State by State Overview of Marijuana Legality

In the past few years, the public discourse on marijuana and whether it should be legal has been rapidly shifting. Naturally, that’s great news for many people — but it can also be a bit confusing. So today, we’re going to talk about the marijuana legality status across the country. Whether it’s legal for medicinal or recreational purposes, we’ll bring you all of the information right here.

Before we get to our overview, we ought to define some of the terms we’ll be seeing. Obviously, the concepts of medicinal and recreational use need no clarification. Basically, these terms refer to whether you can use marijuana only as a medical treatment or for other purposes as well. The terms we wanted to define further are the concepts of legalization and decriminalization.

First of all, decriminalization refers to the freedom of personal use of marijuana, while the manufacturing of the drug remains illegal. Conversely, full legalization signifies that the possession, manufacturing, and use of marijuana are regulated and taxed. Now that we know the meaning of these terms, we can talk about the legal status of marijuana in the U.S.

Marijuana Legality by State

During the 2018 midterm elections, we saw some progress in the legislature as far as marijuana is concerned. Consequently, the states of Michigan, Missouri, and Utah all adopted laws that lead to the legalization of some forms of the drug. So let’s see how other states regulate the use of cannabis.

Even though we might think that the tides are turning when it comes to marijuana legalization, it’s a slow-going change. In fact, there are still 17 states where marijuana possession, use, and manufacturing is strictly prohibited. Those include:

  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi (with reduced criminalization)
  • Nebraska (with reduced criminalization)
  • North Carolina (with reduced criminalization)
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

As you can see, 3 of these states have reduced the harshness of the laws about marijuana. Aside from the states where marijuana use is banned, there are also 13 states where only medicinal use is legal. For example:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah
  • West Virginia

Basically, all of these states only allow marijuana use with a prescription and only in certain situations. Furthermore, there are also 10 states that allow medicinal marijuana use and have loosened marijuana laws:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island

Ultimately, only 10 states have enacted full legalization and regulation of marijuana:

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

Additionally, marijuana is also fully legal in the District of Columbia or Washington, D.C. Of course, D.C. isn’t actually a state but a federal district located between Maryland and Virginia. Still, even though the surrounding states haven’t legalized marijuana as of yet, it’s completely legal in the nation’s capital.

Complete Overview of Marijuana Legalization

Generally, if you live in one of the states that allow the use of marijuana, you may not realize how many states still have restrictive laws. Still, it’s good to see that many places around the country are taking note of the medicinal benefits of marijuana as well. As a result, we are actually seeing a wider acceptance of marijuana use.

Above all, we want to emphasize that although things seem to be progressing in the right direction, we still have a long way to go. However, we believe that we’ve achieved what we set out to do with this article. Instead of traveling around the country and possibly getting in trouble, you can simply check this article and know whether the state you’re going to has legalized marijuana.


Leave a Comment