Marijuana Laws by State

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What Is the Current Legal Status of Marijuana?

Ten years ago, you probably would not find yourself asking whether marijuana was legal or not. Today, laws governing the use, possession, and sale of marijuana have seen drastic changes. On a basic level, marijuana laws can be broken down into two general categories.

Federal Law. As far as the federal government is concerned, marijuana is illegal, plain and simple. While the different Attorney Generals have taken different stances on whether or not they will pursue various marijuana issues, such as medical marijuana, the law of the land is that it is a Schedule I narcotic and against the law to use, possess, or sell.

State Law. Here is where things get a little complicated. To make things a little more simple, there are three basic categories of state laws surrounding marijuana:

State-by-State Marijuana Laws

State

Possession

Sale

Notes

Alabama

Illegal

Illegal

Alabama does not tolerate marijuana for medical or recreational use.

Alaska

Misdemeanor

Medical

Alaska allows possession up to 4 ounces if it is in your residence. They also tolerate a small, limited number of cultivation for personal, medical use.

Arizona

Felony

Medical

Arizona tolerates the medical use of marijuana.

Arkansas

Illegal

Illegal

Arkansas takes a mostly traditional approach to marijuana enforcement, with a couple important caveats. In Fayetteville and Eureka Springs, citizens voted to make marijuana enforcement the lowest of their respective police forces priorities. There has also been a considerable movement towards the legalization for medicinal purposes.

California

Decriminalized

Medical

California treats less than 1 ounce of marijuana as a citable, civil infraction carrying no jail time.

Colorado

Legal

Legal

Colorado is currently structuring a regulatory framework around a recent amendment legalizing marijuana. Additionally, as of January 2014, individuals are permitted to have up to 6 plants (with no more than 3 matured).

Connecticut

Decriminalized

Felony

Individuals 21 and over possessing less than ½ ounce will be subject to fines and confiscation. Those under 21 face harsher penalties, including a suspended license.

Delaware

Misdemeanor

Medical

 

Florida

Illegal

Felony

A marijuana conviction may lead to license suspension.

Georgia

Illegal

Felony

Georgia has some rather harsh collateral consequences of a marijuana conviction. Any conviction will result in the suspension of ones drivers license.

Hawaii

Misdemeanor

Medical

Hawaii has decriminalized marijuana insofar as making 1 ounce or less simply a misdemeanor.

Idaho

Illegal

Felony

 

Illinois

Medical

Medical

As of January 2014, Illinois permits medical marijuana.

Indiana

Illegal

Illegal

Indiana qualifies possession or sale of 30 grams or less as a misdemeanor; increased penalties should be expected for larger amounts of marijuana.

Iowa

Misdemeanor

Felony

 

Kansas

Illegal

Illegal

 

Louisiana

Illegal

Illegal

 

Maine

Decriminalized

Medical

Maine has some of the more radical medical marijuana laws, shy of outright legalization. Possession of 2.5 ounces or less is punishable as a civil infraction. Additionally, in November 2013, citizens of Portland, Maine, flat out legalized possession of up to 2.5 ounces within the city.

Maryland

Decriminalized

Medical

Maine allows defendants who are accused of possessing 1 ounce or less to put forth the affirmative defense of "medical necessity."

Massachusetts

Decriminalized

Medical

Possession of 1 ounce or less is a civil infraction punishable by fine.

Michigan

Medical

Medical

 

Minnesota

Decriminalized

Medical

 

Mississippi

Decriminalized

Illegal

In Mississippi, the first time offender who possess 30 grams or less faces a fine. That individual may avoid arrest if a valid proof of identity is shown to the officer and the individual signs an agreement to appear in court.

Missouri

Illegal

Illegal

 

Montana

Medical

Medical

 

Nebraska

Decriminalized

Illegal

In Nebraska, possession for first time offenders is a civil infraction. Second and third offenses are misdemeanors, both of which may carry jail time.

Nevada

Decriminalized

Medical

 

New Hampshire

Medical

Medical

 

New Jersey

Medical

Medical

 

New Mexico

Medical

Medical

 

New York

Decriminalized

Illegal

 

North Carolina

Decriminalized

Felony

North Carolina has deemed possessing ½ ounce of marijuana as a "non-arrestable" offense.

North Dakota

Illegal

Illegal

 

Ohio

Decriminalized

Illegal

Ohio may permit voters to vote on the issue of medical marijuana in the near future.

Oklahoma

Illegal

Illegal

Oklahoma has some very severe penalties for marijuana use. Pursuant to statute, a person, who will be tested 2 hours after arrest, and who has any amount of marijuana in their blood, salvia, urine, will be jailed for no less than 10 days and no more than a year.

Oregon

Decriminalized

Medical

 

Pennsylvania

Illegal

Illegal

Pennsylvania also takes marijuana enforcement very seriously. Possession of 30 grams can result in up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine; more than that is punishable up to 1 year in jail and a $5000 fine.

Rhode Island

Decriminalized

Felony

Rhode Island deems possession of 1 ounce or less as a civil infraction.

South Carolina

Illegal

Illegal

 

South Dakota

Illegal

Illegal

 

Tennessee

Illegal

Illegal

 

Texas

Illegal

Illegal

 

Utah

Illegal

Illegal

 

Vermont

Decriminalized

Medical

Vermont punishes 1 ounce or less by civil infraction.

Virginia

Illegal

Illegal

 

Washington

Legal

Legal, with license

Anyone 21 and over may possess up to 1 ounce. Licensed growers may cultivate plants, however, individuals may not except for medicinal purposes.

Washington D.C.

Medical

Medical

 

West Virginia

Illegal

Illegal

 

Wisconsin

Illegal

Illegal

 

Wyoming

Illegal

Illegal

 

Should I Seek Legal Counsel?

Marijuana laws are in constant flux. The information above barely touches the tip of the iceberg for many states. If you have a question about the legality of marijuana in your area, it would be wise to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney or medical marijuana lawyer.

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Last Modified: 08-27-2015 11:12 AM PDT

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