Marijuana state of the union: Cannabis laws in every state

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Marijuana has now been legalized for adult recreational use in 10 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia. Medical cannabis is legal in 33 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. And for many areas in which it's still illegal, change is on the horizon. Legislation is also evolving regarding related products such as cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp. Here's where each state in the union stands regarding cannabis.



In 2014, Alabama passed a law authorizing a University of Alabama at Birmingham study on using cannabidiol to treat seizure disorders. Two years later, the state decriminalized cannabidiol for people with certain medical conditions, according to In March 2019, a bill was proposed in the House to legalize medical marijuana in Alabama. The speaker of the Alabama House, Rep. Mac McCutcheon, is among the bill's 20 co-sponsors.



Alaska legalized recreational marijuana in 2014. Since then, more than 260 marijuana businesses have opened across the state, according to the Anchorage Daily News. In March, Alaska became the first state to pass statewide regulations allowing on-site marijuana use in retail cannabis shops, creating safe spaces for consuming cannabis. However, local governments in cities can still prohibit on-site consumption through ordinances.



Marijuana is prohibited for recreational use and was barely approved for medical use to treat specific medical conditions in a 2010 referendum with 50.1 percent of the vote. Patients can possess up to 2.5 ounces. Marijuana can be smoked but not in public places. A legal battle is ongoing in the state Supreme Court over medical marijuana patients prosecuted for possession of marijuana extracts. A proposition to legalize recreational cannabis failed in 2016.



Arkansas residents voted to legalize medical marijuana through a 2016 ballot initiative, though the program has faced legal and regulatory delays, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. The first of the state's 32 medical dispensaries are set to open in 2019. Three cultivation facilities are operational, and a company called Bold Team is expected to produce the state's first legal marijuana harvest. Recreational use remains illegal.



Medical and recreational marijuana are both legal in California. The state has been an early adopter of legal cannabis, becoming the first state to legalize medical marijuana back in 1996. Adults 21 or older can possess, use, grow or purchase recreational cannabis from licensed retailers. As of January 2019, Californians can even get cannabis delivered, even in cities that restrict pot sales, according to the Los Angeles Times.



Colorado famously became one of the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana along with Washington in 2012. Two years later, it became the first state to legalize the sale of cannabis, launching a boom of marijuana tourism to the state. Many other states have based their systems on Colorado's experiments on its way to building a $1.5 billion-a-year industry, per the The Denver Post. Though the state was a trailblazer, it's divided on certain marijuana-related issues. For example, in 2018, Gov. John Hickenlooper vetoed bills loosening industry restrictions and allowing tasting rooms.



In March 2019, a Connecticut legislative committee approved a bill setting up a framework for legal recreational marijuana sales for adults 21 and older, according to the Hartford Courant. The proposal still must be approved by the state House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Ned Lamont. Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 2012, but past efforts toward recreational legalization have failed. During his 2018 election campaign, Lamont said one of his priorities in office would be legalizing recreational marijuana.

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Delaware established a medical marijuana program in 2011, and the the state's first medical marijuana clinic opened in 2015. Possession of small amounts of marijuana was also decriminalized in 2015, though recreational use remains illegal. A proposed bill to legalize recreational marijuana fell four votes short of passing in the House in 2018, according to WHYY. Legislators are currently working on a new legalization bill.



Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis successfully forced the state Legislature to remove the state's prohibition on smokable medical marijuana in March 2019, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Florida legalized medical marijuana in 2017 but only in the form of oils and baked goods. A bill to allow recreational marijuana died in the Legislature without a vote or hearing in April 2019.

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While medical marijuana use has been legal in Georgia since 2015, it was still illegal to buy it, sell it or transport the drug into Georgia from another state, according to the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That is until April 2019 when Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill permitting the growing, manufacturing and selling of medical marijuana oil in Georgia. Marijuana remains illegal for recreational use.

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Although Hawaii passed a medical marijuana law in 2000, qualified patients had to grow their own marijuana. The state's medical marijuana system wasn't established until 2015 when it began licensing pot dispensaries, according to the Los Angeles Times. Starting in March 2019, Hawaii will also allow out-of-state visitors to purchase medical marijuana. Cannabis is still illegal for recreational use.



According to the Idaho Statesman, hemp is considered marijuana under state law. Residents can buy food-grade hemp, but it's illegal to grow. A bill to legalize hemp production in Idaho is in the works in response to the 2018 federal farm bill, which included a provision legalizing hemp. Meanwhile, marijuana remains a controlled substance in Idaho for both recreational and medical purposes.



