RECAP 2020: In which states marijuana is legal in the US

Soft Secrets
13 Jun 2020

For years now pot enthusiasts have had ‘high hopes’ for the legalization of marijuana in the United States. Well, you better cup your hand and tuck that lighter inside your palm, as it seems that a green revolution is on the rise. According to Politico, more than 40 U.S. states could partly legalize marijuana by the end of 2020, including deep red South Dakota and Mississippi. Scroll through this article and find out which states are voting on recreational cannabis and which are staying behind. As you scroll, freshen up your eyes with some marvelous buds.

According to a 2019 CBS News Poll, support for legal pot hit a historic high, with 65% of U.S. adults saying marijuana should be legal. Below, the Soft Secrets team has picked essential information on both recreational and legal marijuana, per state, alphabetically. So, light it up and see if you are breaking the law.

Find out which states are voting in favor of recreational cannabis


Recreational use: Illegal Medical use: Limited to CBD oil Alabama has a rather strict policy on medical marijuana use: patients can possess CBD oil which contains up to 3% THC. Possession of recreational marijuana counts as a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in prison or a $6,000 fine. 


Recreational use: Legal Medical use: Legal Go, Moose. Both medical and recreational are legal in Alaska. While you are able to possess and use weed in the state, providing you are 21 or over, public consumption is still punishable by a fine of up to $100, so if you light up, do it discreetly. The ‘green state’ has become a favorable choice for weed tourists boasting a tax revenue of over $1 million from weed sales last year.


Recreational use: Illegal Medical use: Legal While medical marijuana is legal and thriving in Arizona, possession of up to 2 lbs for recreational use is still punishable by up to 1.5 years of jail time and fines of up to $150,000. Despite falling short the past few years, there are government initiatives and petitions to legalize recreational pot in Arizona. So fingers crossed for pot smokers in the Grand Canyon state.


Recreational use: Illegal Medical use: Legal Even though Arkansas gave a green light to medical cannabis in 2016 with the voting of the Medical Marijuana Amendment, the state has undergone a lot of strain in approving and opening dispensaries. Now, patients can make use of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, if their medical condition qualifies for a cannabis prescription. Sadly, the Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Initiative is not on the ballot in Arkansas for the end of the year. 


Recreational use: Legal Medical use: Legal California has become one of the greenest states in the country with the most progressive marijuana laws. Medicinal marijuana was legalized in the sunny state as early as 1996, and recreational pot in 2016. The law enabled the opening of recreational marijuana dispensaries in January 2018, and online sales have been flourishing. Californian adults over 21 can possess 28.5 grams of cannabis plant material and 8 grams of concentrated cannabis. Other aspects of the law remain quite flexible. For instance, smoking is acceptable on private properties unless the owner specifies otherwise. And for cannabis users who have faced charges on weed possession in the past, the California Expungement Bill enables them to clear their legal record.


Recreational use: Legal Medical use: Legal Colorado is another pioneer in legalizing recreational marijuana and has benefited largely from doing so. The state’s $105 million in tax revenue from weed sales is now altruistically being used to aid mental health programs, help the homeless, and fight drug addiction. If you are 21 or over you can purchase up to 1 ounce of pot from one of the many retail cannabis stores. A gram in Colorado will cost you $12, and an ounce is available for $150. It's worth noting that Colorado is becoming a popular hub for pot tourists.


Recreational use: Decriminalized Medical use: Legal Connecticut residents can obtain up to 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis a month. With medical marijuana certificates being available from physicians for conditions such as glaucoma, cancer, PTSD, and HIV/AIDs. The state is due to vote on recreational cannabis, however, for now, nugs remain illegal. Possessing less than half an ounce only results in a civil penalty and a small fine.


Recreational use: Illegal Medical use: Legal Medical cannabis is legal in Delaware, and patients are able to buy from dispensaries, with a doctor's recommendation. Delaware is one of the US states voting on recreational cannabis hopefully soon. There have been some holdouts on the bill, which has been rewritten; recreational cannabis advocates remain optimistic. 


Recreational use: Illegal Medical use: Legal   While the Sunshine state legalized medical cannabis in 2016, the use is plagued by complicated laws. Recreational pot is still illegal and possession of 20 grams can cost you up to one year in jail or $1,000 fine. Hopefully, that changes in 2022 when the state is set to give its blessing for recreational use with the Florida Marijuana Legalization Initiative on the ballot


Recreational use: Illegal Medical use: Limited to CBD oil Patients in Georgia are only allowed to use CBD oil up to 5% THC by weight. Recreational use is still illegal in Georgia, and the possession of an ounce or less can result in up to a year in jail or $1,000 fine.


