Where Weed Is Legal, & Where It’s Not: A Rundown of the Laws In the United States

Some states are far from legalizing weed, while others are eager to update their laws.

By Phil Dubley Last Updated: February 01, 2024
Last Updated: February 01, 2024

In the last decade, the US has seen many states change their weed laws to allow for recreational or medical use. Politicians are progressively changing their minds and moving towards legalization as more research becomes available.

In this article, I will go through local regulations to discover which states have legalized weed and how they did it. Moreover, I will explain the differences in legal status and answer the question of whether weed is federally protected or not.

Related Guides: Cannabis 101 | List of Legal Psychaoctive Substances the US

What Are the Current Federal Laws for Marijuana?

As confusing as it may be, weed is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

This means that the government considers it to have no medicinal value and a high potential for abuse. So, no, weed isn’t legal at the federal level.

The federal agencies used to be strict about enforcing the Act, but they became softer in recent years. This approach led to many states legalizing weed for recreational use, which was unthinkable two decades ago.

In 2022, the current administration asked its health experts and legal officials to review the country’s stance on weed, hinting at positive changes in the near future.

Related: Delta 9 THC— Ultimate Guide to the World’s Most Popular Psychoactive Drug

Summary of United States Cannabis Laws

StateMarijuana Legal StatusRelevant Cannabis Bills
AlabamaMedical Only 💊SB 144
AlaskaMedical & Recreational ✅SB 27
ArizonaMedical & Recreational ✅SB1098, SB1715
ArkansasMedical Only 💊HB1640
CaliforniaMedical & Recreational ✅SB94, Health and Safety Code, AB1954, AB1885, AB2188, Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, Proposition 31, AB 45
ColoradoMedical & Recreational ✅Colorado DPHE (Statement), SB22-155
ConnecticutMedical & Recreational ✅SB1201
DelawareMedical & Recreational ✅SB266, HB371, HB372, Delaware Hemp Program
FloridaMedical Only 💊SB 1020
GeorgiaMedical Only 💊Georgia Hemp Act, HB458
HawaiiMedical Only 💊HB1243, SB 3141, SB 669
IdahoIllegal ❌SB1246, HB446
IllinoisMedical & Recreational ✅SB 2298, Illinois Industrial Hemp Act (Statement), Illinois Department of Agriculture Statement
IndianaIllegal ❌SB94, Health and Safety Code, AB1954, AB1885, AB2188, Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, Proposition 31, AB 45
IowaMedical Only 💊IOWA Hemp Act, SF73
KansasIllegal ❌Kansas Industrial Hemp Act, HB 2540
KentuckyIllegal ❌SB 170
LouisianaMedical Only 💊Louisiana Industrial Hemp Act, HB 758, HR269, HB988, HB135, HB137
MaineMedical & Recreational ✅Maine Hemp Law
MarylandMedical & Recreational ✅SB 788, HB 1204
MassachusettsMedical & Recreational ✅MA Hemp FAQ, Massachusetts Department of Health & Agriculture Statement, HB 146
MichiganMedical & Recreational ✅HB4517, Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency
MinnesotaMedical & Recreational ✅Minnesota Statutes of Substances Derived from Hemp, HF 4065, HB 3595, HF 100
MississippiMedical Only 💊SB 2725, HB338, Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act
MissouriMedical & Recreational ✅Missouri Department of Agriculture, HB 2704, SB 209, Amendment 3
MontanaMedical & Recreational ✅Montana New Hemp Plan
NebraskaIllegal ❌Nebraska Hemp Farming Act, LB22
NevadaMedical & Recreational ✅SB49
New HampshireMedical Only 💊HB360, HB544, HB643
New JerseyMedical & Recreational ✅New Jersey Industrial Hemp Program
New MexicoMedical & Recreational ✅HB581, SB100, Special Session HB2
New YorkMedical & Recreational ✅SB854
North CarolinaIllegal ❌SB455, SB762, SB352
North DakotaMedical Only 💊HB1045
OhioMedical Only 💊Ohio Hemp Law, SB288
OklahomaMedical Only 💊Oklahoma Hemp Law, HB3439, SB1033, SB1737, HB2179
OregonMedical & Recreational ✅Oregon Hemp Law, HB3000
PennsylvaniaMedical Only 💊Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act
Rhode IslandMedical & Recreational ✅Rhode Island Hemp Law, The Rhode Island Cannabis Act
South CarolinaIllegal ❌South Carolina Hemp Program, H3803
South DakotaMedical Only 💊SB201, HB1292
TennesseeIllegal ❌Tennessee Hemp Act, HB715, HB0403
TexasIllegal ❌Texas Hemp Production Plan, SJR22, HJR91, HJR89, SB209
UtahMedical Only 💊HB385, SB0209
VermontMedical & Recreational ✅Revisit the Rule (Vermont), HB709, HB731, HB548
VirginiaMedical & Recreational ✅Production of Industrial  Hemp, Virginia Statement, SB591
WashingtonMedical & Recreational ✅Washington Hemp Program, HB 1463, HB1563, HB1581, HB1641, SB5767
West VirginiaMedical Only 💊West Virginia Code, HJR21, HB2091, SB90, SB546
WisconsinIllegal ❌Wisconsin Hemp Program
WyomingIllegal ❌Wyoming Hemp Program

