Puff, Puff, Passed: The Progress Toward Legal Weed In All 50 States
RED STATES, BLUE STATES, PURPLE STATES... in 2020, one thing most of us can agree on is the need for more green states. Support for marijuana legalization is at an all-time high (puns!) with two-thirds of Americans in favor. States are moving cannabis laws forward -- some of them slow, some of them fast.
Nine years ago, medical marijuana was legal in only 17 states and the District of Columbia; recreational marijuana was legal in zero states and zero Districts of Columbia. Today, medical marijuana programs are on the books in 33 states, and the 11 best states allow some degree of recreational use. For the first few years the West Coast set the pace, and then New England began making moves, too -- even some red states, once GOP politicians began seeing the tax windfall enjoyed by trailblazers (more puns!) like Colorado and Washington, are suddenly of the opinion that marijuana is not quite so bad.
Welcome to the State of the Cannabis Union 2020, your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about which states are stacking hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue by legalizing and/or not imprisoning non-violent drug users, and which states are… not. As voters and state legislatures adapt, we’ll update this story and the map accordingly.
Before we light up here (so sorry), a quick primer on some terminology -- don’t worry, this isn’t for a test, unless you count the possibility that you misjudge your state’s laws and do in fact end up in prison. In that sense, yes it is for a test.
Eleven states and DC have, to varying degrees, seen the light in allowing residents to get lit. But contrary to what at least one of you currently reading this believes, “legal” recreational weed does not mean, like, fully and unconditionally legalized blazing in the streets in front of God and everyone. Usually it means that if you are over the age of 21, it’s fine to keep modest amounts on your person or in your home, maybe grow a couple of plants, and occasionally smoke in public. You might recognize such rules from your dealings with a similar legal recreational substance, “alcohol.”
Thirty-three states now have medical marijuana programs, but not all are currently operational and some only cover a limited range of medical conditions. Many states without medical legislation still allow for limited use of CBD -- aka cannabidiol, the cannabis compound that has a huge variety of medical properties but is not psychoactive (i.e. it doesn’t get you high, unlike its better-known counterpart THC). CBD is widely used to help manage epilepsy and ease symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, and nausea.
A lot of breadth and nuance can be contained in the term “decriminalized,” but basically it means no jail time. The state in question hasn’t legalized recreational marijuana, but it has made possession of small amounts (usually 1 ounce or less) punishable by, at worst, a citation and a fine, not criminal charges and prison. Some states still classify it as a misdemeanor, but removing the threat of incarceration is an important step, since for years this country has been throwing people in prison for carrying as little as a single joint -- with black Americans four times more likely to be arrested as white ones, despite equal rates of marijuana usage. Some decriminalized states also have medical marijuana programs.
Alabama -- Illegal
Starting off on the opposite of a high note (last joke, I swear, probably) possession of literally one single joint in Alabama is punishable by up to a year in prison. A lot of people are arrested and charged with possession these days, but few are actually convicted -- those who are convicted, though, are overwhelmingly black men. A medical marijuana program would be an excellent way for Alabama to begin making reparations for Jeff Sessions (born: Selma; died: TBD), but don’t hold your breath. Carly’s Law does permit low-extract CBD (meaning it contains less than 3% THC) to treat severe epilepsy in children age 5 or younger.
Alaska -- Recreational
The fourth state to legalize recreational weed, right alongside Oregon and also DC back in 2014. The caveats: You have to be 21 or older to buy from dispensaries, and the legislation only allows for possession of 1 ounce or less. Any more than that is a misdemeanor; 4 ounces or more is a felony. No growing more than three mature plants (no more than six total). No smoking in public, either. In 2019, Alaska became the first state to legalize smoking on-site at dispensaries.
Arizona -- Medicinal
It remains a straight felony in Arizona to possess any amount of recreational weed, but the state does have a robust medical-cannabis economy, with around 130 dispensaries serving some 160,000 patients. Patients with any of a dozen or so conditions -- such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and chronic pain -- can legally possess up to 2.5 ounces. Arizona was the 35th state to legalize hemp (containing 0.3% THC or less). In March 2019, the state rejected a bill to legalize medicinal edibles.
