Radical Rant: The Notorious Nine Prohibition States


How anybody can deny the medicinal value of cannabis anymore is a complete mystery to me.

It’s 2016. There are now just nine remaining states—Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Arkansas, West Virginia, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Louisiana*—that maintain an absolute prohibition on marijuana.

These nine states have no decriminalization (a ticket for pot, like Ohio, Nebraska or Mississippi); no non-psychoactive CBD oils (like Alabama, Utah or Wisconsin); no non-smoked medical marijuana (like Minnesota or New York); no non-home-grow medical marijuana (like New Jersey or Illinois); no medical marijuana (like New Mexico or Montana); and no legalization (like Colorado or Oregon).

You get caught with pot in the Notorious Nine, and you’re getting arrested, whether you’re a disabled vet who served our country fighting pain and PTSD or a desperate mom trying to save her daughter from epilepsy.

And it’s not just that those nine states maintain marijuana prohibition; they maintain some of the strictest marijuana prohibition in the country.

West Virginia: Possessing any amount of marijuana or cannabis plants is a misdemeanor worthy of 3 to 6 months in jail, so long as the weight isn’t enough to trigger an “intent to distribute” charge. How much is that? It depends on the prosecutor.

Pennsylvania: Possession of less than 30 grams is a misdemeanor with 30 days in jail, while over 30 grams gets you a year. Cultivating even one cannabis plant is a felony with 1 to 5 years in prison.

Kansas: Surprisingly, up to almost a pound of marijuana is just a misdemeanor with a year incarceration, but only for the first offense. For a second offense, any amount of marijuana is a felony with 10 months to 3.5 years in prison.

Indiana: Possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor worth six months in jail, and a single cannabis plant is worth a year.

North Dakota: Not only is possession of any amount of marijuana worth 30 days in jail, but merely ingesting hash or concentrates is worth a year in jail. Possessing any hash/concentrate or more than an ounce of marijuana is a felony with 5 years in prison.

Louisiana: Possessing up to a half-ounce gets you 15 days on your first offense. Get caught a second time, and you’re looking at six months in jail. Any cultivation of cannabis earns you a mandatory minimum 5 years in prison for a first offense.

Arkansas: Possession of any amount of marijuana can land you in prison or parole for up to a year.

Idaho: Not only is possession of less than 3 ounces a misdemeanor worth 1 year in jail and a cannabis plant a felony with a 1 year mandatory minimum in prison, but Idaho will lock you up for 3 months for merely being somewhere that somebody stores marijuana. Idaho will also lock you up for 6 months for merely being under the influence of marijuana in public.

South Dakota: Probably the most dangerous place for a medical marijuana patient in America. While possession of less than 2 ounces is a misdemeanor with a 1 year sentence, authorities need only find marijuana metabolites in your urine to get that conviction, as South Dakota has the nation’s only “internal possession” statute. Like Idaho, you can get time for being in a place where marijuana is stored, but it’s a full year in a South Dakota jail rather than Idaho’s three months. Plus, possession of any amount of concentrate is a felony that will get you a decade behind bars.

It’s great that we’ve got marijuana legalization and medical initiatives happening in nine or 10 states now. Support them all, because only when the rest of the country has embraced marijuana reform do these Notorious Nine Prohibition States have any chance of entering the 21st Century world of weed.

* Louisiana has a medical marijuana law on the books, but it cannot be implemented due to the word “prescription” within it, which runs afoul of federal law.

(Photo Courtesy of Weedist)

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