States Where Weed is Fully Legal (Recreational + Medical) ✅

Over the past 3 years, 25 individual states (plus Guam) have opened up statewide marijuana laws that allow for both the recreational and medical sale of cannabis products. Laws vary in each state as per the limitations and taxes that come along with each program, but in all of these places you’ll find dispensaries that cater to the public.

You don’t need a medical license in these states to buy weed in these states.

The following states have fully legalized marijuana:


Alaska legalized weed in 2014. The law is similar to Colorado’s, with the difference that only three of the six plants can be fully grown. Most important, however, is the fact that public consumption is forbidden, so you can only use weed at home.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Alaska


Arizona passed Proposition 207 in 2020 as well. While it forbids public consumption, all adults can use and grow weed at home.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Arizona


In California, weed was only allowed for recreational use in 2016, 20 years after it was first permitted for medical purposes. According to the Department of Cannabis Control, the law lets you buy or give away up to an ounce of raw weed and eight grams in concentrated form. And if you have enough space, you can grow up to six plants.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in California


Colorado was one of the first states to legalize weed for recreational use, doing so in 2012. If you are over 21, you can carry and give away up to an ounce of weed. You can also cultivate up to six plants, but the law allows up to 12 per residence.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Colorado


Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed SB1201 in 2021. The allowed limit for possession is 1.5 ounces, but you can also store five ounces at home.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Connecticut


Despite the governor’s objections (and previous vetoes), the state legalized weed in 2023 with the Delaware Marijuana Control Act. The law permits possessing up to three ounces of weed, but growing plants is strictly forbidden.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Delaware


While it isn’t a state, Guam deserves to be on this list. The island legalized weed in 2019 with Bill No. 32-25, which allows adults 21 and older to carry an ounce of flower and grow six plants. However, only three can be mature at the same time.


Illinois’ weed law, the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, puts separate limits in place for residents and non-residents. The maximum amount of raw weed for residents over 21 is 30 grams, while the limit for concentrated cannabis and products with THC (up to 500 mg) is five grams.

For non-residents, the limit is half the residents’ amount, so 15 grams of raw weed and 2.5 grams in concentrated form or THC.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Illinois


Maine also legalized weed in 2016 but went beyond any other state by allowing up to 2.5 ounces — more than double the average amount. Users can also grow 12 plants, but only six can have flowers.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Maine


If you live in Maryland, you can possess up to 1.5 ounces of weed, according to HB 837. The state has contemplated resentencing people convicted of cannabis offenses.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Maryland


As with most states, Massachusetts only lets you carry an ounce of weed outside, according to HB 3818. However, you can store up to 10 ounces at home and grow a maximum of 12 plants per household.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Massachusetts


In 2018, Michigan passed the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, legalizing weed. The law allows people over 21 to grow up to 12 plants per residence and 2.5 ounces of raw weed. The state is more permissive regarding concentrated weed, allowing 15 grams — which is perfect if you prefer dabbing.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Michigan


Minnesota also legalized weed in 2023. According to the governor, the state will create an agency to regulate the local weed industry and revise verdicts for herb-related convictions.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Minnesota


On Election Day 2022, people chose to legalize weed in Missouri through HB 2704. According to the law, you can carry up to three ounces of cannabis, but you need a registration card to grow plants. Note, however, that this card allows cultivation for personal use only.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Missouri


Montana’s Bill 190 was also included in the 2020 ballot and passed. Now, users can carry up to one ounce of weed as long as they are over 21.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Montana


Nevada allows up to an ounce of weed and an eighth in concentrated form. As for the plants, the law is similar to Massachusetts: 12 plants per household and six plants per person.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Nevada

New Jersey

New Jersey was one of four states that put weed legalization on the ballot for Election Day 2020. The state already had legalized cannabis for medical use, so the law determined that the existing cannabis commission would regulate the herb for recreational use, including its trade and taxation.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in New Jersey

New Mexico

In New Mexico, thanks to Bill HB2, you can carry two ounces of weed and grow up to 12 plants at home. You can find the herb at any dispensary since it’s been allowed for sale since 2022.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in New Mexico

New York

New York’s 2021 Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act lets people over 21 carry up to three ounces of weed. People convicted for offenses related to the herb were pardoned, and their criminal records were deleted.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in New York


Oregon’s 2014 weed law is more lenient than in other states. Here, while you can only carry one ounce of raw cannabis in public, you can store up to eight at home. The law follows Washington’s example for edibles and weed in liquid form, letting you store 16 and 72 ounces of each, respectively.

