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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District of Columbia

Image Courtesy of [Daniel Lobo via Flickr]

Image Courtesy of [Daniel Lobo via Flickr]

Marijuana Legalization Status: Recreational & Medical

Possession: District of Columbia voters voted to legalize the possession of minimal amounts of marijuana for personal use, effectively decriminalizing weed in the capital. However, there are some caveats. Persons 21 years or older may legally possess two ounces or less of marijuana. Possessing more than two ounces is a misdemeanor that carries six months in prison and/or a $1,000 fine. Consuming marijuana in public is still illegal, so users can only consume marijuana in a private residence (unless they are in public housing or it is prohibited by their lease.)

Sale: Selling any amount of marijuana is still illegal; however, you may legally “gift” up to one ounce of marijuana to another person 21 years or older. There are currently no recreational marijuana shops open in the district, so for now you can only purchase marijuana legally through a medical dispensary–for which you would need a medical card.

Cultivation: Washingtonians may grow up to six marijuana plants. You may not exceed 12 plants in a residence.

Additional Information: Even though marijuana is decriminalized in D.C., federal law continues to prohibit the possession or use of any amount of marijuana. So you may still be arrested by federal law enforcement officers for possession or use of any amount of marijuana. This applies to federal land–and more than 20 percent of land in D.C. is federal land.

Qualifying Medical Conditions Include: cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, severe muscle spasms, or any debilitating condition as recommended by a D.C. licensed doctor.

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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