Cannabis in America

The State of Weed: Marijuana Legalization State by State

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**Last Updated February 3, 2017 **

In recent decades, marijuana legalization has continuously evolved in the United States, as opposition against the drug continues to wane amidst new research on the drug's effects and criticism of the U.S.'s handling of the "War on Drugs." Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and 25 total states have legalized marijuana for medical use.

In November, a total of nine states voted on marijuana legalization. California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada all voted to legalize recreational marijuana. Arizona voters shot down their legal pot ballot measure. In addition, Florida, Arkansas, and North Dakota voted to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, while Montana voters chose to expand the parameters of their existing medical marijuana program.

The map below displays each state's current marijuana legalization status, from illegal to full legalized recreational use, as of February 3, 2017.

The State of Weed Map

According to Gallup polls, one in eight U.S. adults say they smoke marijuana and 58 percent of Americans believe marijuana should be legal in the U.S. As cannabis initiatives continue to find traction and make their way onto ballots, understanding the intricacies of each state's marijuana laws will become increasingly important.

Patients who use medical marijuana will need to know things like whether or not they can travel with the drug and use it in other states, and in cities where the drug is decriminalized mere fractions of an ounce could make the difference between low fines or substantial jail time. The following slide show contains information on each states' marijuana laws in regards to possessing, selling, and cultivating weed, although please note that this is intended as a basic resource and does not include the entirety of provisions in any given state. This is the "State of Weed."

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Image Courtesy of [bk1bennett via Flickr]

Image Courtesy of [bk1bennett via Flickr]

Marijuana Legalization Status: Recreational and Medical

Possession: It is legal to possess up to one ounce of marijuana in the state of Colorado. Any individual 21 years or older (you don’t need to be a resident) can legally purchase and consume marijuana. It is, however, illegal to consume marijuana in public. Open and public displays or uses of two ounces or less are considered  a petty offense and carry up to a $100 fine. While the state has decriminalized marijuana to some degree, possession of amounts over two ounces are subject to various prison sentences and potential fines.

Sale: Recreational marijuana may only be sold by licensed retailers. The sale of four ounces or less by an individual is considered a misdemeanor and carries up to six to 18 months in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. Selling or delivering more than four ounces is considered a felony and comes with much harsher penalties.

Cultivation: You may legally grow up to six marijuana plants per person, with no more than three in the mature/flowering stage at any time. No more than 12 total plants are allowed per residence regardless of the number of adults living there.

Additional Information: It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of any drug, including legal medical or recreational marijuana.

Qualifying Medical Conditions Include: cachexia (wasting syndrome), cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, persistent muscle spasms, seizures, severe nausea, and severe pain.

Research and analysis conducted by Law Street’s Cannabis in America Team: Alexis Evans, Alec Siegel, Anneliese Mahoney, and Kevin Rizzo.

Alexis Evans
Alexis Evans is an Assistant Editor at Law Street and a Buckeye State native. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a minor in Business from Ohio University. Contact Alexis at



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