The land of maple, niceness, and hockey has become the first G7 nation to federally legalize recreational cannabis. But here in the land of the stars and stripes, it’s a little trickier to know where is weed legal. Sure, nine pot-progressive states where recreational weed is legal have set an example for legalization and its benefits. Still, some states where weed is legal only permit weed for medicinal purposes, allowing for small personal amounts or only for CBD oils that are low in THC. And others, refusing to accept the revenue and health benefits of weed, strictly prohibit any use of the plant. Here we separate the states into these three categories—states where weed is legal recreationally and medically, where weed is legal only medically, and where weed is absolutely illegal.
Dank Destinations: States Where Recreational Weed is Legal
So far, nine states and Washington D.C. have set forth an example to the nation, legalizing both recreational and medical marijuana. Some, like Massachusetts, still await the opening of recreational shops but have legal weed according to state law. In D.C., a resident may smoke, possess, and give marijuana as a gift, but it is illegal to buy or sell it. Compare these finicky and slow-to-start states with the burgeoning economies of Colorado and Washington state, where the recreational industry has supplied a significant amount of money. States where recreational weed is legal have set a precedent for the recreational market for other states sure to follow.
All of these states, except for Vermont, put through laws for legalizing recreational marijuana by voter ballot. Vermont legalized recreational weed through its state legislature. For quick reference, here is a list of the nine states:
- Washington D.C.
Get a Prescription: States Where Weed is Legal, But Only Medically
Some states where weed is legal haven’t come as far in their marijuana policy. Though these states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, they have yet to grant recreational access to the plant. In these states, residents require a prescription from an approved physician in order to obtain their medicine. In places like New York state, obtaining a medical marijuana card can be as simple as going to a website. In other states, it can be more complicated to get a medical marijuana card. Not to mention, a card may need to be renewed annually, which can cost a fee.
Furthermore, once a patient obtains a prescription, how much and what is allowed to the patient varies state by state. In some states, a patient may or may not be allowed to cultivate their own plants while other states restrict patients to treatment with just CBD oils low in THC. Then, some states like New Mexico have medical marijuana but have also decriminalized the plant if only possessing small amounts in some areas of the state.
Finally, some states are more restrictive in who qualifies to use medical marijuana. Recently, Georgia added pain and PTSD as qualifying conditions. New Jersey, Michigan, Kentucky, and New York also added more conditions to their lists of people who could qualify for a medical marijuana prescription. Here’s the full list of all states where weed is legal medically (not including the nine above which have legal and recreational medical marijuana):
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Where is Weed Legal? Not These States
Some states still haven’t jumped on the bud bandwagon. They allow for no amount of medical marijuana. Because of this, they are the only states which uphold federal policy. But luckily, of all fifty states, only four are states where weed is never legal. Recently, Idaho has shown some headway in legalizing medical marijuana. Should these states turn in favor of legalizing marijuana in some form, the United States will encounter an interesting situation where all fifty states directly disobey federal policy. Until then, these four states are holding out on legalizing pot:
- South Dakota
A National Effort in Progress
It may be some time before America joins hands in a smoke circle and celebrates federal legalization. The difference state to state in what is acceptable to possess varies extremely. So it’s important as a resident to know your state’s specific laws on marijuana. While politicians edge ever closer to an entire United States where recreational weed is legal, Americans wait with bated breath, held because of eagerness and excitement for changing pot policy, and not just from holding in their hits.