During his 2019 inaugural address, Gov. J.B. Pritzker vowed to "to legalize, tax and regulate the sale of recreational cannabis in Illinois," according to the Chicago Tribune. Medical marijuana has been available in the state since 2015 for patients who qualify with specific medical conditions. A state bill that would legalize, tax and regulate recreational marijuana has passed committee, but its terms are currently still being negotiated by lawmakers.

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Indiana's state legislature discussed the possibility of medical marijuana legalization for the first time in 2018, according to the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. Lawmakers have supported studies of medical marijuana, and in 2017, a law passed allowing use of CBD oil for people with a severe form of epilepsy. For years, State Sen. Karen Tallian has drafted marijuana legalization bills, according to the Post-Tribune, but they have not made it past committee.



Iowa's medical marijuana program has slowly expanded since its introduction in 2014. The state allows cannabidiol products such as oils, tablets and creams and regulates manufacturing and dispensing but bars the smokable form of marijuana, according to the Des Moines Register. Iowa's first medical marijuana production facility opened in November 2018, and products can be purchased at five licensed dispensaries. The production, sale and use of recreational marijuana remains illegal.



In 2018, Kansas voters elected Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, a supporter of legalizing medical (but not recreational) marijuana in the state. Earlier that year, state legislators approved the sale of CBD oil with zero THC. In 2019, the House passed a bill giving people with severe medical conditions who use CBD oil containing THC a legal defense in court, according to the The Wichita Eagle. It's the only marijuana bill to get a vote in either chamber of the state legislature so far.



All marijuana use is illegal in Kentucky, but a new medical marijuana legalization bill was approved by a Kentucky House committee in March 2019, according to the Lexington Herald Leader. The bill, which would establish state-licensed cultivation facilities and dispensaries, did not pass in this year's legislative session, meaning it won't be revisited until the next one convenes in January 2020.



Although Louisiana technically legalized marijuana for medical purposes in 1978, according to, it wasn't until 2015 that the state government established a system for dispensing medical marijuana. However, the state has limited production to just two state universities and has only licensed nine pharmacy operators, according to CNN, causing a bottleneck. As of April 2019, medical marijuana is still not for sale in the state.



Maine legalized medical marijuana in 2005. In 2009, marijuana was decriminalized and Maine established state-licensed dispensaries. The state does not have a specific list of qualifying conditions. In 2016, voters approved recreational marijuana usage by a margin of less than 1 percent, though as of 2019, the state has yet to begin adult-use sales.



Maryland's medical marijuana program was established in 2013, granting licenses to grow and process medical cannabis. After five years of delays and complications, sales to approved patients by dispensaries finally began in 2017, according to the Annapolis Capital Gazette. State lawmakers have commissioned a study into the effects of legalizing recreational use of marijuana to inform bill development for the 2020 legislative session, according to The Baltimore Sun.



The first commercial marijuana shops in the eastern United States opened in Massachusetts in November 2018. Voters legalized the use of recreational marijuana by adults 21 and older back in 2016. The industry has faced resistance at the local level via restrictions and bans, but according to, there are 15 dispensaries currently open in Massachusetts. The closest to Boston opened in March, though no shops have yet been allowed within the city itself.



In 2017, Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana for adults 21 and older. Adults can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and can grow up to 12 plants at home. But it is currently illegal to sell to the general public, to consume in public and to take across state lines, according to the Chicago Tribune. The state approved medical marijuana in 2008.



Minnesota decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana in the the 1970s. In 2014, the state legalized medical marijuana in liquid or pill form for certain medical conditions. Minnesota has one of the country's strictest medical marijuana programs, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, with only a dozen qualifying conditions. Gov. Tim Walz expressed support for legalizing recreational marijuana during his 2018 campaign, but Republicans in the Minnesota Senate killed a proposed bill on the subject in March 2019.



Cannabis is illegal for all purposes in Mississippi, although the state grows marijuana for the federal government at an Ole Miss lab, according to the Biloxi Sun Herald. 2015 was the last time residents pushed for a vote on legalizing marijuana, but the campaign Medical Marijuana 2020 is petitioning to include an initiative to legalize medical marijuana on the November 2020 ballot.



In Missouri, low-THC CBD oil is legal to treat seizures, but all other cannabis was illegal until residents approved a ballot measure approving medical use in November 2018. Officials are currently working on program regulations with a deadline of December 31, 2019, to award medical marijuana business licenses, according to the Springfield News-Leader.



