Less than a decade ago, buying recreational marijuana legally in the United States was a pipe dream. Although some states had medical marijuana programs, obtaining marijuana was limited to certain qualifying patients and the ability to visit a store and buy it for personal use seemed a long way away. However, in 2020, there are 15 states with legalized marijuana and a further 20 with medical marijuana programs.
The 20 states that currently allow marijuana for medical use only are Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, and West Virginia. Many of these states have also decriminalized possession and will likely legalize marijuana in the future.
That leaves a further 15 states (plus Washington D.C.) where anyone aged 21 or over can buy marijuana for recreational or medical purposes. Washington and Colorado were the first states to legalize marijuana back in 2012, whereas ballots to legalize marijuana in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota passed just this month. Here’s a breakdown of all 15 states with legalized marijuana in 2020.
Alaska has always been fairly progressive when it comes to marijuana laws. The Last Frontier was the second state after California to legalize medical marijuana back in 1998 by way of a ballot measure. This allowed patients with qualifying conditions to buy and grow marijuana to help with their symptoms.
The legalization of marijuana for adult use in Alaska came in February 2015, making it the third state to legalize marijuana after Washington and Colorado. Despite its small population, Alaska has been fairly successful when it comes to marijuana sales thanks to a positive attitude towards pot from residents and tourists.
Arizona is one of the latest states to legalize marijuana after voters passed Proposition 207 this month. With that said, residents will need to wait a while to get their hands on legal weed. The official legalization date is a week from now on November 30, 2020, but it’s estimated that legal sales won’t begin until March 2021.
Nonetheless, this is great news for Arizonians. With a large population and plenty of space for cannabis cultivation, Arizona could be one of the most lucrative destinations for marijuana entrepreneurs. Arizona is already one of the top-selling marijuana states thanks to high sales of medical marijuana ever since it was legalized in 2010.
California is one of the biggest international hotspots for marijuana lovers. It was the first state to ever legalize medical marijuana way back in 1996. It was also among the first six states to legalize marijuana for adult use, although this didn’t happen until 2016. It now has a booming marijuana market that rakes in billions of dollars in sales and tax revenue.
It’s not hard to see why California is one of the most lucrative marijuana states. With almost 40 million residents and hundreds of millions of tourists visiting each year, there are plenty of people who dabble in its legal marijuana market. What’s more, progressive and laid-back attitudes mean there’s not much stigma against recreational or medical marijuana use.
Colorado was one of the very first states to legalize marijuana along with Washington. It has since become one of the biggest marijuana hotspots and has the second-highest projected revenue of marijuana sales behind California. Medical marijuana has also been legal in Colorado since 2001.
Anyone aged 21 or over in Colorado can legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana. It’s also legal to grow marijuana yourself, although there’s a legal limit of six plants per household, and only three can be mature at a time. This is one of the best states for marijuana businesses and consumers.
Illinois legalized medical marijuana back in 2013. A Legislative Bill then made adult-use marijuana legal in Illinois as of January 1st, 2020. Since marijuana became legal at the start of this year, the marijuana market in Illinois has been rising fast with $431 million in legal marijuana sales as of October 2020.
You must be 21 or over to buy cannabis in Illinois, but there are different laws for Illinois residents and visitors from out of state. Residents can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis whereas non-Illinois residents can possess up to 15 grams. You can grow up to five plants at home, but only if you’re a registered medical marijuana patient.
Maine is another state where anyone aged 21 or over can access marijuana for all purposes. Maine legalized medical marijuana in 1999 and then went on to legalize marijuana for adult use in 2016, although regulations for commercial sales weren’t set until 2019.
Anyone aged 21 or over in Maine can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. It’s also legal to grow up to 12 marijuana plants at home, although only three must be flowering at any time. Due to delays in licensing, recreational marijuana sales in Maine only began earlier this year.
Massachusetts legalized medical marijuana back in 2012, allowing patients with qualifying conditions aged 18 or over to get a physician’s recommendation for marijuana. In 2016, Massachusetts also legalized marijuana for adult use, allowing anyone aged 21 or over to buy marijuana for any purpose.
The state now rakes in millions of dollars from both medical and recreational marijuana sales, and the city’s capital Boston is one of the most weed-friendly cities for tourists. Adults aged 21 or over can possess up to an ounce of marijuana in public or keep up to 10 ounces at home. They can also grow up to six plants at home.
Michigan has one of the most successful medical marijuana programs in the U.S., raking in over a billion dollars from medical marijuana sales alone. Medical marijuana has been legal in Michigan since 2008 and recreational use became legal in 2018 thanks to an initiated ballot measure. Recreational sales then began a year later in 2019.