Recreational use: Decriminalized Medical use: Legal The island state allows registered patients with cards to buy weed from dispensaries as well as cultivate up to seven plants. Low-level weed possession is no longer punishable by the threat of jail time in Hawaii. As of January 2020, individuals with three grams or less of weed can face a $130 fine and no jail time.


Medical use: Illegal Recreational use: Illegal Pot smokers in Idaho are likely to be disappointed. Laws are far behind, with both medical and recreational use still being illegal.


Recreational use: Legal Medical use: Legal Illinois legalized recreational weed in December 2019 and became the 11th state to do so. Medical cannabis patients can possess up to 2.5 ounces of weed within a 14-day period.


Recreational use: Illegal Medical use: Limited to CBD oil Weed is largely illegal in Indiana, both for recreational and medical purposes. However, a recent bill has legalized the use of CBD oil for everybody in Indiana providing it’s labeled as under 0.3% THC. So, there some sort of silver lining for green-thumbed enthusiasts in the Hoosier state. 


Recreational use: Illegal Medical use: Limited to CBD oil Iowa is a state with a history of failed decriminalization efforts for legalizing weed. Recreational pot is illegal in Iowa and the medical use of marijuana in this state is still very limited; it remains to see when is the state voting on recreational cannabis relaxation of measures. Possession of any amount of marijuana (excluding CBD oil) can lead to a 6-month sentence and $1,000 fine, that is if you are a first-time offender. Patients are allowed to use CBD oil containing up to 3% THC.


Medical use: Illegal Recreational use: Illegal Kansas is not rushing to bring marijuana reform. However, the state is making efforts to reduce penalties of possession of weed, which can result in jail time and fines of up to $1,000.


Recreational use: Illegal Medical use: Limited to CBD oil While medical cannabis is still illegal in Kentucky, patients with conditions such as epilepsy are allowed to use and obtain any amount of CBD oil. Health polls suggest that 90% of Kentuckians support medical cannabis, but the state's medical cannabis legislature is still experiencing setbacks. The state's voting on recreational cannabis remains a matter for the more distant future.


Recreational use: Illegal Medical use: Limited to CBD oil While any form of smokable marijuana for sale is forbidden, the use of medical marijuana is limited to CBD oil for patients. Up to 15 days incarceration and fines up to $300 are the punishment for illegal (recreational) use. In Louisiana, they get immensely strict for possession of 2.5 lbs (or more) where minimal imprisonment of two years is added to the $10,000 fine.


Recreational use: Legal Medical use: Legal It is legal to use marijuana in Maine for either recreational or medical purposes, and if you’re at least 21, you’re allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces. You are allowed to grow not more than 7 plants at a time. While smoking in public can cost you $100, people residing here are allowed to smoke in their own and into state-licensed clubs. Numerous dispensaries are providing cannabis to patients using the product for medical purposes. Stores selling marijuana for recreational purposes are about to open this year while non-medical users will have to wait.


Recreational use: Decriminalized Medical use: Legal Only patients with different conditions can be approved for medical marijuana in Maryland. This allows them to possess a 30 days supply of roughly 4 ounces. More dispensaries are due to open this year, showing that Maryland’s medical marijuana infrastructure is growing. Cannabis for regular use was partly decriminalized while possessing up to 10 grams is a civil offense that can be fined by up to $100. Possessing 10 grams or more is considered a misdemeanor, which can cost you a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000, with higher penalties if you possess 50 lbs.


Recreational use: Legal Medical use: Legal Medical marijuana was legalized in 2012. Patients of minimum 18 years of age are allowed to get a physician’s prescription for medical marijuana (for certain conditions). These prescriptions allow patients to purchase up to 2-months supplies (max 10 ounces from a dispensary). Adults (21) are also allowed to use it for recreational purposes since 2016. Stores have been opened since 2018. Adults (21 or over) are also allowed to grow max 6 plants or 12 for households with more than one adult, but the plants cannot be visible from the street. Households can store up to 10 ounces, or more if harvested from a home crop.


Medical use: Legal Recreational use: Legal Patients with a doctor’s prescription can get up to 2.5 ounces of flower from Michigan dispensaries for medical purposes. The state went on voting for recreational cannabis in 2018 and became the 10th in the US and the first in the Midwest to legalize recreational use. So, if you are aged 21 or older you can own nugs and edibles, and home-growers can water up to 12 marijuana plants to satisfy their personal needs. It's acceptable to store up to 10 ounces of weed at residencies, with amounts greater than 2.5 ounces locked in special containers.