Cannabis was legalized for medical use by Montana voters back in 2004. The state's multimillion-dollar industry was further regulated in 2017 with revised rules about testing and labeling requirements, according to the Billings Gazette. In 2019, a state House committee killed a proposed bill to legalize recreational marijuana, according to the Helena Independent Record.



In Nebraska, cannabis is illegal for any purpose. Nebraska borders Colorado, and the state filed suit with the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015, seeking to overturn Colorado's law legalizing recreational marijuana. Legislators have rejected multiple past medical marijuana bills, and now supporters are threatening to rally support for a ballot initiative to let voters decide, according to The Associated Press.



Marijuana was legalized for recreational use in Nevada by ballot initiative in 2017 after similar measures had been proposed in the state for more than a decade. Both residents and tourists who are 21 and older can purchase up to 1 ounce of cannabis flower or an eighth-ounce of concentrate from the state's more than 65 recreational dispensaries. However, it can only be consumed on private property with owner permission. This presents a hiccup for tourists staying in hotel-casinos, where allowing federal narcotics could cost them their gaming licenses, according to Rolling Stone.


New Hampshire

New Hampshire has a strict medical marijuana program that was established in 2013. The state House passed a bill to legalize marijuana in New Hampshire in February 2019. Gov. Chris Sununu has vowed to veto the bill, so it must pass with veto-proof majorities, according to the Concord Monitor.


New Jersey

In March 2019, lawmakers in the New Jersey state Senate and Assembly were scheduled to vote on a bill legalizing recreational marijuana. However, the vote was canceled once it became clear that it had inadequate support to pass, according to Voting on the committee-approved bill must be held before January 2020. First-term Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy made recreational legalization one of his central campaign promises.

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New Mexico

New Mexico has allowed cannabis for medical use since 2007. Today, there are more than 80 dispensaries operating around the state. In April, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill decriminalizing up to a half ounce of marijuana. However, the month before, a bipartisan bill legalizing recreational cannabis through state-run stores died in the Senate after narrowly passing the House, according to the Albuquerque Journal.


New York

Medical marijuana has been legal in New York state since 2014, but several several bills over the past few years that would decriminalize recreational marijuana use and possession have failed, according to the New York Daily News. At the end of 2018, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the legalization of recreational use of marijuana for adults was one of his priorities for 2019. However, legalization was not included in the state budget and would now have to pass as a stand-alone bill.


North Carolina

Cannabis is banned in North Carolina for both recreational and medical use, and possession of small amounts is a misdemeanor. Lawmakers have no official plans to discuss marijuana legalization. Meanwhile, North Carolina has enthusiastically hopped on hemp and CBD production and processing, with multiple tobacco companies branching out into the industry, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.


North Dakota

Hemp cultivation and medical marijuana are legal in North Dakota, but recreational use is still illegal and possession of small amounts is a misdemeanor. During the 2018 midterm elections, residents voted on a ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana. The bill lacked any framework for a system in which marijuana could be bought, sold, regulated or taxed. It ultimately failed, with 59 percent of North Dakotans voting against it.



Ohio decriminalized possessing small amounts of marijuana back in 1975 and legalized medical marijuana in 2016. The law required the program to be fully operational by September 2018, according to the Naperville Sun, but legal medical marijuana sales didn't begin until January 2019. In Ohio, marijuana cannot be cultivated and ingestion by smoking is prohibited. Patients must have one of 21 specific conditions to qualify.



In 2018, Oklahoma became the 30th U.S. state to legalize medical cannabis. That same year, a petition to legalize recreational marijuana failed to get on the ballot. The state's medical marijuana program launched just two months later. In Oklahoma, CBD is treated separately from marijuana. THC-free CBD is legal to use by everyone and can easily be obtained over the counter.



Oregon became the first state to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis in 1973. Recreational cultivation and use of marijuana by adults became legal in Oregon in 2014. An initiative petition is currently being proposed for November 2020 that would allow indoor cannabis consumption and the sale of pot across state lines.



Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill legalizing medical cannabis into law in April 2016. Today, the state has more than 40 medical marijuana dispensaries, according to The Morning Call, a newspaper based in Allentown. Though non-medical use or possession is still illegal, some cities including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have decriminalized possession of small amounts. Current Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is an advocate of legalizing recreational use. After winning reelection, Gov. Wolf went on a listening tour through the state's 67 counties to gauge public opinion about legalizing recreational marijuana for adult use.

