Cannabis in America

The State of Weed: Marijuana Legalization State by State

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**Last Updated February 3, 2017 **

In recent decades, marijuana legalization has continuously evolved in the United States, as opposition against the drug continues to wane amidst new research on the drug's effects and criticism of the U.S.'s handling of the "War on Drugs." Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and 25 total states have legalized marijuana for medical use.

In November, a total of nine states voted on marijuana legalization. California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada all voted to legalize recreational marijuana. Arizona voters shot down their legal pot ballot measure. In addition, Florida, Arkansas, and North Dakota voted to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, while Montana voters chose to expand the parameters of their existing medical marijuana program.

The map below displays each state's current marijuana legalization status, from illegal to full legalized recreational use, as of February 3, 2017.

The State of Weed Map

According to Gallup polls, one in eight U.S. adults say they smoke marijuana and 58 percent of Americans believe marijuana should be legal in the U.S. As cannabis initiatives continue to find traction and make their way onto ballots, understanding the intricacies of each state's marijuana laws will become increasingly important.

Patients who use medical marijuana will need to know things like whether or not they can travel with the drug and use it in other states, and in cities where the drug is decriminalized mere fractions of an ounce could make the difference between low fines or substantial jail time. The following slide show contains information on each states' marijuana laws in regards to possessing, selling, and cultivating weed, although please note that this is intended as a basic resource and does not include the entirety of provisions in any given state. This is the "State of Weed."

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Image Courtesy of [Renée Johnson via Flickr]

Image Courtesy of [Renée Johnson via Flickr]

On November 8, 2016,  Maine passed Question 1, a measure to legalize recreational marijuana. While the law officially went into effect January 30, retail sales of cannabis won’t be allowed until Governor Paul LePage’s moratorium ends in February 2018. This slide will be updated to reflect those changes as more information becomes available.

Marijuana Legalization Status: Recreational

Possession: It is legal to possess up to two and a half ounces of marijuana for adults 21 years or older. Possessing more than two and a half ounces is a criminal offense, which can carry a max prison sentence of six months to 10 years, and max fines of $1,000 to $20,000.

Sale: Until the moratorium on sales ends, selling any amount of marijuana in Maine is a criminal offense, which can carry a max prison term of one to 10 years, and max fines of $2,000 to $20,000. Selling to a minor or near a school or a school bus incurs heavier penalties as well.

Cultivation: Adults may grow up to six mature plants and 12 immature plants. Growing more than is allowed is punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a $2,000 fine.

Qualifying Medical Conditions Include: Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia (wasting syndrome), cancer, chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, inflammatory bowel disease,  Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), seizures, severe muscle spasms, and severe nausea.

Research and analysis conducted by Law Street’s Cannabis in America Team: Alexis Evans, Alec Siegel, Anneliese Mahoney, and Kevin Rizzo.

Alexis Evans
Alexis Evans is an Assistant Editor at Law Street and a Buckeye State native. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a minor in Business from Ohio University. Contact Alexis at



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