Marijuana Legalization: A State-by-State Guide to Legal Weed

Although medical marijuana had become acceptable to the society in the US much earlier, the use of recreational marijuana always came along with a taboo. According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, marijuana continues to be a Schedule 1 substance. This implies that it has a high potential for abuse and has the ability to cause severe psychological effects.

However, the States in their individual capacity have tried to strike a chord with the general public by legalizing the use of recreational marijuana as well. Colorado became the first State in the US to do so in 2012 and found itself embroiled in controversies and a lot of hue and cry.  Come 2019, there are 10 States in the US that have legalized marijuana completely, with its acceptability increasing rapidly across the country. Let us read ahead to find out more about each individual State.

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This state saw the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2015, which was based on a voter referendum. As per the legislation, it is legal for a resident of Alaska above 21 years of age to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana. They can also grow up to 6 plants for using it personally. Alaska has considered setting up a State bank to provide loans to marijuana businesses to fortify the industry. This is important as most banks fear to pass on the loan facilities to the industry due to its federal stature. Besides, Alaska is set to become a ‘sanctuary state’ for marijuana vendors, owing to new and favorable legislation.


Similar to the laws of Alaska, the use of recreational marijuana became legal in California in 2016. Recreational weed shops have been functioning there since January 1, 2018. In order to provide redressal to the convicts of marijuana-related laws in force earlier, California has promulgated new laws to release them.


Having passed an amendment in 2012, Colorado gave a nod to the use of recreational marijuana in the state. Although one can go grow up to 6 marijuana plants, only 3 should be mature at one point in time. Anyone above 21 years can possess an ounce of marijuana, however, there is a prohibition in public use of it.


After a voter referendum, marijuana became legal in Maine from the year 2016 onwards. A resident of age 21 years and above can possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Maine is known to focus on the spreading of the use of medical marijuana by opening up more dispensaries and increasing the access of the patient to it. The retail shops for marijuana are set to open by the spring of 2019.

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Recreational marijuana legalization came out in Massachusetts in 2016. The state is also working towards expunging the past convictions due to use and possession of marijuana.


Michigan passed laws to legalize marijuana consumption as a whole in 2018, a few years after medical marijuana was given the nod. Not only have patients benefited out of the friendly laws, but recreational use has also soared over the past few months.


A successful voter referendum in 2016 paved the way for the promulgation of marijuana legislation in 2017. Similar to the laws in other states, a resident of Nevada who has obtained the age of marijuana can legally possess 1 ounce of marijuana and can grow 6 plants at a given time, provided they live over 25 miles away from the retailers.


With the favorable laws for marijuana passed in 2015, Nevada allows possessing up to 8 ounces of marijuana in private property. However, public consumption is still outside the scope of the laws. Nevada is actually the first state to decriminalize the possession of marijuana all the way back in 1973. A resident can cultivate 4 plants at a time within the territorial limits of the state. In order to increase, you should resort to the system of hydroponic growing of marijuana. It is also recommended to prune these plants which is one of the best ways of maximizing their yield. and using and pruning methods to increase their yield. It is a highly fruitful exercise and bears fantastic results.


Vermont achieved a historic feat after becoming the first state to legalize weed on the basis of legislation and without the role of a public referendum. As per an article, the recreational use became legal beginning from January 2018  in the state. Although one can grow 6 plants of marijuana at one time, the mature ones should not exceed two as per the legislation. Vermont allows for marijuana growing and possession but has prohibited its sale and consumption in public. Only the patients can go to the dispensary to get their hands on medical marijuana.

Washington DC

Washington also passed a law in favor of marijuana use in 2014. However, it bars the sale and use of marijuana in public. Despite that, the possession of marijuana up to the weight of 2 ounces and partaking in its growth falls within the purview of the law. 

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The current mood in the US tilts in favor of marijuana legalization. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2018, about 62% of the people in the US support the laws friendly to marijuana. Amongst the biggest supporters are the millennials, with a whopping 74% of them standing in favor of the marijuana conducive laws. Due to its high quality, Ontario cannabis has fast become popular amongst all classes of the public. In the political lineage, the Democrats are leaning towards the cause more in numbers than the Republicans are.

Thus, The incumbent President of the US, Donald Trump, has taken a tough stance on marijuana legality. The party in power has reiterated that the federal laws shall prevail over the laws of the states, even though they have legalized the use of marijuana. Barack Obama, on the other hand, handed more powers to the States to handle the marijuana legislation. However, the ever-increasing support for marijuana use seems to be doing well until now, with a slew of states legitimizing it in the year 2018.

That being said, the States are doing a lot to fasten the expansion of the marijuana industry. They resonate with the voice of the people and are increasingly adopting marijuana-friendly laws and legislation. Although it is to be seen how the other states change their laws in the future, the acceptability is flaring up day-by-day. This holds positive for the development of the industry in the future to come.

Author Bio

Jessica has been closely studying the cannabis industry trends from quite some time. Intrigued by the booming growth of this sector, she takes an interest in penning down her views providing quality insight on current marijuana trends, particularly medical cannabis.

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