Adults aged 21 or over can publicly possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana in Michigan. They can also store up to 10 ounces of marijuana at home. Growing marijuana is also legal- Michigan residents can grow up to 12 marijuana plants per household.
Montana is one of the latest states to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. Voters approved a marijuana legalization ballot in Montana on the third of November, although the official legalization date is January 1, 2021. Medical marijuana has also been legal in Montana since Initiative 148 passed in 2004.
Once legalization goes into effect this New Year’s Day, adults aged 21 or over in Montana can possess up to an ounce of marijuana. Residents will also be allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants at home. However, recreational sales aren’t expected to start in Montana until January 2022.
Nevada is another one of the biggest hotspots for marijuana in the United States. The Silver State legalized medical marijuana back in 2001. Recreational use became legal in January 2017 thanks to an act passed in 2016. Recreational sales started in Nevada in July 2017, and the city now plays host to some of the most impressive cannabis dispensaries in America.
Adults aged 21 or over can possess up to one ounce of marijuana in public or at home. Residents can also grow marijuana at home, although they’re limited to six plants per household. Nevadans can now find a variety of cannabis dispensaries, stores, and even cannabis lounges, especially in the 420-friendly tourism hotspot Las Vegas.
New Jersey legalized marijuana for medical use in 2010, but it wasn’t until 2020 that recreational use became legal in the state. Much like in Montana, New Jersey voters passed a ballot to legalize marijuana earlier this month. Legalization will go into effect in January 2021, although it might take longer until recreational sales are available.
Anyone aged 21 or over can buy and use marijuana after the official legalization date of January 1, 2021. The possession limits are yet to be announced. However, unlike most other legal states, it seems that NJ residents can’t grow weed at home. Nonetheless, the state could become a hotspot for marijuana sales- especially due to its proximity to New York and Pennsylvania where recreational marijuana is still illegal.
Oregon was among the first few states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana back in 2015 after a ballot was passed in 2014. The state also legalized medical marijuana back in 1998. Since then, Oregon has become one of the progressive states- even decriminalizing the possession of hard drugs this month.
Adults aged 21 or over can publicly possess up to one ounce of marijuana in Oregon. They can also keep up to eight ounces of marijuana at home. Growing marijuana at home is also legal, and residents can grow up to four marijuana plants per household. Oregon is one of the most 420-friendly states and plays host to many top dispensaries and stores.
South Dakota is perhaps the most surprising state on this list. Despite the government having a strong anti-marijuana stance for many years, voters passed separate ballots to legalize both recreational and medical marijuana use this November. This makes it the first state to simultaneously legalize marijuana for recreational and medical use.
Legalization is expected to officially come into effect on July 1, 2021. Adults aged 21 or over will be able to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to four plants per household. However, there may still be some obstacles to face as members of law enforcement in South Dakota aim to halt marijuana legalization in the state.
Vermont made medical marijuana legal back in 2004 when Senate Bill 76 was passed. Many years later in January 2018, Vermont became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana via legislature when HB511 was passed. Legalization came into effect in July 2018, although recreational sales aren’t expected to start until 2022 due to regulation and licensing delays.
As long as you’re aged 21 or over, you can possess up to one ounce of marijuana in Vermont either publicly or privately. Residents can also grow marijuana at home, although they’re limited to six plants and only two can be mature at any time.
Washington is one of the most marijuana-friendly states in the country, as well as being one of the states with the most marijuana sales. Medical use of marijuana was legalized by Initiative 692 in 1998. It then became the very first state to legalize recreational use in December 2012- just four days before Colorado.
Anyone aged 21 or over can possess up to one ounce of marijuana in Washington. However, unlike many other states, growing marijuana at home is illegal in the state. Nonetheless, residents and tourists will have no problem finding marijuana- Washington state is full of medical dispensaries and recreational stores.
While not technically a state, the District of Columbia has separate marijuana laws from other legal states. An initiative to legalize medical marijuana was passed in 1998, although this was effectively blocked by congress until 2009. Another initiative was passed in 2014 to legalize the possession and cultivation of marijuana for recreational purposes.
Legalization went into effect in February 2015, although the commercial sale of marijuana is still blocked. Many stores have found ways around this- such as giving marijuana as a gift along with merchandise or selling it via delivery services. Anyone aged 21 or over can possess up to two ounces of marijuana and you can grow up to six plants at home, although only three can be mature at a time.
These are the 15 states (plus Washington D.C.) where marijuana is currently legal in the United States for both recreational and medical purposes. These are excellent places for marijuana lovers to visit, although some are still held back by certain laws and restrictions.
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