Marijuana Law Regulations in the Different States of the US

The United States has a better acceptance of cannabis during the last few years. Marijuana legalization is on the verge of national approval, and nothing can stop it now.

We are now on the cusp of federal marijuana legalization. Even then, there’s still a lot of confusion over rules about the marijuana dispensaries. So, how do you know what’s legal and what will put you in jail?

Today, we’re going to look at different marijuana laws and regulations at every state. We hope that these can give people a good idea about the ins and outs of these laws. These can give you a good overview of the codes you need to work-around.

Medical vs Recreational Marijuana

Before we talk about marijuana laws and regulations, we need to set a few definitions first. The most crucial part is to distinguish between medical and recreational marijuana. These will help dictate the level of use and how you deal with different laws.

Medical marijuana is cannabis used to treat different diseases and conditions. Much of medical marijuana needs an explicit prescription from doctors. There is also a limit to how much cannabis you can buy for a specific period.

Recreational marijuana, on the other hand, is cannabis for free use by consumers. The reason for consumption does not matter and can be one of many reasons. That includes psychedelic experiences, health benefits, and even curiosities.

Many states don’t differentiate between medical and recreational marijuana. Dispensaries will offer different cannabis strains, depending on your budget and needs. With every strain, you can experience something different.

Some states only allow a certain level of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. THC is the component of marijuana that gives it the psychoactive effect. States like Texas, for example, only allow hemp with less than 0.3% THC content.

Laws and Penalties for Marijuana Usage

As of the writing of this article, there are 33 states, together with the District of Columbia, that passed marijuana legalization laws. DC and 11 states adopted the most expansive legalization efforts across the board.

The states that allow for recreational marijuana include:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • DC
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Twenty-two other states are on board with medical marijuana or some form of cannabis products. There are, however, different restrictions that vary from state to state. It can be anything between age, limits per person, and amount per person.

Some states have a minimum age of 21 years old before you can enter a marijuana dispensary. In a few states, you can have a limit of up to 8 ounces at home.

As we said, you also can’t use your marijuana in places where the government has jurisdiction. That includes places like airports and local government buildings.

Penalties vary from state to state. They can be as little as a misdemeanor and can be as heavy as a felony.

Understanding the Limits of Marijuana Usage

Federal level marijuana regulations in the US are very vague. Under the Federal Law, use and possession of cannabis products are still under prohibition. The prohibition comes straight from the original Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

The Controlled Substances Act classifies cannabis products as Schedule 1 substances. Schedule 1 drugs are medications that fulfill three different considerations. These are:

  • The drug has strong potential for abuse
  • The drug has no accepted medical use in the United States
  • There is a lack of accepted safe use of the drug under medical prescription

Anyone involving themselves in growing, marketing, or distributing marijuana has a federal violation. It includes any marijuana dispensary out in the open.

Even then, the Federal government stays out of state-level as much as it can. It allows State governments to use their local laws to enforce in their jurisdiction. What does this mean for you?

Apart from a few exceptions like key Federal locations, the state will handle cannabis laws. You only need to look at the current standing marijuana regulations of the state where you live.

Let’s look at a few example cities like California, Nevada, Florida, New York, and Hawaii. These have different laws when dealing with cannabis products and marijuana dispensaries.

Cannabis in California

According to Marijuana law in California, Marijuana is legal since 1996 for medical use. Since 2016, it is also permissible to use marijuana at a recreational level. California is one of the most active states looking to make cannabis products.

As a result of the behavior, there are no limits to the use and growth of marijuana in California. You can even visit any of your favorite marijuana dispensaries to get cannabis.

California’s move decriminalized marijuana across the board. For companies who want to build their dispensary, they need to get a license.

Possession and use are not under regulation for adults aged 21 and above. Anyone aged 18 – 21 can only take medical marijuana. Driving vehicles under the influence of cannabis is illegal and classifies as a misdemeanor.

Cannabis in Nevada

Cannabis in Nevada became legal for recreational use since the start of 2017. Even back in 2000, Nevada allowed for medical cannabis products for people who stay there.

Nevada licenses growers and distributors at a state level. To support its growing licensed cannabis market, Nevada does not allow home cultivation. The only exception to this is if you are >25 miles away from the nearest marijuana dispensary.

The State laws allow Nevada residents to carry up to 2.5 ounces of consumable marijuana. It lasts for 14 days and, once consumed, you can buy some again. For at-home growers, there are a few regulations you need to follow.

If you want to do noncommercial growth, you can grow up to 12 plants irrespective of maturity. Driving vehicles under the influence of cannabis is illegal and classified as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Cannabis in Florida

Florida still bans recreational use of marijuana in the entire state. Medical cannabis products, on the other hand, are legal for the treatment of known diseases. Under Amendment 2, a patient can access cannabis through a physician’s approval.

Before the lifting of restriction in March 2019, Florida did not allow smoking of medical cannabis. Consumption of cannabis in other forms, however, was allowable by law. This provision went to courts and deemed it unconstitutional.

Cannabis in New York

Marijuana use in New York is illegal for recreational use if it has more than 0.3% of THC. There are no restrictions apart from age for medical use of the substance. Possession of small amounts of product went for decriminalization in July 2019.

Article 221 of the New York State Penal Law defines all the penalties for marijuana offenses. Possession of any form of marijuana under 25 grams is a violation. It is punishable by a fine between $100 to $250 and a 15-day jail sentence.

Higher amounts of marijuana in your possession can net you misdemeanor charges. Anything above 8 ounces nets you a felony charge.

Cannabis in Hawaii

While cannabis is popular in Hawaii as pakalolo (crazy tobacco), it is illegal for recreational use. Possession limits to medical use and will otherwise be a criminal infraction.

The local government of Hawaii regulates marijuana dispensary activity within its borders. For example, Act 241 allowed for the dispensation of medical marijuana. It assumes that the marijuana dispensary has the approval of the Department of Health.

The state aims to decriminalize the possession of small quantities of marijuana by 2020. In the current landscape, ownership has a minimum of 30 days of jail time. That includes a $1000 fine and a criminal record.

Learn More about Cannabis Products Regulation Today

Cannabis is sweeping the country because of its benefits. More people are now open to marijuana’s potential for our health. It, however, comes with sweeping marijuana law regulations growing and updating every day.

Marijuana regulation is a state-level issue. Follow your current state’s laws on cannabis and always stay updated with the latest news.

Written by Adrian Dimakis

Adrian Dimakis loves writing about everything tech, gadgets, travel and leisure as a full time editor at LearningRegistry. Adrian graduated from UCLA with a degree in journalism and marketing, and his work has appeared in publications including USAToday and The Boston Globe. When he's not testing gadgets and accessories, checking different online services, you can find him planning his next trip on a big paper world atlas with lots of pins. Adrian is also an avid consumer with an oddly deep love for finding amazing deals on amazing products.


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