And as usual, you have to be 21 or older to use weed.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Oregon

Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Cannabis Act has regulated taxation and commerce in the state since 2022. Users can grow up to three plants per adult and carry one ounce of weed.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Rhode Island


Vermont was unique because it only allowed cultivation and possession of weed initially, but not its sale. While Act No. 86 came out in 2018, the state only started giving commercial licenses in late 2022. You can carry one ounce of weed and grow up to six plants.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Vermont


Virginia passed Bill SB1406 in 2021. Since then, adults over 21 can carry one ounce of weed and grow up to four plants. However, the state hasn’t yet established a legal weed market, so if you’re looking to buy weed here, you’re out of luck.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Virginia


Washington followed Colorado’s lead and approved Initiative Measure No. 502 that same year. Once again, you can only carry an ounce of weed, but you can also have up to 16 ounces of solid edibles, seven grams of concentrates, and 72 ounces of weed infusions. Don’t think of growing plants at home, as that’s still illegal.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Washington

States Where Weed Is Only Legal Under Medical Programs 💊

In some states, weed is only legal if you use it for medical purposes. That doesn’t mean you can buy weed at a pharmacy; that’d be too easy. Instead, you need a doctor’s prescription, which means you must have a medical condition.

Every state has a list of qualifying conditions, but the following are the most common:

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)

Now, here’s the list of states where weed is legal for medical use:


Medical cannabis became legal in Alabama thanks to Bill SB46 in 2021. Patients must register with the state to access weed products and can only use up to 50 mg daily. It may not seem like much, but this amount can be life-changing for a person who needs it.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Alabama


The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016  allows patients over 21 to buy up to 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis every two weeks. In addition, registered dispensaries can’t sell weed products with more than 10 mg of THC.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Arkansas


Since 2017, SB 8A has allowed patients to use medical marijuana to treat certain diseases. Again, people need a doctor’s prescription indicating the patient has one of the state’s qualifying conditions.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Florida


Georgia’s laws punish possession of one ounce or less of weed with up to a year in jail. Any amount larger than that is punishable with up to 10 years in jail. The state permits the use of low-THC CBD oil for medical purposes.

Local municipalities including Atlanta, Savannah, Macon, Athens, and others have moved to go against the state laws and decriminalize marijuana.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Georgia


Medical cannabis has existed in Hawaii since 2000, thanks to the state’s Medical Marijuana Law. To get access, patients must obtain a doctor’s prescription. In addition, the state has decriminalized the possession of less than 3 grams of weed for recreational use.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Hawaii


Louisiana has also decriminalized weed for recreational use, according to SB 271. That means you won’t go to jail if you’re detained while carrying less than 14 grams of weed. Moreover, patients can access predetermined doses if they have a medical cannabis card.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Louisiana


Mississippi created a medical cannabis program through SB 2095 in 2022. Patients with qualifying conditions can apply for a medical marijuana card and access a list of approved weed products.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Mississippi

New Hampshire

According to HB 573 in 2013, patients can possess up to two ounces of weed, which they must purchase from a certified dispensary.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in New Hampshire

North Dakota

If you’re a resident of North Dakota and have one of the conditions listed in the state’s Compassionate Care Act, you can apply for medical cannabis. That way, you can obtain up to seven ounces of weed for medical use.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in North Dakota


Ohio’s HB 523 allows patients to use medical cannabis in edible, patch, and oil form. To access these products, you must have approval from a doctor certified by the state’s Board of Pharmacy. It’s important to note that smoking weed is illegal.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Ohio


According to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, Oklahoma residents over 18 can apply for a medical cannabis license. The only thing they need is a doctor’s prescription.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Oklahoma


Pennsylvania established the Medical Marijuana Program in 2016. Since then, patients with doctor-approved conditions can ask for a 90-day supply of cannabis for medical use.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Pennsylvania

South Dakota

South Dakotans can join the state’s Medical Cannabis Program if they have one of the qualifying medical conditions, including epilepsy, cancer, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and terminal illness.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in South Dakota


According to the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, adults over 21 can ask for a medical cannabis patient card, and those over 18 can also get one if they ask the Compassionate Use Board. There’s one condition, though: patients must have no drug-related criminal records.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Utah

West Virginia

Bill SB386 in 2017 kicked off the creation of West Virginia’s Medical Cannabis Act. As a result, cannabis is now available for medical use in all forms imaginable. You can find cannabis pills, oil, topical medications, tinctures, and even dermal patches.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in West Virginia

States Where Weed Remains Strictly Illegal

Despite the broad changes in weed legislation across the US, some states still have to catch up. They cite health concerns as a reason for not legalizing weed, but in most cases, the law is more concerned with punishing users than helping them.