Arkansas -- Medicinal
It remains a straight felony in Arizona to possess any amount of recreational weed, but the state does have a robust medical-cannabis economy serving nearly 200,000 patients. Patients with any of a dozen or so conditions -- such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and chronic pain -- can legally possess up to 2.5 ounces. Arizona was the 35th state to legalize hemp (containing 0.3% THC or less). In 2019, the state rejected a bill to legalize medicinal edibles. There’s currently a campaign underway to legalize recreational marijuana through a voter referendum.
California -- Recreational
For my 20th birthday, when I was at school in California, a friend used his medicinal card (he was very* sick**) to get me a brownie I was told would get me weird for about six hours. I ate two-thirds of the thing and was high for -- and this is factual -- a day and a half. Have you guys been high on one single thing for a day and a half? Because this was a first for me. Like, I had stuff to do the next morning! I had to meet with a TA!
(*not **remotely sick in any way.)
Afroman was born here, and it’s now normal to bring edibles to a dinner party than a bottle of wine, but unless you're a dispensary, it is still a misdemeanor to sell any amount of recreational weed in Cali (no penalties for gifting though! So long as it’s under 28.5 grams). Still, it’s legal for adults 21 or older to possess up to 1 ounce and to grow as many as six plants. As for California’s medical marijuana program, you can grow as many plants as it takes to meet your individual medical needs.
Colorado -- Recreational
I lived in Colorado for 18 years and all of them were before the state legalized in 2012. I resent this, because I was not cool in high school and did not know cool people from whom I could acquire supercool drugs like weed. These days, you can drive down Broadway and pass a dispensary every other block. Today’s children will never know.
Legally, you must be 21 or older to possess your allotted quantity of recreational marijuana (1 ounce). But it is legal to transfer it (i.e. share it around with friends for no financial compensation), which is not necessarily the case in other states. Those using it for a medical condition can have up to 2 ounces, plus grow up to six plants (three of them mature). In 2019, our new governor approved some looser business restrictions, including for marijuana tasting rooms.
Connecticut -- Medicinal and Decriminalized
Connecticut is so close to recreational weed! But also, it has been for a minute now. Still, the state has already taken the crucial step of decriminalizing marijuana for very small amounts. Possession of half an ounce or less is punishable by a fine of $150 (first offense) or $500 (subsequent offenses) but no jail time. Growing or distributing herb remains a felony. The state’s medical dispensaries currently serve around 37,000 patients.
Delaware -- Medicinal and Decriminalized
Fully legalized recreational marijuana is proving to be kind of a journey for Delaware. However, mere months after a push to legalize failed by just four votes, state legislators are already drafting a new bill. But for now at least the state has decriminalized possession of 1 ounce or less -- meaning no jail time and a fine of $100. The state has medical cannabis legislation allowing for possession of up to 6 ounces (no home-growing, though) and the number of registered patients has ballooned during the last couple of years.
Florida -- Medicinal
Weird™ is already Florida’s well-established brand, but it is still not a place where you can legally Get Weird™. Recreational possession of 20 grams or less (0.7 ounces; don’t act like you knew) is a misdemeanor that can land you in prison for a year. More than 20 grams is a felony -- five years, possibly more. In 2019, the state lifted its ban on smoking medical marijuana (as opposed to consuming it by other means). The state’s medical marijuana program currently serves more than 320,000 patients with any of a dozen or so qualifying conditions. No home-growing, though.
MORE: Check out Thrillist’s complete guide to how to get medicinal weed in Florida
Georgia -- Illegal
So, this is an odd one. Georgia does technically have medical marijuana legislation on the books, but we’re making a judgement call saying it’s still illegal because ... you can’t really do anything with that legislation at all. It’s CBD-specific, meaning patients can possess cannabis oils containing (in this case) no more than 5% THC.
It’s still illegal to buy marijuana, sell it, grow it, or import it from another state. Still no home-growing. Per state policy, recreational possession of 1 ounce or less is a misdemeanor; anything more than that is a felony. First-time offenders can usually opt for probation rather than jail time, so that’s something.
