Legalized Marijuana By State

Marijuana can be legally purchased for recreational use in 18 states and for medicinal uses in 36 states.

Marijuana is legal for medical use in 36 states and the District of Columbia, and legal for recreational use in 18 states. Only 14 states still outlaw both recreational and medical marijuana use.

Marijuana is still a Schedule I illegal substance according to the U.S. federal government, but state laws can take precedence over federal laws. A 2019 national poll reported 66% of American adults support marijuana legalization.

The end of the 20th century saw marijuana become stigmatized due to the War on Drugs, but in the decades since, lawmakers and voters have taken steps to legalize and decriminalize marijuana.

Legal Medical Marijuana By State

Today, 36 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized adult use of medical marijuana:

  • Alaska
  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • 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
  • West Virginia

The most recent states to legalize medical marijuana are South Dakota, New Mexico, and Arizona, where voters passed a recreational marijuana ballot measure in 2021.

The FDA approves medical cannabis use to treat two rare forms of epilepsy. At the state level, medical marijuana may be prescribed to treat chronic pain, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and many other conditions.

Legal Recreational Marijuana By State

A national shift on recreational marijuana legalization began in 2012, when Colorado and Washington lawmakers legalized recreational marijuana use for adults. Since 2012, many states have passed recreational marijuana legalization through ballot initiatives, or popular votes.

Marijuana legalized through voter ballots may not see widespread use for months or years, due to the obstacles in regulating marijuana policies for dispensaries, retail sales, and taxation. The most recent states to legalize recreational marijuana use include New Mexico and Connecticut.

In 2018, Vermont lawmakers passed a legal marijuana law, marking the first time the drug was legalized with the passing of a bill.

Decriminalized Marijuana In The U.S.

Decriminalizing refers to reduced or eliminated prison sentences when caught possessing marijuana. Previously, marijuana possession could result in a prison sentence.

Today, marijuana possession is decriminalized in 27 of the 50 states. In these states, first time possession of marijuana is no longer subject to prison sentences. Instead, a person may pay a fine that varies depending on the state and amount possessed.

States where marijuana possession is a criminal offense may have alternatives to prison time, such as a court-ordered treatment program or community service. Repeated offenses may still result in prison time or a lasting criminal record.

Illegal Marijuana By State

Some states have legalized CBD oil in small doses. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a substance present in marijuana. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), marijuana’s second primary ingredient, CBD does not cause psychoactive effects.

States where CBD oil is legal, but marijuana is illegal, include:

  • Texas
  • Alabama
  • South Carolina
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky

In states where marijuana is legal, there are still restrictions on the drug’s usage. Americans under 21 and minors cannot possess or ingest marijuana legally. Driving or operating machinery after taking marijuana may have legal, personal, and financial consequences.

Marijuana Use Disorder

While marijuana is legal in many parts of the U.S., it has a high potential of abuse and negative side effects. Long-term marijuana use can cause addictive behaviors and mental health issues, and it can be difficult to quit marijuana without professional treatment.

Contact Northeast Addictions Treatment Center to learn about our marijuana use disorder treatment programs.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

Published on

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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