Either way, the situation has begun to change — slowly but surely, many states are starting to allow THC for medical use.

Note that most states allow CBD made from hemp (cannabis with less than 0.3% THC), and many have not banned other hemp products like delta 8 THC, delta 10 THC, and others. 

Related: Hemp vs. Marijuana, In a Nutshell

The following states still have not legalized marijuana for any purpose — though some have decriminalized it:


If you’re caught carrying up to three ounces of weed in Idaho, you could spend up to a year in prison. The penalties are harsher for larger amounts, leading to five years in prison or a $10,000 fine. Meanwhile, the state has allowed CBD oil with less than 0.1% THC since 2021.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Idaho


Possessing weed in Indiana is a punishable offense leading to six months in prison or a $1,000 fine. Fortunately, the state is more permissive regarding delta-8 and CBD oil, as long as the latter doesn’t contain more than 0.3% THC.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Indiana


Using weed in Iowa can put you in jail for six months and give you a fine of up to $1,000. However, the state also has a strict medical cannabis program that lets a patient use up to 4.5 grams of THC in a three-month period.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Iowa


In Kansas, possessing 16 ounces or less of weed results in a class-B misdemeanor, and the penalty can be up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000. The law is even harsher for amounts larger than 16 oz — you get up to 3 ½ years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Kansas


Nebraska has reduced the penalty for marijuana possession to merely a civil infraction (as long as the amount is under an ounce). There have been ballots to legalize weed, but they were unsuccessful. Delta 8 remains legal. 

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Nebraska

North Carolina

North Carolina only allows cannabis for limited medical use, such as CBD oil, to treat epilepsy. The state has decriminalized the possession of half an ounce of weed or less.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in North Carolina

South Carolina

The only cannabis products allowed in South Carolina are CBD oil for epilepsy (Bill 1035, called “Julian’s Law”) and THCA hemp. 

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in South Carolina


Tennessee only allows CBD oil to treat severe medical conditions. Otherwise, using or carrying a small amount of weed is considered a misdemeanor.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Tennessee


Carrying up to two ounces of weed in Texas is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison. However, the state allows cannabis oil with less than 1% THC for medical use.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Texas


If you’re caught using weed in Wisconsin, you could end up with six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The only cannabis product allowed here is a low-THC oil for medical purposes only.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Wisconsin


Wyoming has one of the harshest weed laws in the country. So far, the only hint of hope is that a 2015 law allowed CBD to treat seizures, but the future doesn’t look that good.

All Psychoactive Substance Laws in Wyoming

A Brief History of Weed Laws in the United States

The history of weed’s legality in America is… complicated, to say the least.

Initially, people only used weed to relieve pain, so lawmakers didn’t raise a lot of questions. But once recreational use took off and the herb’s psychoactive effects became well-known, they started banning it.

The first regulations placed on marijuana nationally were through the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. It was banned for every use in 1970 with the Controlled Substance Act, a policy that came about due to the War on Drugs — and is ongoing today. But, since then, many advocacy groups and institutions have tried to reshape marijuana’s public image.

Weed remained illegal in the US for nearly a century until California approved it for medical use in late 1996 — an act that set off a chain reaction resulting in other states revising theirs as well.

The next paradigm shift happened in the last decade when some states started allowing weed for recreational use. Several states, such as Colorado and Washington, had fully legalized it by 2012.

Unfortunately, the conflict between federal regulations and state laws can lead to confusion, and even today, it’s difficult to know if it’s really legal or not.

FAQs: Cannabis Laws USA

The confusing and contradicting laws in the US surrounding marijuana have led to a lot of questions — here’s some of the most common.

1. How many US states allow cannabis for medical or recreational use?

So far, 37 states allow cannabis for medical or recreational use. Most states allow low-THC CBD oil as well as long as it’s derived from hemp and contains no more than 0.3% THC by dried weight.

2. Can you use cannabis publicly in states where recreational use is legal?  

It depends on the state because some forbid using cannabis in public, especially near children or pregnant women, or when driving a car. You should check out the local laws to get a complete picture of your state’s regulations.

3. How do you qualify to use medical marijuana?

The process varies state by state, but the steps are typically the same, beginning with getting approval from a certified doctor. Then, you can obtain a medical cannabis card, which lets you buy a specific amount of weed from a dispensary.

4. Can you grow marijuana?

If the state allows it, you can grow plants for personal use. The limit is usually six plants per individual and 12 per household, but you should check the regulations to be sure.

5. How can people ensure they comply with the cannabis laws of each state?

I recommend you read your local cannabis laws and regulations. Each state has a government website that lists current laws. Keep in mind that some states have different regulations for residents and non-residents.