MORE: Here’s everything you need to know about weed in Georgia
Hawaii -- Medicinal
Some good news! Beginning January 11, 2020, the state of Hawaii decriminalized possession of marijuana in amounts under 3 grams. Rather than 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and potentially a criminal record, folks will face just a $130 fine. Recreational possession won’t get you a felony charge until you’re caught with at least a pound (though it remains a felony to sell or deliver more than 1 ounce). And first-time offenders who successfully make it through probation get a clean slate -- the state will expunge their record. Hawaii has an operational medical marijuana program serving more than 26,000 patients, who can grow up to seven plants (mature or otherwise).
Idaho -- Illegal
Weed is simply very illegal here. Possession of 3 ounces or less is a misdemeanor; more than 3 ounces is a felony. Since there’s no medical program on the books, those amounts correspond to the same charges whether you’re using it recreationally or not. Idaho is the only remaining state to not have any sort of legislation even acknowledging the existence of medical weed. There’s currently a petition circulating to legalize medicinal marijuana in 2020.
Illinois -- Recreational
On January 1, 2020, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize adult use of recreational marijuana. Congratulations to Illinois! Residents 21 and older can now freely purchase marijuana in amounts up to 1 ounce, but it’s still illegal to consume in public. Home-growing is still illegal unless you’re an enrolled medical patient, in which case you can have yourself five plants.
Indiana -- Illegal
Indiana is the cop that keeps rolling up on its neighbor (Illinois) whenever they have a party. Possession of up to 30 grams (slightly more than 1 ounce) is a misdemeanor (180 days in jail; $1,000 fine); possession of any greater amount is a felony for those with prior offenses. There’s a medical allowance for CBD containing less than 0.3% THC. A legalization bill died in 2019 after not receiving a committee hearing, though the state could still be inching towards legalized hemp. Encouragingly, in some cases small amounts are being decriminalized at the county level.
Iowa -- Medicinal
I have never been to Iowa and if you tell me it is a lovely place I will believe you, but it needs to get its shit together and stop demonizing medical marijuana (also any marijuana, but, y’know, gotta crawl before you can… light a joint in public).
Nearly 5,000 patients are enrolled, but the program has been hobbled by red tape and overregulation from the jump. Currently, the state allows medical CBD containing no more than 3% THC; you could make the argument that medical marijuana is basically still just illegal here. Most Iowans support a robust medical program and nearly half support recreational legalization, and yet possessing any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor (six months' jail time for even first-time offenders); growing or selling any amount is a felony. However, it’s also true that states invariably feel the pressure when a neighbor legalizes, since precious tax revenue is lost when residents simply drive a few miles across the border to procure what they can’t get at home. Now that Illinois has stepped up, Iowa’s timeline to legalization might be that much shorter.
Kansas -- Illegal
Hey, there was going to be a medical marijuana program here! But now there’s not. Possession of any amount less than 450 grams (a bit under 16 ounces) is a misdemeanor; more than 450 grams with intent to distribute is a felony. The reason Idaho is the last state to not acknowledge the medical benefits of cannabis is because Kansas, the second-to-last, saw the light in 2018. More than two-thirds of Kansans support the state having a medical marijuana program. Legislation allowing the state Department of Agriculture to cultivate hemp also went through in 2018, but that’s about all there is to say about Kansas at the moment.
Kentucky -- Illegal
In 2020, Kentucky is expected to present a new medical marijuana bill to the House. But for now, aside from some state-sponsored hemp research, weed is broadly illegal here. Growing fewer than five plants is a misdemeanor, while growing five or more is a felony. Possession of 8 ounces or less is a misdemeanor, though it’s worth mentioning that the charge carries a punishment of only 45 days in jail, which is... less than it is in some other states. It’s also widely accepted among Kentuckians that marijuana is likely the state’s most valuable cash crop, right beside tobacco.
Louisiana -- Medicinal
Louisiana does have a medical marijuana program that became active in 2019, but it remains extraordinarily restrictive. There are only nine licensed dispensaries in the entire state. Patients aren’t allowed to grow plants at home, and are only permitted to buy a 30-day supply in non-smokable form. On the plus side (?) first-time offenders in Louisiana charged with possession of 14 grams (a hair under half an ounce) or less only face 15 days’ jail time and a $300 fine.
