Recent scientific studies have shown that there are several health benefits of recreational marijuana. For this reason, some states have legalized the use of recreational marijuana within their boundaries. But before you light that joint, it's important to know whether it is legal in your state and if there are any exceptions in states where recreational marijuana is legal.
This article discusses states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana and any unique laws that come with the legalization. It's also important to note that most of these states share some laws in common.
Examples of these laws include:
- It is unlawful to consume recreational marijuana on federal property and public property
- It is illegal to sell recreational marijuana to individuals under the age of 21
- Driving under the influence of marijuana is prohibited
- Property owners and employers have the right to ban the use of recreational marijuana on their property or workplaces
Therefore, we'll only cover laws unique to that particular state.
As of July 2022, the following states have legalized the use of recreational marijuana:
Recreational marijuana has been legal in Alaska since 2009. However, the use of cannabis in the state was first legalized in 1975 but was decriminalized several times.
Effective February 24, 2015, adults aged 21 and above are allowed to possess up to one ounce (28 grams) of cannabis. In addition, they can cultivate up to six plants.
The law also allows adults over 21 to purchase cannabis at state-licensed dispensaries.
However, despite being legal, the use of recreational cannabis in Alaska comes with some exceptions, as highlighted below:
- Licensed marijuana retail stores can only sell small amounts of marijuana to users of legal age.
- It is illegal to travel with recreational marijuana in and outside of Alaska.
- Similarly, you cannot take marijuana on a cruise, airplane, or ferry in the state.
- While you may be allowed to grow six marijuana plants in Alaska, the plants must be grown out of public view.
Recreational marijuana became legal in Arizona on November 30, 2020. The new law allows individuals over 21 to possess no more than five grams of concentrates.
The exceptions are as follows:
- In Arizona, you risk facing up to three years in prison if you knowingly possess more than five grams of recreational marijuana.
- If you knowingly possess recreational marijuana for sale without a license, you may face up to 10 years in prison.
- Qualifying medical patients may consume medical marijuana, only in edible form, in public. However, they are not allowed to operate a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, whether in edible form or not.
- Even though the use of recreational marijuana is legal in Arizona, employers have the right to maintain a drug-free workplace. For this reason, they may prohibit the use of recreational marijuana in the workplace.
- If you own a cannabis store in Arizona, you cannot sell more than one ounce to users intending to consume it for recreational purposes. On the other hand, medical marijuana users can buy up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana from licensed dispensaries.
- In addition, it is illegal to sell recreational marijuana through delivery services in Arizona.
California famously made headlines worldwide for being the first US state to legalize the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana. In California, you may possess 28.5 grams of cannabis plant material, which translates to about an ounce. You may also possess 8 grams of concentrated cannabis in California.
Below are some additional rules you need to know about the recreational use of cannabis in California.
- It is unlawful to consume cannabis within 1000 feet of a school, daycare center, or youth center while kids are present.
- If you wish to grow cannabis at home in California, you must be at least 21 years old. Even so, you cannot grow more than six cannabis plants.
- Some cities in California require growers to have a permit, even if they're growing cannabis at home.
- It is illegal to drive with an open container of marijuana in California. The cannabis must either be in a sealed package or container or kept in the vehicle's trunk.
Recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado. However, you may be able to purchase medical marijuana between the ages of 18 and 20. For this to work, you'll need a medical marijuana card. It is also important to note that this option is only available to residents of Colorado.
- You can only purchase up to one ounce of recreational marijuana. However, you can possess up to two ounces of recreational marijuana at a time.
- Cannabis dispensaries can only sell up to 8 grams of concentrates and edibles containing no more than 800 milligrams of THC.
- Unlike many states that allow recreational marijuana, delivery of this kind of marijuana is legal in Colorado, but a local government must be involved.
- You can be arrested for driving after consuming marijuana if you have more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.
In Connecticut, adults aged 21 and above can legally possess recreational marijuana of no more than 1.5 ounces. Each household can grow no more than 12 total marijuana plants. However, consumers of recreational marijuana cannot grow marijuana at home until July 1, 2023.
Here are additional laws you need to know:
- In Connecticut, you can only transport up to five ounces of marijuana. The marijuana must be locked in a container.
- If you need medical marijuana in Connecticut, you must provide your medical card issued by the state of Connecticut.
- Property owners reserve the right to ban marijuana usage on their properties in Connecticut.
- As of July 2022, no recreational cannabis dispensary is open yet in Connecticut; they're still on the waiting list.
Recreational cannabis was legalized in Illinois in 2019. In this state, you can purchase one ounce of cannabis flower and up to five grams of concentrate just as long as you're at least 21 years old.
The following rules govern the use, sale, and transportation of marijuana in Illinois:
- You can possess up to 30 grams of marijuana provided you're at least 21 years old.
