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A Guide to U.S. Marijuana Laws by State - Part One: Stay Informed


Although cannabis possession is illegal under federal law in the United States, marijuana laws by state vary greatly. Local legislation can change regularly, and the election in 2020 impacted the cannabis laws by state once again. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 is the legislation keeping cannabis prohibited at the federal level as a Schedule I drug. Most states, however, allow cannabis use for medicinal purposes, or at the very least, the substance is decriminalized.

Staying up to date with each state’s legislation is not easy. To help you out, we organized the most important regulations and the marijuana possession laws by state. Therefore, if you plan to move or visit any other state, make sure to bookmark this article and use it as a cheat sheet for marijuana laws by state.

Medicinal cannabis is already legal in many states.


In the state of Alabama, cannabis is only legal for medical use, with limited THC content. Cultivation is illegal, and possession of recreational cannabis can be considered a felony. According to the legislation in Alabama, the first time someone is caught in possession of marijuana, they will be punished by law enforcement as a misdemeanor. However, if caught again or intend to sell, there can be felony charges. CBD oil is allowed with a maximum amount of 3% THC.


In Alaska, recreational and medical cannabis has been legal since 2015. Alaska was one of the first states to legalize recreational cannabis. Citizens over 21 years old can carry up to 1 oz. or 28 grams and grow up to 12 plants indoors. However, there must be at least two adults per household above the age of 21.


In the state of Arizona, medical use has been legal since 2010. However, in  November 2020, recreational use was also legalized when voters approved Proposition 207. Local dispensaries will start selling cannabis to anyone – not only medical marijuana card patients – after March 2021. Adults will be allowed to grow up to 6 plants in a household and transport up to 1 oz. or 28 grams.


In Arkansas, cannabis use is only legal for medical purposes. Recreational use is illegal, and carrying up to 3 oz. is considered a misdemeanor. However, some cities like Eureka Springs and Fayetteville voted for cannabis to be their latest priority law enforcement. Cannabis-impaired drivers will face a mandatory punishment of a six-month suspension of their driver’s license.


California was the first U.S. state to legalize medical marijuana back in 1996. Since 2016, recreational use has been legal, along with distribution and sale. Adults are allowed to carry up to 1 oz. or 28 grams and grow up to six plants per household. Farms with commercial licenses have no limit on the number of plants they can grow. To grow cannabis at home in California, you only need to be over 21 years old, and you don’t need a special permit.


Colorado was the second state in the U.S. to legalize the possession and recreational use of marijuana in late 2014. Adults can grow up to six cannabis plants and carry up to 1 oz. You can also give adults over 21 years old a gift of up to 1 ounce in Colorado. As of 2016, any adult can now carry one ounce of marijuana without being a resident.


In Connecticut, cannabis is only legalized for medical use. Still, it is decriminalized, and carrying less than a half-ounce will only result in confiscation and the payment of fines for those over 21. Citizens under 21 years old can have their driver’s license temporarily suspended as a sanction. Transporting any quantity over this is considered a felony.

Medical marijuana patients can purchase cannabis in most states around the U.S.


In the state of Delaware, marijuana is decriminalized and only legal for medical use. Only medical marijuana patients are allowed to carry and cultivate small amounts. Since 2015, adults carrying up to one ounce of marijuana will be fined by law enforcement for committing a civil infraction. Anyone under the age of 21 carrying marijuana, however, is breaking the law.


In Florida, recreational cannabis is illegal, although medical use was legalized in 2016. Possession of up to 0.7 ounces can be punished by law. Offenders can face up to a year in prison, along with fines, and driver’s license suspension.


In the state of Georgia, cannabis is illegal for recreational purposes. It is legal for medicinal purposes only in oils containing less than 5% THC content. However, some cities like Savannah, Atlanta, Clarkston, Kingsland, and others have decriminalized cannabis or reduced penalties to small fines. The decriminalization at the municipal level is for adults carrying up to one ounce of marijuana.


