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 [DM via Flickr]

Image Courtesy of [DM via Flickr]

On November 8, 2016, Arkansas passed Issue 6, a measure to legalize medical marijuana. While Issue 6 has gone into effect, doctors are not allowed to issue medical marijuana permits until July 2017 at the earliest. This slide will be updated to reflect those changes as more information becomes available.

Marijuana Legalization Status: Medical

Possession: Being caught with less than four ounces of marijuana as a first offense is a misdemeanor that is punishable by a maximum one year in prison and a possible $2,500 fine. Possessing any amount over four ounces, or any subsequent marijuana arrest, is an automatic felony that carries mandatory minimum sentences ranging from three years to a maximum of 30 years, depending on the amount. Potential fines range between $10,000 and $15,000.

Sale: Fourteen grams or less is a misdemeanor carrying a max one year prison sentence and possible $2,000 fine. The sale of any marijuana amount over 14 grams is also an automatic felony that carries the same sentencing and fine ranges as possession charges

Qualifying Medical Conditions Include: Cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, PTSD, severe arthritis, fibromyalgia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

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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