mocking a boxer during a match is against the law, even if that boxer has an illegal pre-fight ritual that includes ingesting blood, urine, or fecal matter.


This state penalizes possession of quantities of one-tenth to two grams of concentrates, or about a good night’s worth with two stoners, with at least two years in the pen. They also passed a law against nutritional labeling, so good luck knowing what’s in whatever it is you’re eating.


Selling anything less than 100lbs of cannabis in the casino capital of the world will get you a minimum of one year in jail and fined $5k. The penalties are the same for flower, hash, and concentrates, so go big or not at all.

smoking a joint

New York

In the Big Apple, it’s a misdemeanor to have even a joint in public view, and could net you up to 90 days in jail. And don’t sesh on Halloween, as congregating with two or more people while wearing masks could also get you arrested.

North Carolina

The Tar heels will charge you with a felony punishable by three to eight years in prison if you sell to a pregnant woman and if you’re caught with weed while in the penal system. They’ll add 4-8 months to your sentence. Even worse, you’ll have to pay taxes on that weed at the rate of $.40 per gram for stems and stalk and $3.50 per ounce of flower. That may sound really stupid, but this state has also made it illegal to use climate change science when community planning.


In the Lone Star state, it’s a misdemeanor to “sell” seven grams or less for “no renumeration,” so maybe don’t pass that joint. Don’t try and sell your eye either, as that’s also explicitly outlawed, right along with owning more than six dildos.

West Virginia

This prohibitionist state will throw cannabis users in jail from 90 days to six months for possessing any amount of flower. Sell or traffic any amount of weed in or into the state? Minimum of one year in jail. Thankfully, the politicians making those laws have never participated in a duel, which would lawfully disqualify them from office.


Grow four or fewer plants in the land of cheese and get caught? You’ll face up to three and a half years in the slammer. Roll a massive joint and wave it around? That’s a class A misdemeanor. Rest assured that you’ll always have butter at your table though, as substituting margarine or anything similar is against the law if not specifically requested by the dining party.


Being high in public can net a person 90 days in jail and a $100 fine, not a great look for the Equal Rights state. Probably a good idea to never, ever attend a concert in Wyoming.

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Tyler Hurst once wrote a story that produced eight death threats, three client threats, one public encounter, an online impersonator, 2,000 words of insults, and five-plus months of reader reaction. Follow him to vitriol @tdhurst.