Where is Cannabis Legal? By Ana Olvera

Marijuana-related initiatives appeared on nine ballots in the 2016 election. California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine voted on, and approved, the legalization of recreational marijuana. Voters in Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas approved a measure legalizing medical marijuana.

The total now comes to 29 states with legalized recreational and/or medical marijuana.

As of publication, marijuana is not legalized in 21 states:

  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law and remains classified as a Schedule 1 substance under the federal Controlled Substance Act.


Alaska — Recreational + Medical

  • AS 17.38 allows individuals age 21 and older to use marijuana on private property
  • Adults 21 and older can possess, grow as many as six plants. However; only three of the plants can be mature and flowering at any one time.

Arizona — Medical

  • Medical marijuana is accessible to adult patients and patients under the age of 18 whose custodial parent or legal guardian has been designated as his or her caregiver
  • Patients can grow their own marijuana if there is no operating dispensary within 25 miles of his or her home

Arkansas – Medical

  • Approval of Issue 6, approved in 2016 election, has legalized medical marijuana
  • Individuals who have any of 18 qualifying conditions, such as cancer, Tourette’s syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease, can buy marijuana from dispensaries; patients cannot grow their own

California — Recreational + Medical

  • Proposition 64, approved in 2016 election, allows the recreational use of marijuana, retail sales and imposes a 15% tax
  • Individuals age 21 and older can possess, transport, buy and use up to an ounce of cannabis for recreational purposes
  • Individuals can grow as many as six plants
  • Non-medical marijuana can only be sold by state licensed businesses
  • California has until Jan. 1, 2018 to begin issuing sales licenses for recreational retailers

Colorado — Recreational + Medical

  • Adults 21 and older may purchase and possess up to 1 ounce retail marijuana
  • Adults 21 and older may grow up to six plants
  • Medical marijuana is only accessible to Colorado residents with a medical marijuana registry ID card
  • Applicants for a medical or recreational marijuana business license must be a Colorado resident for at least two years; as of Jan. 1, 2017, non-Colorado residents may request an application appointment to apply for a business license

Connecticut — Medical

  • The number of licensed producers in the state at any one time shall be at least three and not more than 10
  • Medical marijuana is accessible to Connecticut residents at least 18 years of age with a debilitating medical conditions specifically identified in the law
  • The maximum allowable monthly amount is 2.5 ounces

Delaware — Medical

  • Delaware residents may apply for a medical marijuana card if they have been diagnosed with a debilitating condition outlined by the law
  • There is one medical marijuana distribution center, the First State Compassion Center, in the state

Florida — Medical

  • Constitutional amendment (Amendment 2) approved in 2016 election
  • Legalizes medical marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions including those comparable to cancer, epilepsy, HIV, PTSD and Parkinson’s
  • Does not immunize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana

Hawaii — Medical

  • Eight dispensary licenses are to be issued throughout the state
  • Marijuana and manufactured marijuana products may only be produced, manufactured and dispensed in the county for which the license is granted
  • Applicants applying for a license must be a Hawaii resident for at least five years
  • Registered patients can grow up to seven plants, with a required identification tag on each plant
  • Usable marijuana of up to 4 ounces may be possessed jointly by a registered patient and their caregiver

Illinois — Medical

  • Patient applicants must be Illinois residents
  • Up to 22 cultivation centers may be registered in the state; all 22 cultivation center permits have been awarded
  • Up to 60 dispensing organization registrations will be issued
  • Dispensaries cannot dispense more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana to patients in any 14-day period

Louisiana  — Medical

  • 10 medical marijuana pharmacies and one cultivator are allowed under the law; the Louisiana State University and Southern University are pursuing the single cultivator license
  • Rules for growing and production, product distribution and doctor recommendation are being drafted
  • Marijuana products will likely be in tincture, spray, pill or oil form, according to Louisiana State University

Maine – Recreational + Medical

  • Question 1, approved in the Nov. 8 election, legalizes the recreational use of marijuana for people 21 years and older
  • Individuals who meet the age requirement can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana
  • The new allows the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing and sale of marijuana and marijuana products subject to state regulation
  • Retail sales will be taxed at 10 percent

Maryland — Medical

  • Patients may possess up to 4 ounces of medical marijuana, defined as dried flower, and maximum amount of THC in an extract that a patient can get is 36 grams of THC
  • Patients cannot cultivate their own cannabis
  • A grower facility and a processor facility may be located on the same property
  • There is no current minimum or maximum for the number of plants a grower can cultivate
  • Up to 15 licenses may be issued, with 15 growers already receiving Stage One license pre-approval; Processor pre-approvals have been limited to 15 processors, all of which have been pre-approved

Massachusetts — Recreational + Medical

  • Recreational use of marijuana became legalized with the approval of Question 4 on the November ballot
  • People 21 years of age and older may use, possess and grow marijuana
  • Individuals can have up to 10 ounces in their home, up to 1 ounce in public and can grow up to six plants
  • Retail stores are allowed to open beginning 2018

Michigan — Medical

  • Medical marijuana is accessible to Michigan residents over the age of 18 and visiting qualifying patients with registry ID cards from other states that allow the medical use of marijuana
  • Patients can possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana and it’s equivalents, and can cultivate 12 marijuana plants
  • Caregivers can possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana and grow up to 12 marijuana plants for each of their registered qualifying patients
  • Effective 360 days after Dec. 20, 2016, operating licenses will be available in three categories:
    • Class A – 500 plants
    • Class B – 1,000 plants
    • Class C – 1,500 plants