Medical use: Legal Recreational use: Decriminalized Only a month's supply of medical cannabis is allowed to patients with certain conditions in this state. A drug education program and a fine of up to $200 for those possessing up to 42.5 grams. The conversation is ongoing on further advancing of Minnesota's cannabis legislature.


Medical use: Legal Recreational use: Illegal While medical marijuana is legal for registered patients, recreational pot remains illegal, and possession of 10 grams is punishable by a fine only. However, the offense remains a criminal misdemeanor in Missouri. 


Medical use: Legal Recreational use: Illegal Patients with a Medical Card are allowed to possess max 1 ounce of marijuana (from in-state dispensaries). Recreational use is illegal and those possessing cannabis without a Medical Card can face six months incarceration and a $500 fine. A statewide campaign working to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana, submitted two complementary 2020 ballot initiatives.


Recreational use: Decriminalized Medical use: Illegal Cannabis is illegal in all forms in Nebraska and any efforts to legalize it have been shot down in the past as the state's governor is notoriously anti-weed. However, possession of small amounts has been decriminalized and will result only in a citation and a small fine.


Recreational use: Legal Medical use: Legal If you are in Nevada, go on and smoke away, as the state is largely ‘green’ both for medical and recreational use. Medical cannabis patients are allowed to cultivate up to six plants, only if they are over 25 miles away from a dispensary. Marijuana stores are plentiful in Reno and Las Vegas and you can purchase a gram for around $12-20 on average.

New Hampshire

Recreational use: Decriminalized (up to three-quarters of an ounce) Medical use: Legal Medical cannabis is available for patients in New Hampshire and they can possess up to two ounces of weed from New Hampshire dispensaries. Weed possession has been partly decriminalized in New Hampshire: possession of up to ¾ of an ounce will only result in a maximum fine of $100.

New Jersey

Recreational use: Illegal Medical use: Legal In New Jersey, medical cannabis patients can own up to two ounces of the green stuff per month. Possession for non-patients is still punishable by 6 months incarceration and fines of up to $1,000.

New Mexico

Recreational use: Decriminalized  Medical use: Legal Medical pot has been legal in New Mexico since 2007 and patients can purchase up to 8 ounces of medical cannabis from one of the many state dispensaries. In April 2019, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation to decriminalize marijuana in New Mexico significantly reducing possession penalties. Under the new act, possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana is considered a civil citation and comes with a $50 fine instead of jail time.


Recreational use: Illegal Medical use: Limited to CBD oil Oklahoma passed medical cannabis law in 2015, allowing epilepsy patients of any age to obtain FDA-approved CBD products with less than 3%. Pot smokers hoping for legal recreational weed shouldn’t hold their breath as there are still strict laws for possession of any amount.


Recreational use: Legal Medical use: Legal Both medical and recreational marijuana is legal in Oregon, and its residents can enjoy the state's liberal cannabis laws. While residents aged 21 can keep up to 8 ounces of weed at home and can cultivate up to four plants, public consumption is still forbidden.


Recreational use: Illegal Medical use: Legal While Pennsylvania green-lit medical cannabis in 2016, the process of opening dispensaries has been slow with the first one being only opened in 2018. Recreational weed is still illegal and possession can lead to 30 days in jail and $500 fines.

Rhode Island

Recreational use: Decriminalized Medical use: Legal Medical weed has been legal in Rhode Island since 2006, and patients with a physician’s certificate can possess up to 2.5 ounces of weed and cultivate up to 12 plants. Rhode Islanders can also possess less than an ounce for personal use, as weed has been decriminalized in the state.

South Carolina

Recreational use: Illegal Medical use: Limited to CBD oil While medical pot is still illegal in South Carolina, “Julian’s Law” allows epilepsy patients with severe symptoms to use low-THC CBD oil.

South Dakota

Recreational use: Illegal Medical use: Illegal Unlike its neighbor, South Dakota is still very much anti-weed with attempts to legalize medical marijuana repeatedly rejected from the ballot.


Recreational use: Illegal Medical use: Limited to CBD oil  Both medical and recreational weed is not legal in Tennessee. However, there is an exception that allows the use of high-CBD, low-THC cannabis oil for seizure patients.


Recreational use: Illegal Medical use: Limited to CBD oil CBD oil with no more than 0.5% THC and no less than 10% CBD. In January 2020, the Austin City Council unanimously passed a resolution that limits enforcement action for low-level marijuana possession offenses. Still, statewide reform to decriminalize marijuana is long overdue.


