Cannabis Laws State by State
In this blog, Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at the Rodriguez Law Group discuss cannabis laws state by state. The easiest way to break down marijuana laws by state is to put states into one of three groups.
The three groups are:
- Legalized recreational weed
- Medical marijuana only
- No marijuana allowed whatsoever
Even when legalized by a state, marijuana is illegal at the federal level. This means that the federal government still has a prohibition on marijuana; it can arrest and prosecute people for possessing, transporting, or selling marijuana.
For the typical consumer of marijuana, buying small amounts of weed in a licensed dispensary will not concern the feds. However, the federal government may get involved if someone transports marijuana out of a legal weed state, possesses excessive amounts, or has an unlicensed growing operation, the federal government may get involved.
Recreational Weed States
State-by-state cannabis laws are easy to find, but they are constantly changing, making many resources outdated. If you are wondering about the status of recreational marijuana in a specific state, you should do research on that state to make sure there have been no changes.
For example, in 2020, South Dakota voters passed a Constitutional Amendment to legalize recreational marijuana. In 2021, the South Dakota Supreme Court struck down this amendment, declaring medical marijuana to be illegal! It is up to you to do your research and make sure your information is up to date to avoid legal problems.
As of this writing, the states with fully legal recreational marijuana include:
- New Mexico
- New York
- New Jersey
- Washington D.C.
More and more states continue to legalize recreational marijuana. However, less than half of states allow it. Voters still have a long way to go to obtain legal weed in many states. Voters also need to persuade lawmakers to eliminate the federal prohibition on recreational weed.
Medical Marijuana Only States
Seventeen states have legalized medical marijuana, meaning you can possess a small amount of marijuana pursuant to a valid prescription. In these states, recreational use remains prohibited.
The medical marijuana only states include:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
Just like recreational marijuana laws, medical marijuana laws change rapidly. For example, in 2020, Mississippi voters passed a medical marijuana law, but it was struck down by the State Supreme Court, leaving medical marijuana illegal once again.
Smoke Free States
Despite the trend towards legalizing recreational or medical marijuana, there are still a number of states that do not allow any marijuana use whatsoever. If your state didn’t appear on one of the lists above, we consider it a “smoke free” state. This means possessing marijuana in any form is a drug crime.
Some of the smoke free states have legalized limited uses of CBD oils for medical purposes. Because marijuana laws vary so much from state to state, you always need to check local laws to remain compliant and avoid criminal charges. This is true whether your state appears on the recreational, medical, or smoke free list.
If you are facing legal problems related to marijuana in the Los Angeles area, contact a criminal defense lawyer for help.