Radical Rant: What Percentage of the U.S. Still Completely Outlaws Marijuana?

UNITED STATES – APRIL 23: Road in a prairie, Charlie Russell Country, Montana, United States of America. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

Thanks to the legalization of marijuana in four more states this past election, we now have two of the six US time zones designated as legal weed zones.


Marijuana States of America 2016-11

OK, one is Alaska; with legalization there, we already had the entire Alaska Time Zone covered. Adding California and Nevada to Washington and Oregon gives us the entire Pacific Time Zone,except for that small chunk of northern Idaho (sorry, Coeur d’Alene).

Within the four contiguous legal states of Washington, Oregon, California, and Nevada live one out of six American adults over 18. We now have the entire 1,380 miles of a freeway (Interstate 5), running from the Canadian border to the Mexican border, where no drug-sniffing dog can be used to detect the presence of marijuana in your car.

Should Canada finally get around to legalizing, we could extend that road trip up through British Columbia and the Yukon Territory to add another 2,558 miles on our way to Prudhoe Bay, the farthest north we can drive in legal Alaska.

Imagine—almost 5,000 miles of driving where marijuana is legal. Maybe we should rename it Interstate 420?

US Marijuana Time Zone


If we add in the legal states of Colorado, Massachusetts, and Maine, we now have over two out of ten US adults living in a state where marijuana is legal.

With the addition of Florida, Arkansas, and North Dakota as medical-marijuana states, another over four out of ten US adults live where their doctor’s recommendation for medical cannabis protects them from prosecution.

Since the legal states are also medical states, that makes six out of ten who can get medical marijuana.

Now we’re going to get into some heavy math.

Of the 20 medical marijuana states that aren’t also legal marijuana states, nine of them are decriminalized states (no arrest for personal possession). That means the six out of ten who live in medical marijuana states break down to about two who are in legal states, two who are in decriminalized states, and two who live where it’s medical-only.

Counting all the sixteen (mostly southern) states that allow the use of low-THC cannabidiol oil, mostly for kids with epilepsy, we cover another over three out of ten US adults.

That leaves us with less than one in ten US adults living in a state where there is no medical use of marijuana whatsoever. (With all the “just overs”, the actual figure is 6.28 percent—closer to one out of twenty.)

Marijuana States of America 2016-11 Summary


But even among those seven states with no medical use there are a few that offer some relief for marijuana crimes. There are 21 states where the personal possession of marijuana is decriminalized—no arrest occurs and most leave no criminal record.

Eight of those states are the legal states, so decriminalization is moot there. Seven of the medical marijuana states (Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont) are fine-only infraction states for personal amounts and two (Minnesota and Ohio) are fine-only minor misdemeanors.

Of the CBD-only states, Mississippi has infraction-decrim while Missouri and North Carolina offer minor misdemeanor-decrim. Nebraska is the only decriminalization state that has no medical use of marijuana at all.

Then there are 32 states that have recognized the legality of industrial hemp. Of those, 23 of them merely recognize that right on paper, but four states (Hawaii, Indiana, Minnesota and North Dakota) have moved forward with small research crops and another five (Colorado, Kentucky, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont) have licensed hemp farmers growing for commercial purposes.

Among the seven non-medical/non-CBD states, Indiana is one of the states with a hemp research crop, while Nebraska and West Virginia have hemp statutes on paper.

Thus, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, and South Dakota remain as the only states that maintain absolute prohibition with arrest and criminal record for any person caught with any form of cannabis used for any purpose.

Add it all up and you come to this not insignificant fact: That’s just a shade over 3 percent of the US adult population.

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