Table of Contents
- Legalizing Medical or Recreational Marijuana – What’s the Difference?
- What is Recreational Marijuana?
- What is Medical Marijuana?
- Updated List of Weed Legal States
- States Where Marijuana is Legal for Medical Uses
- In Which States Is Cannabidiol Legal?
- In Which States Is Weed Illegal?
- Are We Moving Towards Federal Marijuana Legalization?
- Benefits of Decriminalizing Cannabis
- The Financial Advantage in Weed Legal States:
- Risks of Legalizing Weed
- Marijuana Addiction Treatment at Avenues Recovery
Marijuana – aka weed, pot, dope or cannabis – refers to the dried flowers, stems, leaves, and seeds of the cannabis plant. It contains both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), two stimulant chemical compounds that induce a pleasant high, and have made marijuana a highly popular choice for millions worldwide. Due to its popularity, more and more states are decriminalizing the use of weed. Avenues Recovery gives a rundown of what you need to know about weed-legal states.
Legalizing Medical or Recreational Marijuana – What’s the Difference?
Marijuana use generally falls within one of two distinct categories: medical or recreational. There are significant differences between medical and recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana has been legalized in many more states than recreational marijuana, and it is highly likely that it will ultimately see complete legalization across all U.S. states and territories.
Understandably, politicians and civilians will agree to the necessity and benefit of legalizing medical marijuana far sooner than they will accept recreational marijuana, which is used purely for motives of personal pleasure and has no real constructive purpose. The statistics (of states where medical marijuana vs. recreational marijuana is legal) reflect this reality.
What is Recreational Marijuana?
Recreational marijuana is used purely for recreational purposes, in order to induce a certain pleasurable psychoactive effect. It’s used for social or personal purposes (like relaxation, enjoyment, and/or stress relief). It is never recommended or prescribed by a healthcare professional. Recreational marijuana is most usually smoked in a joint (cigarette) or bong (water pipe), vaporized and inhaled, or mixed into edibles like brownies, gummies, or beverages. It is largely unregulated and usually consumed in inconsistent doses.
What is Medical Marijuana?
In contrast, medical marijuana is used to treat specific physical or mental health conditions and is always used under the guidance of a licensed medical professional. It’s generally prescribed to alleviate painful symptoms stemming from chronic pain, nausea, tremors, inflammation, or specific neurological disorders. Medical marijuana is usually ingested in specific amounts and in specific forms such as capsules, tablets, tinctures, edibles, or vaporized concentrates. It is consistently tested and monitored to ensure potency, purity, and safe dosages.
Updated List of Weed Legal States
|State Laws (click here for a more detailed review of all state laws pertaining to marijuana legalization)|
|Alaska||November 2014||Adults over 21 can possess and/or give away up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to 6 marijuana plants. Only 3 of those plants may be mature. Public marijuana use is illegal.|
|Arizona||November 2020||Adults above age 21 may possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, 5 grams of marijuana concentrate, and 6 marijuana plants. Public use of marijuana is illegal.|
|California||November 2016||Adults over age 21 may purchase, possess, or give away up to 1 ounce of marijuana and up to 8 grams of marijuana concentrate. They may also cultivate up to 6 cannabis plants. Public marijuana use (even in a vehicle) is illegal.|
|Colorado||November 2012||Adults above 21 can possess and/or give away up to 1 ounce of marijuana, and grow up to 6 plants – although no residence may have more than 12 marijuana plants, regardless of how many adults live there. Public marijuana use is illegal.|
|Connecticut||June 2021||Adults above age 21 may possess up to 5 oz of marijuana at home (or in a locked container in public) and carry up to 1.5 ounces in public. They may also grow up to 6 marijuana plants per person. Marijuana use is permitted on private property, but landlords, property owners, and rental companies have the right to ban marijuana use on their properties.|
|Delaware||April 2023||Residents above age 21 may possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, and up to 12 grams of hashish/ cannabis concentrate or items containing 750 milligrams of THC. Home cultivation for personal use remains illegal.|
