Where Is Marijuana Legal? (US Edition)

Where Is Marijuana Legal? (US Edition)

Please note that this guide will be updated on a monthly basis, or when the situation changes internationally, so please link to this page and bookmark it if you want to stay up to date with legal cannabis internationally, I will also update the map.

If you live in a part of the US where smoking marijuana is still illegal, its easy to believe that cannabis will never be legal, even though it may seem obvious to you that it should be. Those of you that live in states where marijuana use is illegal will not yet know the delight of walking into a professionally run marijuana dispensary and buying your cannabis from a pretty girl, dressed in white like a pharmacist, this guide is for you.

US Marijuana Law Doesn't Make Sense Right Now

Presently we are in this crazy situation where legal marijuana dispensaries are being raided by Federal authorities, their products and profits confiscated by the DEA, even though they pay their taxes on time and do business legally. This huge gap between the national ban on marijuana at the Federal level and the legalization of marijuana at the state level is increasingly perplexing to many of those in the industry who want to take their work seriously and who go about their work in a professional way, but at the same time are treated as criminals by the government.

Right now you can pay the US Federal government your taxes as a marijuana producer, distributor or grower, but that doesn't stop you being raided by the same Federal government, which is completely fucked up when you think about it. Even worse (from an operational perspective, because the risk of getting raided was always the cost of doing business), if you own a marijuana or cannabis business, you will find it incredibly difficult to even open a bank account for your business and accept credit card payments from your customers as financial institutions struggle with the gap in legality between Federal and State law.

This confusion is leading to a situation where legal business people are forced to hoard their cash, money they make from marijuana. Most of them are now hiring ex-military and ex-police veterans as bodyguards to protect their burgeoning cash and crop piles.

The problem with this is that all of that cash makes businesses dealing in cannabis an attractive target for criminals. In 2014, two years before recreational use of cannabis in the state was legalized, the Denver police department logged more than 200 robberies on marijuana businesses. What is most worrying is that this trend of criminals preying upon legal marijuana business owners is going accelerate as legal marijuana businesses become increasingly licensed and visible, unless the authorities step in and protect marijuana businesses as they do any other.

What Do I Mean Legal?

Its important to first define what I mean by 'legal' and when we talk about legal cannabis, what we really want to know is if we can smoke it, grow it and sell it legally, without getting into trouble with the law and these are really three different things completely in the eyes of the law. Its also worth remembering that marijuana is completely illegal at Federal level, so I am talking about legality at the individual state level.

  • The states that I highlighted in GREEN on my map are places where you are able to legally cultivate marijuana, legally sell marijuana and legally consume marijuana for recreational or medical purposes.

  • The states that I have highlighted in YELLOW on my map are states where marijuana cultivation, consumption and sale is semi-legal and for medical use only, you need a bonafide medical card and local ID to buy and consume marijuana legally.

  • The states in RED on my map are the places where its totally illegal to grow, consume and sell marijuana in any way and you will probably get into serious trouble for doing so if you get caught.

Where Is Marijuana Legal In The United States Of America?

Completely Legal: Right now the legal cultivation, consumption and sale of marijuana for recreational purposes can only be found in just eight states and one federal district. In Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington the and federal District of Columbia you can transport consume and grow marijuana for recreational purposes, but you are restricted to only carrying an ounce (except for Maine where you can carry up to 2.5 ounces) at any given time and growing six plants (except for Alaska where you can grow up to 24 plants for personal use).

Semi Legal: A further twenty six states have kind of medical marijuana laws on their books and it is mostly legal to possess marijuana for medical reasons in these states, but some of them still class cultivation and sale of marijuana as a felony, even though they may tolerate medical use or have decriminalized personal possession. Most medical marijuana laws are inconsistent between different states, with differing laws between all of these semi legal states that makes it difficult to gain a clear picture of the state of legalisation. These semi-legal states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

Illegal: Happily personal possession of marijuana in small quantities is no longer considered a felony in any state, with every state in the US having decriminalized personal possession or treating it as a misdemeanour. However the cultivation, transport and sale of marijuana is still illegal in some states and there are people going to prison for a very long time who they are caught. These states where the cultivation and sale of marijuana is illegal are Iowa, Alabama, Texas, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Missouri, Utah, West Virginia, Idaho, Connecticut, North Carolina, Nebraska, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Kansas, South Dakota, Virginia, Wyoming, South Carolina and Indiana.

What about the native American reservations?

Back in 2015 the US Justice Department announced that it will no longer stop any native American tribes from growing, selling and consuming marijuana, even if they are within states that prohibit marijuana use. Effectively this means that native American reservations are sovereign entities when it comes to marijuana, with the laws concerning marijuana left up to individual tribes. So far just three tribes (according to wikipedia) have declared the sale of recreational marijuana to be legal, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, found in South Dakota, the Suquamish tribe and the Squaxin Island tribe, both found in Washington state. Other tribes, like the Wasco, the Walla Walla, and the Pauite found in Ohio are using marijuana cultivation as a way of boosting their local economy, but generally cultivation is tightly controlled on all reservations.

What about the American Territories?

The United States of America still has a few overseas territories that people tend to forget about, so they are worth mentioning here because they have such wildly differing marijuana laws. For example in Guam and Puerto Rico, medical marijuana use has been comely legalized and legislation covers the legal cultivation, consumption and sale of medical marijuana. In American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands and the US Virgin Islands marijuana is still totally illegal, although pro-legalization groups within these territories are active and determined.

I hope you found my article on legal marijuana interesting, if you think I made a mistake somewhere please let me know in the comments below and I will fix it. I intend to update this article as things change for legal marijuana in the US in either individual states or at federal level.



Smokebit is the secret stoner alter ego of an international business executive. By day he hustles in the corporate rat race, at night he champions marijuana paraphernalia, culture and legalization.

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