Medical use: Limited to CBD oil Recreational use: Illegal Utah residents with qualifying medical conditions and a healthcare provider’s recommendation can now obtain lab-tested medical cannabis from a medical cannabis pharmacy. And beginning in fall, they’ll be able to have it delivered to their door.


Medical use: Legal Recreational use: Legal Vermont is another bright spot on the map of the US, with Vermonters being able to enjoy a fully legal home-grown cannabis. In Vermont, you are allowed to cultivate up to six marijuana plants (two mature, four immature) for self only. There are no penalties for persons aged 21 or older for possessing up to one ounce of weed, but for more than that you'll get into trouble. Can you smoke weed in public places? Nope.


Medical use: Limited to CBD oil Recreational use: Decriminalized Virginia just recently decriminalized up to one ounce possessing of weed. The legislation was signed by Gov. Ralph Northam in April 2020. Under the new law, should you be caught with up to an ounce of marijuana in Virginia, you'll still have to pay a small fine of $25, but face no threat of jail time or criminal record. That's a relief given that the old law predicts a max $500 fine, plus up to 30 days in jail, plus opening a criminal record. Once the latest improvements go into effect starting July 1, 2020, patients in the US state may also be able to obtain recommendations on cannabis for any condition they might have. The limit is no more than 10 milligrams of THC per dose for medical use. Flowers remain prohibited.


Medical use: Legal Recreational use: Legal Washington has benefited greatly from being one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana use through a voter referendum. As of 2018, the state has pulled in upwards of $1 billion from marijuana sales. Not only does it bring in revenue, but Washington also issued a report finding that neither the use of marijuana by those underage nor marijuana-related abuse treatment admissions, increased after the state’s legalization of marijuana for adults. Quite simply, the sky hasn’t fallen in Washington, and there are no signs that it will.  Adults 21 or over can possess up to an ounce of weed. Stores are now open all over the state and visitors and residents can purchase a gram legally for as little as $6-10. Washington’s medical marijuana program has been going strong since 2016. Patients with certain ailments can possess up to three ounces of plant-based marijuana in and 216 ounces of liquid-based marijuana.

Washington D.C.

Medical use: Legal (commercial sales)  Recreational use: Legal to carry up to 2 oz. (56.7 grams)  In Washington D.C., the medical cannabis program allows home delivery during the COVID-19 crisis. Regarding cultivation, here it's legal to grow up to six plants (only three mature at a time) for recreational purposes, and there is no provision for commercial recreational cultivation due to the fact that D.C. cannot control its own budget. Congress has been able to block the District from taxing and regulating marijuana sales via the "Harris rider."

West Virginia

Recreational use: misdemeanor Medical use: Legal Legislature adds whole plant access to medical cannabis law in 2020, but home cultivation is still not allowed in West Virginia. Patients will be allowed to obtain cannabis from regulated dispensaries once they are up and running. Patients and caregivers who knowingly possess more cannabis than is allowed face up to six months in jail.


Recreational use: misdemeanor on the first offense, a felony on subsequent offenses Medical use: Limited to CBD oil Cannabis in Wisconsin is illegal with the exception of non-psychoactive CBD oil and industrial hemp. Various fines and prison terms apply to cannabis possession, sale, or cultivation. It is one of 23 states that still impose jail on simple possession of cannabis, and one of only 17 that lacks a compassionate medical cannabis law. CBD oil sold in licensed cannabis retailers in states like Colorado, with a regulated market, are subject to laboratory testing, but getting to such stores could be costly and onerous for patients in Wisconsin.


Recreational use: Illegal Medical use: Limited to CBD oil Wyoming trails far behind other states when it comes to sensible marijuana policies. Sadly, Wyoming is one of the remaining 17 states with no effective medical marijuana law. The legislature adjourned its 2020 session without seriously considering legalizing medical cannabis in the Cowboy State. Wyoming has some of the strictest marijuana laws in the United States. Cannabis itself is not allowed for medical purposes, but a 2015 law allows limited use of non-psychoactive CBD oil. Possession of under three ounces of cannabis is a misdemeanor that can be punished with up to a year in jail and a $1000 fine; possession of over three ounces is a felony. With a number of states still pending to vote on recreational cannabis, and some even on medical use, there is a way to go for the US. Nevertheless, things are moving on the bright side, and the steady sales of cannabis are another indicator the industry is thriving and flourishing. As states increasingly recognize the positive economic impact marijuana legalization is having nationwide, we should hope and anticipate an increasing number of states enabling both medical and recreational use of marijuana.

Soft Secrets