Maine -- Recreational
If you are of legal drinking age, you are also of legal possessing-2.5-ounces-or-less-of-recreational-marijuana age. You may also grow up to three plants at home. Retail stores aren’t quite a thing yet, but the state is expected to finally unveil them in 2020. The cap for medical usage is 2.5 ounces, with home-growing limited to six mature plants. The state has a solid medical program with dispensaries servings more than 45,000 registered patients.
Maryland -- Medicinal and Decriminalized
Maryland has decriminalized recreational possession for amounts less than 10 grams (so, just over one-third of an ounce). Anything more is still a misdemeanor, but you’ll need to be caught packing a full 50 pounds (not a typo) to be charged with a felony. The medical legislation doesn’t allow home-growing (or, oddly, edibles), but state-licensed dispensaries are open and currently serving nearly 100,000 patients. Most residents support legal weed but, at its current pace, 2020 still won’t be the year for Maryland.
Massachusetts -- Recreational
The state’s first retail shops opened in late 2018 -- there are currently 33, with more on the way. Those of you in Massachusetts age 21 and up can legally possess 1 ounce of bud and keep up to 10 ounces at home. Home-growers can have up to six plants. The medical program allows for a maximum of 35 dispensaries, which currently serve nearly 60,000 registered patients.
MORE: Everything you need to know about legal weed in Massachusetts
Michigan -- Recreational
In late 2018, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize recreational grass. In late 2019, retail shops finally opened for business. Still, possession of more than 5 ounces is a misdemeanor on the first offense. “Sale without remuneration,” meaning sharing your stash, comes with a $500 fine for amounts between 2.5 and 5 ounces, and any sale that’s actually a sale is a felony. You can cultivate up to 12 plants with no legal or financial ramifications. But Michigan’s medical marijuana program allows for registered patients -- of which there are more than 280,000 -- to carry up to 2.5 ounces of weed.
Minnesota -- Medicinal and Decriminalized
There is cool shit to do in Minnesota, but legally lighting up is not yet among them unless you have a medical license. The state’s medicinal program, serving around 18,000 patients, is relatively modest -- only a 30-day supply at a time, no smoking, no home-growing. Recreational possession of an amount equal to or less than 1.5 ounces is technically a misdemeanor, but carries no jail time (just a $200 fine). A new legalization bill is expected to move to the House in 2020.
Mississippi -- Decriminalized
The state has decriminalized possession of up to 1 ounce for first-time offenders. No jail time, $250 fine. Right now there’s only a CBD-specific (no more than 0.5% THC) allowance for qualifying conditions like severe epilepsy -- no real medical program. But Mississippians do want to enact medical marijuana legislation, and 2020 could be the year they get to vote on a ballot initiative to do so.
Missouri -- Medicinal and Decriminalized
Missouri legalized medicinal marijuana in 2018, after having already permitted low-THC CBD for certain conditions, and -- bonus! -- state-sponsored hemp research. This is a state where you can purchase an entire meal made out of donuts, so one might say the state’s reluctance to legalize recreational weed is hurting small businesses. There’s a hefty fine, but no jail time for first-time offenders carrying up to 10 grams (about one-third of an ounce). For a second offense, or for up to 35 grams (about 1.25 ounces) the misdemeanor charge comes with a possible one-year sentence. Possession of larger amounts is a felony, and potentially gets you seven years in prison. 2020 still doesn’t look to be the year for recreational weed here, but that neighborly pressure of Illinois’ shiny new legalization will start applying to Missouri, too.
Montana -- Medicinal
Have you been to Montana? It is beautiful, and one day Montanans (yup) will be able to smoke freely in nature. Just not yet. Getting caught with up to 60 grams (a little over 2 ounces) can get first-time offenders six months in prison and a $500 fine; that spikes to three years and $1,000 for the next offense, and any amount greater than 60 grams is a felony -- possible five-year sentence, $50,000 fine. Registered medical marijuana users, of which Montana has more than 31,000, can cultivate up to four mature plants plus four seedlings at home.