- Only licensed dispensaries are allowed to sell marijuana in this state.
- You can transport marijuana only if you have a transportation license issued by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
- You can legally possess and consume medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.
- You may not cultivate medical marijuana even with a doctor's recommendation.
Maine was the 9th state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults aged 21 or older. Here are some rules you need to know:
- Recreational and medical marijuana in Maine cannot be sold at the same dispensary.
- It is unlawful to use cannabis in a vehicle. This applies to the driver and the passenger.
- You can possess no more than 5 grams of cannabis concentrate.
- You may grow up to 3 mature, 12 immature cannabis plants, and an unlimited number of cannabis seedlings.
- Although you can grow cannabis for personal use, it should be out of public sight and locked up.
You must be at least 21 years old to purchase cannabis in Massachusetts. But that's not the only thing you need to know.
- You don't have to be a Massachusetts resident to purchase recreational marijuana, but you must have a valid government-issued ID.
- You cannot pay for recreational marijuana with a credit card—only cash and debit cards are allowed.
- Cannabis dispensaries are allowed to deliver cannabis to their client's location.
- Out-of-state visitors cannot purchase medical-grade marijuana.
Michigan legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2018. Here are some unique laws you need to know:
- There is no limit to the amount of recreational cannabis you can purchase, but you cannot purchase more than 2.5 ounces per transaction.
- Medical patients or caregivers can only purchase up to 2.5 ounces per day.
- It is legal to deliver cannabis to the buyer's location.
The use of recreational cannabis in Montana by adults aged 21 and older has been legal since January 1, 2021.
- You can cultivate up to two mature marijuana plants and two seedlings for private use in a private residence.
- The plants should not be visible to the public.
- Recreational use of marijuana is prohibited in some counties.
- A licensed marijuana dispensary can sell both medical and recreational marijuana.
Both residents and visitors in New Jersey can buy recreational marijuana as long as they're 21 years or older.
- You cannot buy more than one ounce of cannabis or 5 grams of concentrates per transaction.
- You may give your friends cannabis as a gift in Montana, as long as it's no more than one ounce and the friend is at least 21 years old.
- Patients cannot legally grow medical marijuana. By doing so, they risk facing up to five years in prison.
Recreational and medical marijuana is legal in New Mexico for consumers at least 21 years old.
In New Mexico:
- You cannot possess more than two ounces of cannabis.
- You can cultivate up to six mature and six immature plants per household.
- Anyone younger than 21 found with marijuana risks serving up to four hours of community service and taking four hours of drug education.
In New York, you can possess up to three ounces of cannabis or 0.85 ounces of concentrates as long as you're at least 21 years old.
In addition, in New York, you:
- Can grow up to 12 cannabis plants per household.
- Cannot sell cannabis grown for personal use.
Like other states, you must be at least 21 years old to consume recreational marijuana in Nevada. In addition, you:
- Can possess up to one ounce of marijuana.
- Can only purchase marijuana at licensed dispensaries.
- Can grow no more than 12 marijuana plants for recreational use.
Recreational marijuana became legal for adults aged 21 or older in Oregon in 2015. In this state, you can:
- Grow up to four plants on your private property.
- Possess up to eight ounces of recreational marijuana in your home.
- Possess no more than two ounces of marijuana on public property.
Adult-use marijuana became legal in Rhode Island on May 25, 2022. In this state, you can:
- Posses up to an ounce of marijuana.
- Grow three plants and three dried plants.
Both recreational and medical marijuana is legal for consumers aged 21 or older in Vermont. However, as of July 2022, recreational sales are not yet operational.
In Vermont, you can:
- Posses up to one ounce of marijuana.
- Grow no more than two mature marijuana plants or four immature marijuana plants.
Virginia allows the use of recreational marijuana but only for individuals aged 21 or older. Here's all you need to know.
- Only medical dispensaries are operational in Virginia as of July 2022.
- The sale of recreational cannabis is expected to begin in October 2022.
- You cannot possess more than an ounce of cannabis.
- You cannot grow more than two mature and four immature cannabis plants.
Recreational cannabis has been legal in Washington state since 2012.
- You must be at least 21 to buy recreational cannabis.
- You cannot grow cannabis unless you have medical authorization or a state license.
- You cannot have an open container of cannabis in the car; it should be in the trunk.
To recap, states that allow recreational use of marijuana seem to have the same rules in terms of:
- minimum age to consume;
- where to or not to consume it;
- who can or cannot sell it;
And so on.
If you need more information about recreational marijuana or if you were fined or wrongfully charged for legal marijuana use, you can turn to Morgan & Morgan for help. Contact us anytime for a free, no-obligation case evaluation to learn more.