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Where Marijuana is Legal? State-by-State Guide

Where is Marijuana Legal? State-by-State Guide

Over the years, marijuana has become incredibly mainstream. Not just in the mainstream media, but many across the world are looking at the cannabis industry entirely different now. As more studies and research come to light, many benefits of marijuana are starting to go to the surface.


With that brings much confusion. Is marijuana legal? What states is marijuana legal? We will go over everything related to marijuana and where it’s legal.


Just know that rules and regulations change very frequently with the laws regarding marijuana, so continue to do your homework.

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, derives from the dried flowering tops, stems, leaves, roots, and seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. There are over 120 compounds called cannabinoids found in marijuana.

One of the primary compounds found in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. The primary psychoactive substance found in cannabis that has mind-altering characteristics is THC.

People have been using cannabis for years in several forms, such as vapes, joints, blunts, bongs, pipes, and so forth. Marijuana is now even found in popular beverages, foods, and snacks.

Using Marijuana

When a user smokes marijuana, the THC is rapidly absorbed into the user’s bloodstream and reaches the brain within just minutes.


For the following reason, we recommend users start very slowly when eating food with marijuana as the body absorbs the THC much slower. Your body can delay the effect, so consuming too much may result in a not so pleasant experience filled with anxiety, paranoia, and fear.


Your body produces similar cannabinoids to the THC and the other ones found in marijuana. Your natural cannabinoids that are produced in the body act like neurotransmitters sending chemical messages between nerve cells throughout your nervous system.


Your neurotransmitters affect areas in your brain that manage the concentration, coordination, memory, movement, pleasure, thinking, and the perception of time.


Marijuana is used by most people to achieve a feeling of relaxation and calm. Other users use marijuana to have a high-like feeling. Marijuana is known to produce changes in your mind and body in the following ways: a heightened sense of smell, taste, and vision; a more excellent feeling of emotions, and if you consume too much, you can feel anxiety, paranoia, fear, etc.

Is Marijuana Federally Legal?

Is marijuana Federally legal is the question that gets a bit tricky for marijuana users. Although medical marijuana laws have changed in over 40 states, weed is still marked illegal under federal laws. Americans For Safe Access stated, “The federal government regulates drugs through the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) (21 USC § 811), which does not recognize the difference between medical and recreational use of cannabis.”


Under the current federal laws, unfortunately, marijuana is still treated like all other controlled substances as a Schedule 1 drug.

What States is Marijuana Legal?

States That Have Medical Marijuana Legal

A licensed doctor is going to have to write a written recommendation if you’re looking to get medical marijuana. A qualifying condition is necessary for a doctor to recommend medical marijuana to you, along with some states requiring a medical marijuana ID card. Once you have the marijuana card, you’re able to go to local dispensaries to purchase marijuana.


There are currently 34 states in the United States that have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Those states include:

  • Alaska
  • 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
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia.

States That Have Recreational Use of Marijuana Legal

Some states have legalized marijuana recreationally intending to change one’s state of consciousness, often in a very positive way. In most states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, allow you to purchase marijuana at recreational dispensaries by anyone. You must be over 21 years or older with a valid government-issued ID.


Eleven states have currently legalized the recreational use of marijuana in the United States. Those states include Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois (beginning January 2020), Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

States That Have Decriminalized Marijuana

Although some states have not fully legalized marijuana, they felt that they should shorten the sentenced term if caught with the possession of marijuana. In States that have decriminalized marijuana, the laws have changed around what happens to someone when they get caught with possession of marijuana. Having possession of a smaller amount of marijuana doesn’t result in jail time much anymore.


Getting caught with much more significant amounts of marijuana, those who have been convicted multiple times, or get convicted for selling or trafficking marijuana, it will result in much harsher penalties.

A total of 15 states have currently decriminalized the use of marijuana. Those states include Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii (Goes Into Effect In January 2020), Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island. Each state has its list of regulations to follow, so make sure you read to see how harsh the penalties are.