Marijuana Legalization Status in the USA by State

When it comes to the Cannabis Legalization Status in the USA by State, the situation is quite sticky. Marijuana possession and usage varies from state to state, with some allowing for limited medicinal use while others enabling full recreational usage. Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana is listed as a Schedule I Substance, which is the legislation’s highest classification.

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Indeed, marijuana legalization is something that’s dealt with in the United States on a case-by-case (or perhaps even state-by-state) basis. In the United States, the transportation, cultivation, sale, possession, and use of marijuana under federal law is illegal, but the federal government announced that states can decriminalize recreational or medical use of marijuana under their jurisdiction, but with the caveat of having a cannabis regulation system in place.

Several States and Their Take on the Marijuana Legalization

Alaska (Legal): Marijuana was legalized in Alaska. Measure 2 is what Alaskan voters approved of in order to legalize the sale, possession, and use of cannabis for recreational purposes. Adults aged 21 and above can grow up to six plants (no more than three mature) and possess an ounce of the plant that’s banned in many other states in the U.S.A.

Colorado (Legal):Non-medical use, possession, and sale of marijuana have been approved on November 6, 2012 for Colorado, plus a new regulatory framework is currently pending creation. Meanwhile, according to the new law, private growing of up to six marijuana plants are allowable without penalty as long as no more than three of them are mature, just like with Alaska.

Washington (Legal):In Washington, it’s legal to sell marijuana even though according to federal law, marijuana has high potential for abuse and and has no established medical use (which is funny, since most states claim it can be used for medicinal purposes). When it comes to the legalization of cannabis, Washington is one of the vanguard states, legalized by Initiative 502 wherein all producers, distributors, and sellers of cannabis require licenses, plus anyone over 21 should have permits to carry an ounce of it. No personal growing can be done save for medicinal use and only licensed growers can commercially grow it.

Arizona (Medical Use Only): The medicinal usage of cannabis was approved in the State of Arizona in November of 2010. Arizona joins the ranks of states like California, Vermont, Maine, Maryland, and Illinois as one of the medical marijuana states or as part of the places in the US where medical use of marijuana is allowed. The law that made it all possible was called Proposition 203, and it was passed by Arizonian voters with 50.13% of the vote.

Maine (Medical Use Only): 62% of the population of Maine voted yes on Question 2 on November 2, 1999, which led to the legalization of cannabis. More or less a decade later, on May 1, 2009, the state went further in the decriminalization of cannabis after its governor, John Baldacci, put his signature on legislation LD 250 that turned possession of about 2.5 ounces or less of weed a civil infraction with reduced punishment. Then 67% of Main voters in Portland passed Question 1 on November 5, 2013 that legalized possession of the same amount of marijuana within Portland city limits.

California (Medical Use Only):Back in July of 1975, Senate Bill 95 was enacted by Governor Jerry Brown. It’s an act that reduced penalties for possession of an ounce of marijuana to a citable misdemeanor. From there, in November 5, 1996, California became the first U.S.A. state to legalize medicinal use of marijuana thanks to the passing of Proposition 215 by 56%. Furthermore, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 1449 on September 30, 2010, which decriminalized possession of an ounce or less of cannabis as a civil infraction punishable by a $100 fine and with no jail time.

Maryland (Medical Use Only):A maximum of $100 in fines will be put on individuals who can prove that their marijuana possession is a medical necessity according to statue. Defendants who possess an ounce of cannabis or less are allowed to raise a defense against the charge if they have proof that they suffer from some sort of medical condition that necessitates marijuana usage to reduce that pain. It was then thanks to Governor Martin O’Malley signing two pieces of marijuana reform on April 14, 2014 that led to further marijuana decriminalization.