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Rhode Island

In 2006, Rhode Island became the 11th state to legalize medical marijuana. Possession of small amounts is decriminalized, but adult use is still illegal. Previous bills to legalize recreational use have stalled in the state legislature, according to the Providence Journal. In 2019, Gov. Gina Raimondo proposed a plan to legalize, regulate and tax recreational marijuana. Lawmakers are currently discussing the proposal.

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South Carolina

In March 2019, a South Carolina Senate subcommittee passed the Compassionate Care Act, which legalizes marijuana for medical purposes and would open at least one dispensary in each county, according to Columbia newspaper The State. The bill has been presented four times before. The state General Assembly is currently debating the bill. Hemp was legalized in South Carolina before the 2018 federal farm bill, and use of low-THC CBD oil is permitted for certain medical conditions, but all other cannabis is illegal.


South Dakota

South Dakota has no form of legal marijuana, and possession of even small amounts is a misdemeanor. It's also the only state in the country where you can be charged with possession by ingestion if marijuana is found in your bloodstream. Ballot initiatives to legalize medical marijuana failed in both 2006 and 2010. Another attempted initiative in 2018 didn't earn enough signatures to make the ballot, according to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.



In Tennessee, marijuana is illegal for both medical or recreational use. However, CBD products are legally available and industrial hemp production is legal, according to the Nashville Tennessean. In 2019, two Republican lawmakers introduced a comprehensive bill that would legalize medical marijuana. A previous proposal that would have only allowed oil-based products failed the year before.



Bills that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, legalize industrial hemp production and legalize marijuana for medical use were proposed during Texas' 2019 legislative session and are awaiting a vote. Gov. Greg Abbott and the Republican Party of Texas both support decriminalization, according to The Dallas Morning News. Currently, marijuana is illegal for all uses, except low-THC CBD oil, which is allowed as a treatment for epilepsy.

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Medical marijuana use was legalized by ballot vote in Utah in November 2018. The state's first medical cannabis distribution network is mandated by the law to be up and running by March 1, 2020. Recreational use or possession remains illegal, and medical marijuana cannot be smoked.



Recreational use and possession of marijuana became legal in Vermont in July 2018, making it the first state to legalize marijuana through its state legislature rather than a ballot initiative, according to the Chicago Tribune. Adults can possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, two mature and four immature plants. There is currently no legal market for buying, selling or commercially growing marijuana, but lawmakers are currently working on regulations for a legal system.



Both medical and recreational cannabis is illegal in Virginia, though the state did pass a bill allowing but not legalizing medical CBD and THC-A cannabis extracts in 2015. The state offers "affirmative defense," which protects patients from being charged with possession. The state's first medical cannabis dispensaries, which will provide CBD and THC-A oil products, are expected to open in late 2019, according to The Virginian-Pilot. In 2019, General Assembly Del. Steve Heretick introduced the state's first legislation to legalize marijuana, but the bills were defeated in committee.



Marijuana was legalized for medical use in Washington state way back in 1998. It was later accepted for adult recreational use in 2012, making Washington one of the first two states to legalize it. Marijuana must be purchased at state-licensed retail stores and cannot be consumed in public. The state continues to make advances in regulating its multibillion-dollar marijuana industry, addressing issues such as pollution, pesticide testing and more, according to The Olympian.


Washington, DC

Both recreational and medical marijuana are legal in Washington, D.C. Residents in the nation's capital voted to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use in November 2014, but buying or selling cannabis remains illegal. Adults 21 and older can possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis, grow up to three mature and three immature plants in their homes, and "gift" up to 1 ounce to another adult. Marijuana is also still illegal on federal property, which makes up 22 percent of D.C.


West Virginia

Non-smokable medical cannabis was legalized for specific chronic medical conditions in West Virginia in 2017. Patients are only allowed to get cannabis from regulated dispensaries. Recreational marijuana is still a controlled substance, yet West Virginia's illegally produced cannabis crop lands it among the five largest marijuana-producing states as of 2015, according to the DEA.



Currently the only permitted cannabis use in Wisconsin is CBD with a note from a doctor. In February 2019, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced he plans to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use and legalize medical marijuana. A bill was proposed in the Legislature in April. Democrats have been trying for a decade to pass some sort of marijuana legalization.

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Wyoming remains one of the states with the strictest marijuana policy. Neither recreational nor medical marijuana is legal, and hemp farming and CBD products are also banned. In 2019, legislators rejected a bill to decriminalize CBD products but approved a bill to establish an industrial-grade hemp production. Another bill establishing a legal medicinal marijuana program was introduced in the state Legislature in January 2019.

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