Nebraska -- Decriminalized
… but just barely. First-time offenders caught with 1 ounce or less face a $300 fine and no jail time, but second and third offenses for the same amount can carry sentences of five and seven days, respectively (plus $500 fines). The minimum for a felony charge -- five years in prison, $10,000 fine -- is 1 pound, or the sale of any amount whatsoever. But Nebraska did legalize hemp in 2019, and 2020 might see a medical marijuana program on the state ballot.
Nevada -- Recreational
Nevada sure took its time loosening up its weed laws, but now we’re in business: adults 21 and up are clear to carry 1 ounce of recreational weed. More than that is a misdemeanor, which means a $600 fine but no jail time; same as smoking in public. You can also share up to 1 ounce with no penalties, but anything greater jumps to a felony charge. The medical program serves more than 17,000 registered patients, who are permitted to carry up to 2.5 ounces and grow as many as 12 mature plants (depending on how far from dispensaries they happen to live). This state loves to tax vice (and Californians), so when you visit, bring your physician’s medical approval letter (even a smartphone photo counts) and you could get some sweet medical discounts.
MORE: Everything you need to know about legal weed in Nevada
New Hampshire -- Medicinal and Decriminalized
Legal weed legislation here came close in 2019, and is expected to circulate again in 2020. A tiny holdout surrounded by weed-legalized neighbors, New Hampshire crossing the finish line to recreational use is just a matter of time. For now, New Hampshire enjoys decriminalized possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce for first and second offenses -- $100 fine, no jail time. Sale, or even possession with intent to sell, is automatically a felony charge no matter the amount or track record. The state’s medical marijuana legislation allows for registered patients, of which there are more than 7,000 with a wide range of qualifying conditions, to carry up to 2 ounces. No home-growing, though.
New Jersey -- Medicinal
Recreational usage is on the horizon here, too. In November 2020, New Jersey residents will have the chance to vote on an amendment that would legalize weed for adults 21 and up. For the moment, possession of up to 50 grams (about 1.75 ounces) carries a charge of “disorderly person,” which means six months’ jail time and a $1,000 fine. The state’s medical marijuana program serves more than 50,000 patients and recognizes a number of qualifying conditions, but limits possession to 3 ounces per month. No home-growing.
New Mexico -- Medicinal and Decriminalized
Things are looking bright for New Mexico to legalize recreational marijuana in 2020. Can’t blame you if you wanna get a little silly before you go to Meow Wolf. New Mexico has already decriminalized weed in amounts up to half an ounce, though distribution of any amount still carries a felony charge. The medical legislation is more generous, recognizing more than two dozen conditions including PTSD, anorexia, and arthritis, and allowing for 8 ounces every 90 days. Registered patients, of which there are now more than 77,000, can grow as many as 16 plants at home so long as only four are mature at the same time.
New York -- Medicinal and Decriminalized
You guys, we are … so close … but ... no. Living in New York can be stressful, so perhaps it’s no surprise its residents consume more weed than any other city on Earth: 77.44 metric tons a year, twice as much as LA and 12 times more than the Mile-High City of Denver. One of the perks of living here is that I can order moderately overpriced weed from a service that delivers straight into my living room about as easily as I can order from Seamless -- it’s just not legal.
The state of New York has now decriminalized possession of amounts under 28 grams (a little less than an ounce). First-time offenders face a $50 fine; for the second time, $200. Sharing one joint, or an amount under 2 grams, is a misdemeanor with an accompanying penalty of three months’ jail time and a $500 fine. There’s no home-growing under any circumstances -- you can face up to a year in prison if caught -- and the medical legislation here is confined to non-smokable forms of weed. Nearly 100,000 patients are registered.
MORE: Everything you need to know about legal weed in New York City
North Carolina -- Decriminalized
North Carolina has decriminalized cannabis in amounts up to half an ounce, though that’s still a misdemeanor carrying a $200 fine. Sale and/or cultivation of any kind is a felony, as one would expect in a state with a massive tobacco lobby. The state allows low-THC CBD for intractable epilepsy, but does not give patients anywhere to buy it. While several campaigns for a full-fledged medical marijuana program have formed over the years, nothing’s managed to get past the state legislature.