In Hawaii, cannabis has been decriminalized since January 2020; however, only up to 0.1 ounces or 3 grams is permitted. Law enforcement can punish people with a small fine. Medical marijuana cardholders are entitled to grow cannabis and transport it for personal use.


Idaho is the only U.S. state where cannabis is prohibited for all uses. The only substance allowed for medicinal purposes is CBD oil, but it must include no THC content. Any CBD oil that doesn’t have 0% THC is illegal. Cultivation is considered a felony, and possession of up to 3 ounces or 85 grams can be punished as a misdemeanor with up to one year in prison, plus a fine.


In the state of Illinois, cannabis is legal for medicinal and recreational purposes. Since January 2020, adults over 21 years old have been able to possess up to 30 grams (1.1 oz) of marijuana. Medical cannabis patients can grow up to five plants for personal use. For recreational use, only those with a commercial growing license are allowed to grow.

Medical marijuana cardholders are usually allowed to carry small amounts of cannabis.


In Indiana, the only form of cannabis allowed by law is CBD oil, provided it contains less than 0.3% THC content. Growing is illegal, and recreational use is considered a misdemeanor that can be punished with up to six months in prison, along with fines.


In the state of Iowa, cannabis is illegal for recreational use, and any form of cannabis oil for medical use should contain less than 3% THC. All types of cultivation are considered a felony. CDB oil is allowed as a treatment for a small list of health ailments.


In Kansas, recreational cannabis use is considered a misdemeanor, and any type of cultivation is illegal. For medical use, CBD oil must not contain any trace of THC, although it is allowed for any use and not only selected health issues.


In the state of Kentucky, consumption of recreational cannabis, carrying up to 8 ounces, or growing up to five plants is considered a misdemeanor. CBD is allowed for medicinal use, but only as an oil.


In Louisiana, recreational cannabis use and cultivation are illegal, but medicinal use is allowed. Only medical marijuana patients can carry cannabis. Although the state hasn’t yet decriminalized cannabis possession, criminal penalties have been significantly reduced. Recurrence in possession offenses, however, can increase penalties.


In the state of Maine, recreational cannabis has been legal since 2016, and medical cannabis since 1999. Adults can carry up to 2.5 oz. or 71 grams with them and grow three mature plants without a commercial license. In 1976, Maine was the first state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

States that decriminalized possession will not charge people carrying small amounts of marijuana.


Maryland decriminalized the possession of 10 grams of marijuana or less in 2014. Although recreational use and cultivation are illegal, medical marijuana patients can carry small amounts of cannabis.


Recreational and medicinal use of cannabis is legal in the state of Massachusetts, where adults can carry up to 1 oz. or 28 grams and grow up to six plants per household without a commercial license. Recreational use was approved in 2016, and medical marijuana has been legal in this state since 2012.


In the state of Michigan, recreational cannabis has been legal since 2018. People over the age of 21 can carry up to 2.5 oz. or 70 grams. You can also grow up to 12 plants per household without a commercial license. Medical cannabis has been legal in Michigan since 2008.


Minnesota decriminalized recreational cannabis use in 1976, but since 2014, only medical marijuana patients are legally allowed to carry and cultivate the plant. Carrying up to 1.5 oz, or 42.5 grams of marijuana is considered a petty misdemeanor. The medical cannabis program in Minnesota is one of the most restrictive in the country, only qualifying patients diagnosed with specific ailments.


Only medical marijuana is legal in Mississippi. Patients can grow or carry up to 2.5 ounces or 70 grams. Ever since 2014, CBD has been permitted in the state, and the 2020 poll legalized a medical cannabis program. Although recreational marijuana use and possession have been decriminalized since 1978, adults carrying a small amount will not be jailed if it’s a first offense.


In the state of Missouri, cannabis has been decriminalized since 2014. The state legalized CBD in 2014 and approved a medical marijuana program in 2018. Possession of small amounts of marijuana in this state is considered a misdemeanor crime, and people caught with up to 0.35 oz. or 10 grams will not face jail time if it’s a first-time occurrence.

Interested to find out about the remaining states? Continue reading the marijuana laws by state in part 2.

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