|Illinois||May 2019||Adults above age 21 can possess 30 grams of standard marijuana, 5 grams of marijuana concentrate, and any products with up to 500 milligrams of THC (delta – 9 tetrahydrocannabinol). Visiting adults who are not Illinois residents may carry up to half of those amounts while in state. Public use remains illegal.|
|Maine||November 2016||Residents above age 21 can individually possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, and grow up to 6 adult and 12 immature cannabis plants.|
|Maryland||November 2022||Individuals may possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana, up to 12 grams of hash and/or concentrates, and grow up to 2 marijuana plants per person.|
|Massachusetts||November 2016||Adults above age 21 may carry up to 1 ounce of marijuana on their person, and possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana at home. They may also grow a maximum of 6 marijuana plants per person, and 12 plants in a household of 2 or more people.|
|Michigan||November 2018||Residents aged 21 and above can possess up to 2.5 ounces of standard marijuana and 15 grams of marijuana concentrate. Adults may also grow up to 12 plants per household.|
|Missouri||November 2022||Adults over age 21 may legally possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana. They can also cultivate up to 6 mature and 6 immature plants, and 6 plants under 14 inches – for personal use.|
|Montana||November 2020||Residents above age 21 may possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, and cultivate up to 2 flowering and 2 immature cannabis plants (for private use) in private property. Public marijuana use remains illegal.|
|Nevada||November 2016||Adults above age 21 may possess up to 1 ounce of standard marijuana and 1/8th of an ounce of marijuana concentrate. They may also grow up to 6 marijuana plants per person, or 12 plants per household. Public marijuana use (even in a car) is illegal.|
|New Jersey||November 2020||Adults above age 21 may purchase or give up to 28.35 grams, or 1 ounce, of usable marijuana. This is equivalent to· 28.35 grams (1 ounce) of dried flower· 4 grams of solid cannabis concentrate or resin· 4 grams of vaporized formulations (oil)· 1,000 milligrams of ingestible cannabis – infused productsMarijuana may be used on private property or in any licensed dispensary.|
|New Mexico||April 2021||Adults aged 21 and above may purchase, possess and carry up to 2 ounces of marijuana, 16 grams of cannabis extract, and 800 milligrams of marijuana edibles. Adults may also cultivate up to 6 marijuana plants per person or 12 plants per household. Marijuana use is permitted on private property or in a licensed dispensary.|
|New York||March 2021||Residents above 21 may possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana and 24 grams of marijuana concentrate for personal use. Smoking or vaping cannabis is allowed wherever standard (tobacco) smoking is legal.|
|Oregon||November 2014||Adults above 21 may carry up to 1 ounce of marijuana in public, and possess up to 8 ounces of marijuana in a private residence. They may also possess up to 16 ounces of marijuana product in solid form, and up to 72 ounces of marijuana product in liquid form. Adults may grow up to 4 cannabis plants. Public Marijuana use is illegal.|
|Rhode Island||May 2022||Adults above age 21 may possess up to 10 ounces of cannabis in a private residence and carry up to 1 ounce in public. Adults may also cultivate up to 6 cannabis plants in a private residence.|
|Vermont||January 2018||Vermont’s laws first allowed marijuana cultivation and possession alone, but buying and selling became legal in October of 2022. Adults above 21 may now possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, and grow 2 blossoming and 4 immature marijuana plants per household.|
|Virginia||April 2021||Residents aged 21 or older may own up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to 4 marijuana plants per household, on private property, for personal use. Public marijuana use is illegal.|
|Washington||November 2012||Adults above 21 can buy and possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana – infused edibles in solid form, 72 ounces of marijuana – infused liquids, and 7 grams of marijuana concentrate products. Recreational users may not grow marijuana at home. Public marijuana use is illegal.|
|Washington, D.C||November 2014||Adults aged 21 and above may possess up to 2 ounces and give away up to 1 ounce of marijuana. They can also grow up to 6 marijuana plants, 3 of which may be mature at any given time. Recreational cannabis sales remain illegal.|
So, what’s the story? Where is marijuana legal and where is it illegal? To date, almost half of the U.S. states have legalized recreational and medical marijuana use. Let’s take a look at the state of marijuana legalization across the States.