North Dakota -- Medicinal and Decriminalized
North Dakota’s first medical cannabis dispensary opened in March 2019, though it allows for no more than eight dispensaries across the state. In May 2019, North Dakota became the 25th state to decriminalize possession of marijuana in small amounts. You can now carry up to .5 ounces without fear of jail time, though that still comes with a hefty $1,000 fine. Sale of any amount is a felony, as is possession of any amount within 1,000 feet of a school.
Ohio -- Medicinal and Decriminalized
In 2019, state-licensed dispensaries at last opened their doors. Ohio’s medical marijuana program now serves more than 57,000 patients. The state had already decriminalized weed in amounts up to 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) -- a misdemeanor charge that comes with a $150 fine, but at least no jail time. Double that amount and things start to get dicey, and anything above 200 grams is felony territory -- a year or more in prison and a fine of at least $2,500.
Oklahoma -- Medicinal
Oklahoma was already in my residual good graces because they built a boat district with a dope whitewater rafting course in the middle of their capital city, but in late 2018 they unveiled a medicinal cannabis program that's among the most liberal in the country. There's no restrictive list of qualifying medical conditions, which has allowed more than 178,000 patients to enroll. And unlike a lot of other states where commercial rollout can stay stuck in limbo for months or years after a ballot measure is approved, Oklahoma hit the ground running, with hundreds of dispensaries springing up across the state almost overnight. No luck on decriminalization so far though. Possession of any amount gets you a 1-year sentence and $1,000 fine.
Oregon -- Recreational
God bless Oregon, legalizer of Satan’s spinach (some of these are my editor’s fault please don’t yell at me) since 2014. There’s no fine and no jail time in the Beaver State for carrying up to 1 ounce of weed; up to 2 ounces means a $650 fine, but jail time doesn’t kick in until the amount is greater than that. Green thumbs can grow up to four plants at home without risking any fine or penalty,; for registered medicinal users, those numbers jump to 24 ounces and up to six plants, plus 18 seedlings. And dispensaries are everywhere, so even if you're a brown thumb, you'll have no problems finding what you need.
Pennsylvania -- Medicinal
Pennsylvania’s medical program covers around two dozen conditions and currently serves around 116,000 registered patients from up to 50 dispensaries. But they can’t grow their own plants at home, and are only permitted to keep a month’s supply of weed around at a time. Which is why even prescription holders tend to resort to less legal methods to get bud in Pennsylvania. Legalization bills have so far failed to make it past the House, but the pressure is building.
Rhode Island -- Medicinal and Decriminalized
Lest all of RISD’s student population end up in the clink, Rhode Island has decriminalized amounts up to 1 ounce. Sales and cultivation still carry felony charges. More than 18,000 patients are registered under the state’s medical marijuana program, which allows them to legally carry up to 2.5 ounces and cultivate up to 12 plants and 12 seedlings at home, under the right conditions. A new proposal to legalize recreational marijuana is expected in early 2020.
South Carolina -- Illegal
Shocking somewhere between zero and zero people, first-time offenders in South Carolina caught with 1 ounce of weed or less face 30 days’ jail time and a $200 fine. If you get caught again after that, it’s one year and $2,000. All sales are felonies, all forms of cultivation are felonies… you get the idea. There is a medical allowance for low-THC CBD, but that’s really it.
South Dakota -- Illegal
South Dakota is one of the most underrated states in some respects, definitely the more underrated Dakota, but it continues to be extremely racist when it comes to enforcing marijuana policy. Right now, possession of less than 2 ounces is a misdemeanor -- one year in prison and a $2,000 fine -- and anything more is a felony. Sales are all felonies if the amount is greater than half an ounce (misdemeanors for anything less). But 2019 saw a lot of momentum for legal weed in SD, and campaigns could pick up even more speed in 2020.
Tennessee -- Illegal
Tennessee is against Netflix (using someone else’s account, anyway, but for most of you bums that’s the same thing), so I suppose it follows that state legislators are also against chill. Even half an ounce here is a misdemeanor that’ll get first-time offenders a one-year sentence and a $250 fine. Sale of any amount is a felony, cultivation of any amount is a felony -- Tennessee is not fucking around. The state has had several recent pushes for a medical marijuana program, but hasn’t managed to stick the landing yet. The state does allow for some hemp and CBD.