Minnesota — Medical

  • Accessible to patients with one of 10 outlined medical conditions
  • Eight cannabis clinics open in the state
  • Medical marijuana can only be sold in pill or liquid form, including oil
  • Two manufactures have been approved in the state, which each being allowed four distribution centers

Montana  Medical

  • Medical marijuana use expanded by ballot initiative 182 (I-182) in 2016 election
  • Providers of the drugs will not be limited to the number of patients they can serve
  • Adds PTSD to eligible conditions, allows for lab testing for marijuana and orders annual health department inspections of providers

Nevada — Recreational + Medical

  • Question 2, approved on the Nov. 8 ballot, legalizes the recreational use, possession, cultivation and sale of marijuana
  • Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, individuals over the age of 21 can possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana
  • License applications for recreational sales are only available to licensed medical marijuana dispensaries

New Hampshire — Medical

  • Accessible to New Hampshire residents diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition
  • Qualifying patients may purchase up to 2 ounces of cannabis during a 10-day period and may not posses more than 2 ounces of cannabis at any one time
  • A maximum of four Alternative Treatment Centers may be issued registration certificates allowing the cultivation, production and dispensing of cannabis

New Jersey — Medical

  • Patients and caregivers may not grow, cultivate or possess marijuana plants
  • Patients may not purchase more than 2 ounces of usable marijuana in a 30-day period
  • Six alternative treatment centers, allowed to grow, cultivate and dispense medical marijuana, are established in the state

New Mexico — Medical

  • Patients with a personal production license may grow up to four mature female plants and a combined total of 12 seedlings and male plants
  • Non-profit producers are limited to a combined total of up to 450 mature female plants, seedlings and male plants
  • The New Mexico Department of Health is not accepting applications from businesses interested in becoming producers and distributors of medical cannabis

New York — Medical

  • Approved forms include liquids, oil and capsules
  • Registered organizations may dispense up to a 30-day supply based on the recommendation or limitation identified by a physician
  • The state has selected five organizations to grow and sell medical marijuana

North Dakota  Medical

  • Measure 5 approved in 2016 election
  • Legalizes possession of up to 3 ounces of medical marijuana for treatment of up to nearly a dozen medical conditions

Ohio — Medical

  • Medical marijuana legalization became effective Sept. 8, 2016
  • Rules and regulations for the Medical Marijuana Control Program are currently being developed, including those applicable to patients, cultivators and processors; by law the MMCP is required to be fully operational by September 2018
  • Permitted forms of medical marijuana are oils, tinctures, plant material, edibles and patches.
  • Patients are not allowed to grow or cultivate their own marijuana

Oregon — Recreational + Medical

  • Patients registered as growers may grow up to 12 mature plants
  • Patients may grow up to six mature plants and up to 24 ounces of usable marijuana
  • Growers, designated by a patient to produce marijuana for the patient, cannot grow for more than four patients at a time and cannot grow more than six mature plants per patient
  • Recreational marijuana is accessible to adults 21 and older from medical marijuana dispensaries
  • Adults may possess up to 8 ounces of recreational marijuana in the home, possess up to 1 ounce outside the home, and four plants may be grown per residence

Pennsylvania — Medical

  • Full implementation of the state’s medical marijuana program is expected to take 18 to 24 months after the Medical Marijuana Act was signed (April 17, 2016)
  • Medical marijuana will be accessible to patients with serious medical conditions
  • Up to 150 dispensaries will be authorized across the state
  • Grower, processor and dispensary regulations under the Medical Marijuana Program are being drafted and will be made posted  in the Pennsylvania Bulletin as they become available

Rhode Island — Medical

  • New category of private growers has been established to supply dispensaries, with no cap on licenses
  • Initially private growers/cultivators will be limited to growing up to 500 plants and up to 10 pounds of usable marijuana on hand; any produced marijuana not fulfilling a dispensary contract will have 30 days to be sold or must be destroyed
  • Four classes of cultivator licenses will be issued based on size of operation
  • Applications for cultivators will be accepted until April 30, 2017, with the application process reopening annually
  • Dispensaries may grow as much marijuana as needed for patients
  • Dispensaries are banned from applying to also become cultivators
  • Patients may grow up to 12 mature marijuana plants and possess 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana

Vermont — Medical

  • Patients may grow up to two mature plants, seven immature plants and possess 2 ounces of usable marijuana
  • No more than four dispensaries may hold valid registration at one time

Washington — Recreational + Medical

  • Various retail and nonretail producer licenses, divided into tiers based on production size, are issued by the Liquor and Cannabis Board; as of November 2016, the board is not accepting applications but may accept applications at a later date
  • Adults 21 and older may purchase up to 1 ounce of usable marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana-infused edibles in solid form, 72 ounces in liquid form, and 7 grams of marijuana concentrates
  • Medical marijuana patients may purchase a combination of 48 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form, 3 ounces of usable marijuana, 216 ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form, or 21 grams of marijuana concentrates
  • Medical marijuana patients may grow up to six plants for personal medical use and possess up to 8 ounces of usable marijuana produced from his or her plants

* Washington, D.C. — Recreational + Medical

  • Initiative 71, approved in February 2015, allows individuals 21 years and older to legally use marijuana on private property, possess up to 2 ounces and grow up to six plants
  • However, purchasing and selling marijuana is still illegal under Initiative 71

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