U.S Cannabis Laws
Is Cannabis Legal In My State?
Cannabis legalization is ever-changing at state and federal levels, making comprehension of each nuanced law exhaustive. On top of that, as this nascent industry continues to grow, new cannabis products are coming to market, each ranging in lawfulness.
We’ve decided to make things easier for the cannabis consumer with a state-by-state guide. Each state page breaks down the legality of recreational adult-use, medical marijuana, and CBD products. Take a look at the map to see where your state lands in legality. If you’re unsatisfied, reach out to your local state representatives!
|District of Columbia||No||Yes||Yes|
|North Carolina||No||Restricted Use*||Yes|
|South Carolina||No||Restricted Use*||Yes|
|South Dakota||It’s complicated||Yes||Yes|
|*click on each state to see their restricted use inclusions|
|U.S. Territories||Recreational||Medical Marijuana||CBD|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||No||Yes||Yes|
|Northern Mariana Islands||Yes||Yes||Yes|
U.S. Cannabis Timeline:
1931: Cannabis Prohibition begins
1937: The Marihuana (archaic spelling of Marijuana) Tax Act was enacted banning cannabis at the federal level. Medical Marijuana use was still permitted.
1951: The Boggs Act, Sponsored by Hale Boggs and signed into law under President Harry S. Truman, This act set mandatory sentencing and increased punishment for cannabis possession.
1969: The Marihuana Tax Act is deemed unconstitutional in the landmark Leary v. United States. Timothy Leary, a professor, and activist was arrested for the possession of marijuana in violation of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act. Leary then challenged the act because the act required self-incrimination, which violated his Fifth Amendment rights. (The self-incrimination clause provides various protections against self-incrimination, including the right of an individual to not serve as a witness in a criminal case in which they are the defendant, better known as “Pleading the Fifth.”) The court’s unanimous opinion was penned by Justice John Marshall Harlan II and declared the Marihuana Tax Act unconstitutional. Therefore, Leary’s conviction was overturned.
1970: The Controlled Substances Act is enacted (replacing the unconstitutional Marihuana Tax Act). Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, determined to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, thereby prohibiting its use for any purpose. This act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon.
This legislation created five classifications, with specific qualifications for a substance to be included in each. The substance scheduling (classification) is determined by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Yet, Congress has the power to schedule or reschedule substances through legislation. Substance scheduling decisions are based on its potential for abuse, accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and international treaties.
Classification of Controlled Substances:
Schedule I: High potential of abuse, not acceptable for medical use
Schedule II: High potential of abuse, sometimes allowed with “severe restrictions” for medical use
Schedule II: Medium potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use
Schedule IV: Moderate potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use
Schedule V: Lowest potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use
1984-1986: Mandatory Sentencing and the three-strikes law were created under the Reagan Administration. This accounts for some of the harshest drug laws designed, including mandatory 25-year imprisonment for certain drug offenses and the death penalty’s promotion to be used against “drug kingpins”.
1998: House Joint Resolution 117, encouraged by the passing of California’s Prop 215, the House of Representatives passed this measure to support the existing Federal legal process for determining the safety and efficacy of certain drugs.
2014: The Rohrabacher–Farr Amendment passed in the U.S. House and signed into law prohibiting the Justice Department from interfering with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.
2018: Farm bill legalizes low-THC hemp nationwide and effectively de-schedules hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) from the Controlled Substances Act.