Texas -- Illegal
Texas produced weed aficionado Willie Nelson, and so far that is the extent of its legacy in terms of normalizing marijuana. The Lone Star State got some buzz in 2015 when it passed the Compassionate Use Act -- but don’t get too excited. The highly restrictive law only permits medical CBD containing trace amounts of THC for intractable epilepsy, and intractable epilepsy only. Other than that, pot laws in Texas are about what you’d expect from one of the most conservative legislatures in the nation. Possession of just 2 ounces or less gets you a 180-day sentence and a $2,000 fine.
Utah -- Medicinal
Utah approved medical cannabis in late 2018, though the program isn’t particularly expansive. There aren’t even any state-licensed dispensaries. The state of Utah does generously allow the state of Utah to grow hemp. Thanks, state of Utah. But the price for getting caught with weed here (even less than 1 ounce) starts at $1,000 and a six-month sentence. Double that for amounts up to a pound. And all because you wanted to get weird at Arches.
Vermont -- Recreational
The Green Mountain State became, fittingly, the eighth to legalize recreational marijuana -- and the first to achieve this via the legislative process, as opposed to the ballot box -- when Governor Phil Scott signed the H.511 bill in 2018. Adults 21 and older can now legally carry up to 1 ounce, plus grow two mature and four additional immature plants at home. Medical users are permitted to carry up to 2 ounces and grow as many as nine plants.
Virginia -- Illegal
Things aren’t so good in Virginia. The most recent pushes for decriminalization came in early 2019 and already failed. First-time offenders carrying even less than half an ounce still can face 30 days in jail and a $500 fine; for subsequent offenses, you’re looking at a year in prison and a $2,500 fine. All sales are final -- just kidding! They are felonies. One glimmer of light in this dark shitstorm is that Virginia expanded its medical CBD allowance from just intractable epilepsy to any diagnosed condition.
Washington DC -- Recreational
I was living in DC when it legalized recreational weed in 2k14 under Initiative 71, and the weird bit is it’s still -- in 2k19 -- illegal to sell it here, so people are stuck in a weird limbo where they “gift” it to each other along with other items legally for sale (look, you can do it online). This has given rise to what’s sometimes called the “gray market” or “gray economy” of DC weed -- search Instagram for hashtags like #dcweed or #i71 -- along with a load of weed-themed events, including entire clubs, which the District then banned. Registered medical users can carry up to 2 ounces, but, like, so can everyone else.
Washington -- Recreational
While I’m partial to Colorado because I grew up there and it has the superior breakfast burritos, Washington did tie for first to legalize recreational grass in 2012. You’re free to have an ounce or less, so long as you consume it all privately -- public displays of smoking might get you a $100 fine, but no jail time.
Possession doesn’t become a felony charge until it hits 40 grams, or just under 1.5 ounces, and these days there are loads of dispensaries you can choose from. Plus, more than half of that sweet tax revenue goes to public health programs. Growing or selling your own weed is still a felony charge, so in that respect Washington is not as cool as certain other states, but then that’s none of my business. If you are in possession of a medical marijuana license, though, you can carry up to 3 ounces and grow as many as six plants at home.
West Virginia -- Medicinal (not yet operational)
Legalization is… a dialogue, at least, but not close to a reality. West Virginia is another one of those states where a medical marijuana program has been signed into law but is taking forever to actually materialize. While we wait, getting caught with any amount of weed in West Virginia can get you sent up for between 90 days and six months, on top of which you get a $1,000 fine.
Wisconsin -- Illegal
This is bullshit: any amount of weed in Wisconsin is punishable by six months in prison and a $1,000 fine. Your second offense? A felony, punishable by 3.5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. All sales are felonies, all home-growing is a felony… there are some allowances for hemp and CBD, but jeez. Don’t worry, though, they’re feeling the heat from Illinois’ legalization now, too.
Wyoming -- Illegal
So much for the untamed, unregulated spirit of the West. Not only is any amount of weed a misdemeanor in Wyoming, so is just “being under the influence.” Getting caught with anything over 3 ounces is a felony charge -- five-year sentence, $10,000 fine. Wyoming permits medical CBD for intractable epilepsy, but has done nothing in the way of actually providing it. Fortunately only seven people live here, but each of them deserves better.