According to the legislation, named SB 364, the possession of 10 grams of cannabis or less will lead to a $100-fine civil infraction for the first offense. The second time you’re caught, you have to pay a $250 fine. The third time you’re caught, you have to pay a $400 fine plus a requirement to undergo drug rehabilitation. Meanwhile, HB 881 legalizes the production, sale, and possession of medicinal cannabis. It also allows a commission to license patience, doctors, and dispensaries for the sake of distribution management. Because these laws weren’t in effect until October 1, 2014, prosecution of any cannabis amount will be prosecuted prior to that date.

Vermont Medical Use Only):As for Vermont, it legalized medical marijuana usage after Governor James Douglas announced the passing of Senate Bill 76 without his signature required. This law got a further expansion in June of 2007 when Senate Bill 7 was passed without the signature of the governor once more. Afterwards, on June 6, 2013, Governor Peter Shumlin put his signature on Legislation HB200 that reduces the possession of an ounce of marijuana as a civil infraction rather than a major offense.

Illinois (Medical Use Only): Back in 1978, Illinois passed the Cannabis Control Act. It is also one of the medical marijuana states and technically legalizes medical marijuana usage. However, the caveat here is that action is required from two state departments… the State Police and Human Services… in order to become an actuality. Neither of them took action, though. Then, on August 1, 2013, Governor Pat Quinn put his signature on the bill legalizing medicinal cannabis, with the law taking full effect on January 1, 2014.

Florida (Felony):In Florida, possession of marijuana is a felony that results in suspension of your driver’s license for a year. This law is still in effect as of July 1, 2014. According to the “Charlotte’s Web” law that was passed as part of the Florida Statutes of 2014, the Compassionate use of Low-THC Cannabis was allowed. Among the requirements would be a dispensing organization, a genus of cannabis with 0.8% or less tetrahydrocannabinol and more than 10% cannabidiol weight for weight, and the assurance that it’s only used for medicinal purposes only.

Idaho (Felony): As for Idaho, you can be imprisoned for up to a whole year for mere possession of three ounces or less of weed. If the quantity of marijuana in your possession exceeds three ounces but less than a pound, this is a felony that can lead to you ending up in jail for five years and a hefty fine of $10,000.

Wyoming (Illegal): You have the maximum fine of $100 and 90 days of prison when caught under cannabis influence in Wyoming. As for possessing marijuana weighing three ounces or less, you can face a one-year prison sentence and be fined a maximum of $1,000.

Alabama (Illegal): You will be charged with “Possession in the Second Degree, § 13A-12-214”, which is classified as a misdemeanor, if you’re a first-time offender when it comes to personal usage of cannabis, which is in accordance to the Alabama Code. What this means is that you can be penalized with a $6,000 fine and a whole year of jail (which can be suspended with an ordered probation) if you’re caught with marijuana in Alabama. If you’re a seller of the illicit substance, you’re in even deeper trouble with more dire penalties and longer imprisonment periods.

If you have the intent to sell or have possession of cannabis for non-personal use, then you’ll be charged with “Possession in the First Degree, § 13A-12-213”. This also applies to second and repeat personal usage offenses. It’s a felony rated Class-C and you can be punished with jail time from a year to a decade (with a mandatory minimum one-year-and-one-day imprisonment that’s unsuspendable by even a judge) as well as a fine of $15,000. If you’ve sold the marijuana and you’re caught, you can face two years to two decades of imprisonment with mandatory minimum of two years that’s also unsuspendable by a judge as well as a $60,000 maximum fine.

Indiana (Illegal): While it’s still illegal to have weed in Indiana, there were amendments intended to reduce penalties for simply possessing cannabis (namely IC 35-48-4 amendments that came to effect on July 1, 2014), particularly when it came to laws dealing with sale, cultivation, and possession of marijuana. However, the state also made punishment and penalties for the possession for the sake of delivery and outright delivery of the gateway drug depending on the circumstances. To be more specific, drug pushers could be faced with Alabama-like penalties like a $10,000 fine and a minimum of two to eight years of jail time.

The legalization movement in the USA is moving forward quickly. This list might get outdated very quickly soon. I hope so! 🙂