States Where Marijuana is Legal for Medical Uses
While the table above includes states where marijuana is legal, other states have legalized weed for medical uses only and not for recreational uses. These states include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Georgia, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Mississippi, and South Dakota.
In Which States Is Cannabidiol Legal?
Furthermore, there are some states that have only legalized cannabidiol (CBD) for medical purposes. Cannabidiol is a chemical that originates from weed and is used to treat medical disorders. States where only cannabidiol is legal, include Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Texas.
In Which States Is Weed Illegal?
There are some states in the US where weed is still illegal for both recreational and medical purposes. These states are Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wyoming.
Are We Moving Towards Federal Marijuana Legalization?
Although the marijuana legalization movement was originally met with resistance from many, stances have changed drastically over recent years. Increasing numbers of citizens and politicians are beginning to see the merit of having marijuana legalized across states. Traditionally, Democrats have leaned strongly in favor of marijuana legalization while Republicans have voted against it. But with the passage of time, more and more Republicans are crossing the fence and putting their support behind the marijuana legalization movement.
According to a study conducted by the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, Democrats support legalization with a ratio of 49% to 28% (49% for, 28% against); while the Republican majority still opposes it with a ratio of 50% to 32% (50% against, 32% for). Younger millennials (aged 18 to 24) are almost even, with 38% for, 39% against, and 22% unsure. Older millennials (aged 25 to 29) support legalization by a 50% margin, while 28% oppose it and 21% are still unsure. Whites support weed legalization with a 49% majority as compared to 32% opposed, and blacks and Hispanics are nearly even in both directions: blacks are 38% for and 39% against, and Hispanics are 37% either way.
The graph below gives a clearer visual understanding of these figures:
Benefits of Decriminalizing Cannabis
Despite its controversial nature, many are beginning to see the benefits to marijuana use. Some potential advantages to be gained from responsible marijuana use are listed below:
- Relieving pain
- Easing depression and anxiety
- Reducing inflammation
- Alleviating nausea
- Boosting brain health
The Financial Advantage in Weed Legal States:
Aside from the potential health benefits, there are financial ramifications as well to legalized marijuana use. A Coresight Research study estimated the value of the legalized marijuana market at approximately $64 billion, nearly tripling over the past 3 years as legalization efforts continually intensify. Some lawmakers view marijuana legalization as an untapped goldmine, and wish to see a legalized marijuana market with all tax revenue going directly towards addiction education, prevention, and treatment efforts.
It’s important to remember though, that marijuana use for medical purposes is still a topic of heavy debate and research. Marijuana remains an addictive substance, and inappropriate use can lead to destructive habits or even addiction.
Risks of Legalizing Weed
After any discussion about the potential benefits of making weed legal in states, it is only fair to include the potential risks of legalizing marijuana and the fallout of inappropriate usage. Excessive marijuana use can result in any of the following:
- Impaired cognitive function
- Mental illness
- Respiratory problems
- Substance use disorders
- Hampered brain development
In short, there are both benefits and risks to federal marijuana legalization. Individuals contemplating marijuana use – whether for medical or recreational purposes – should educate themselves responsibly about the benefits and accompanying dangers of this substance, and then make their own informed decision.
Another factor to consider is the prevalence of fentanyl-laced pot. When obtaining weed from illegal vendors, the chance of it including dangerous substances is high, and this is an unfortunately common cause of overdose death.
Marijuana Addiction Treatment at Avenues Recovery
If you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana or any other addictive substance, know that there is hope for the future, and healing is always possible. At Avenues Recovery, we offer an array of treatment programs including marijuana addiction treatment. We provide resources to help individuals return to the drug-free life they once had. Reach out to us today to speak with a trained and knowledgeable treatment specialist.
Begin your journey home today!