American High: State-by-State Guide to Legal Pot

With ongoing marijuana legalization, it can be difficult to know in which states you are allowed to consume marijuana and what the exact rules are in each area. This is because it was left to each state to decide whether or not marijuana should be legal. And if it was legalized in the state then it was up to each county to implement their own rules as to how the growth and cultivation was to be monitored. And to add complexity to the situation there are different rules and regulations for governing the use and growth of marijuana for medical and recreational marijuana. Below is a general guide to the rules surrounding legal pot across US states.

Recreational Marijuana

Recreational marijuana means the marijuana is allowed to be ingested for recreational purposes. Residents of states where recreational marijuana is legal are usually allowed to have up to 6 personal plants per residence, and possess some marijuana on their person without it being a criminal offence. The exact amounts vary state by state and sometimes county by county. The states that recreational marijuana is legal in are

  • Washington
  • Colorado (has more marijuana dispensaries than McDonalds and Starbucks combined)
  • California (legislation coming into force January 2018)
  • Maine
  • Nevada
  • Alaska
  • Massachusetts
  • Oregon (only allows 4 plants per house)

Medical Marijuana

In many states, consumption of marijuana is permissible for the treatment of certain medical conditions. Like recreational marijuana, the rules vary by state and by county, and are perhaps even more diverse. Generally, the applicant gets qualified for a medical marijuana card after seeing a doctor. The doctor verifies that the patient has the symptoms of the condition that medical marijuana could treat. The patient then goes to a medical dispensary to obtain the medical marijuana. It is illegal for a doctor to directly prescribe marijuana, as it is a schedule one drug at the federal level. It is also possible to grow your own medical marijuana at home in certain states. In many states, it is relatively easy to get an online prescription from a doctor and get a medical marijuana card in less than 30 minutes. Other states have procedures in place that make it a little more complicated. Medical marijuana is currently legal in the following 29 states:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Washington, DC
  • West Virginia

Some states, such as Connecticut, Delaware and New Jersey, do not allow for personal cultivation of medical marijuana. Others allow for various numbers of home grown medical marijuana, such as 7 plants in Hawaii and 12 in Nevada. The rules and requirements governing the cultivation of medical marijuana varies county by county. In California, a new system has been suggested where a stamp is associated with every marijuana plant. This stamp would reveal the information of how the marijuana was cultivated, its lab tests and information about the producer of the crop. This proposal is currently only relevant to the cultivation of medical marijuana.

CBD States

In addition to medical and recreational marijuana, there are states that do not allow THC (the psychoactive compound found in marijuana) but that do allow CBD (similar to THC but with no psychoactive effects). Many states allow the use of CBD extracts in oil or some other form. This is a CBD specific law. The passing of a CBD law is not the same as allowing the use of medical marijuana, as the THC is what is mainly associated with all the positive benefits of medical marijuana. Without the THC, marijuana is no longer an effective treatment for many of the medical disorders that its use is permitted for. Despite this, CBD does have its uses, exhibitinganti-inflammatory, anti-emetic, anti-epileptic, muscle relaxing, neuroprotective, anxiolytic and anti-psychotic activity. The following are the states who have specific CBD extract laws:

  • Alabama
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Little Consistency

The main takeaway is that there is practically no consistency between the rules and regulations concerning the cultivation and distribution of marijuana. It is left to each individual state to decide if it wants to legalize medical and/or recreational marijuana. After this, it is left to local counties to implement broad state guidelines. The result of this is that the laws governing marijuana are radically different state by state. It is important to do your own research if you are planning on either growing or obtaining any form of marijuana for medical or recreational use. There is simply no standardization and there is never going to be one set of rules, as these rules have been left to states and local counties.

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