Cannabis use remains a largely controversial topic. This is largely due to misconceptions about its use and effects as well as a lack of unbiased scientific research. Some states tolerate the use of the plant for medicinal purposes (along with a prescription from a registered practitioner), while others have legalised it. The legislation surrounding cannabis use in each state is not that clear-cut. Some states allow people to be in possession of marijuana up to a certain weight. Once you are over that weight limit, the possession once again becomes illegal. So how do you know?
Making sense of the different conflicting marijuana laws across the various states can be hard, especially since any regulations that allow it are actually in direct conflict with federal law which outright prohibits its use – medically or recreationally. With attitudes towards cannabis use constantly shifting, even legal experts have difficulty following which states allow the sale and use of medical marijuana. Let’s take a closer look at how you can begin to understand cannabis laws in the US.
1. Trying to Understand the Mishmash of Laws
If you’re here because you want to know if cannabis is legal in Nebraska or Idaho, the answer is easy. It’s just a big round “No”. But if your question is “is marijuana legal in New York, Colorado, or Maine”, the answer is a resounding “yes”. Each state has its own way of doing things, so when it comes to understanding legal marijuana use, we like to break things into three main categories. These are the sale of products that only contain CBD, the legal sale of medicinal marijuana, and lastly, the legal sale of marijuana.
The Sale Of Products That Only Contain CBD
CBD is one of the two main chemical components found in cannabis. Interestingly, most states allow the sale of CBD products even when the sale of marijuana products is prohibited. This is because CBD products don’t contain high levels of THC, which is what causes the “high” associated with cannabis. CBD is said to have the same medical benefits as THC-containing products without the high and other negative effects.
The Legal Sale Of Medicinal Marijuana
38 of the 50 states have legalised the medicinal use of cannabis. This is largely due to the increasing medical evidence that cannabis can help relieve pain as well as provide relief for unpleasant side effects caused by chemotherapy. In order to get access to marijuana in these states, you’ll need a doctor to recommend it. In some states, you’ll only be able to get a recommendation if you have cancer, while others are more lenient and allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for the treatment of anxiety and depression. After this, you’ll pay to get a cannabis card which will allow you to purchase cannabis from a dispensary.
Medicinal marijuana is legal in the following 38 states: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. It is also legal in the District of Columbia and four U.S. territories including Guam, the Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
The Legal Sale of Marijuana
The number of states legalising the use of recreational marijuana is growing. In 2022 there are already 19. They are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. But legalized doesn’t mean a free for all. Like other controlled substances, cannabis is only legal for sale to adults over the age of 21. You don’t need a medical card to buy it.
2. State Differences to Consider
While most of the states fit into the 3 categories we mentioned above, each state has its own way of doing things. This is especially important to consider when it comes to medicinal marijuana. Find out which forms of cannabis are legal. In Minnesota cannabis is only legal in liquid, pill, and vapour forms. It is illegal to smoke it which includes hitting a bong. The legal quantity you’re allowed to possess also differs from state to state. In Florida, you can have up to 4 ounces in your possession at a time, while in Arizona you can’t have more than 2.5 ounces. Another important thing that most people don’t know is that you can’t necessarily use your cannabis card outside of the state it was used in. Keep all of these things in mind.
3. Federal Law vs State Law
When it comes to marijuana, federal law, and State law clash. Federal law states that it is illegal to buy, sell, grow, and consume cannabis in any form. Federal law supersedes state law, but experts say that if it’s legal in your state, the chances of federal law enforcement prosecuting you are extremely low. Federal law enforcement agents are more concerned with getting unregulated, large producers who sell to anyone behind bars. The federal government simply doesn’t have the resources to interfere in state-run marijuana programs.
4. Follow the Rules
If marijuana is legal in your state, you need to stick to the rules your state has in place around it. This will keep you out of any serious legal trouble. Don’t smoke and drive. Rather medicate once you have reached your destination. Make sure that you absolutely do not cross state lines with cannabis in your possession. If you are traveling somewhere you need to fly, even if it’s from one state to another, buy your medical marijuana when you get there. You’ll want to make sure that they recognize your medicinal card. If not, you’ll need to make the necessary arrangements beforehand. Do not buy cannabis from untrusted and untested sources. State licensed providers are thoroughly tested for quality and purity, so you won’t get all sorts of weird chemicals and toxic metals in anything you buy over the counter.
Each state has its own rules that its inhabitants must abide by. When it comes to cannabis consumption, it’s important to read up about a state’s specific legislation so that you can avoid any issues with law enforcement. We hope that this has cleared up some of the confusion you may have around the different cannabis laws across the states and that you have a better understanding of which states allow what.