Where Is Marijuana Legal?

Criminal Law

In a submission through our website, I’ve been asked where marijuana is legal. Before you rely on the information provided here, remember:

  • Under federal law, marijuana use and possession is illegal in the entire United States of America. While the federal authorities have refrained from prosecuting marijuana, I have seen cases where the Department of Justice has prosecuted and imprisoned persons here in Michigan for operating marijuana dispensaries and for trafficking in marijuana.
  • I am a Michigan lawyer, and I’m licensed to practice law in Michigan. Before you travel to another jurisdiction for the purpose of using or possessing marijuana, make sure to check with an authority about the legality of marijuana in that jurisdiction—many of the decriminalized jurisdictions have limits on the purpose for using and on the quantity of possessing marijuana.
  • In any jurisdiction, do not operate a motor vehicle, all-terrain vehicle, snowmobile, boat, or airplane while intoxicated by marijuana.
  • In any jurisdiction, do not carry concealed, possess, or discharge a firearm while intoxicated by marijuana.
  • In Michigan, you have to demonstrate a debilitating medical condition and obtain the government’s permission to use, possess, and cultivate marijuana in conformance with the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.
  • In Michigan, use of edible marijuana, marijuana infused products, and any mixtures containing marijuana is illegal.
  • In Michigan, marijuana dispensaries are illegal. Some marijuana dispensaries are operating with the tacit permission of the authorities in those jurisdictions, but the authorities can change this posture at any moment. Almost all dispensaries have been eradicated from West Michigan. The dispensaries that are operating are being closely watched by police as an intelligence-gathering and criminal-investigation tool. I just had a call this week from a medical-marijuana-card recipient who is a qualified patient under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. Police pulled him over in a traffic stop and confiscated his marijuana just because it was purchased two miles back at a dispensary.

Recreational Use: Marijuana is legal for recreational use in:

  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • District of Columbia

Medical Use: Marijuana is legal for use as treatment for a medical condition in:

  • Arizona
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Guam
  • Puerto Rico

Decriminalized: Marijuana use has been decriminalized in some way, perhaps reduced to a civil infraction in:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • North Carolina
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

Criminal: Marijuana use is either a misdemeanor or a felony in:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Missouri
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
  • American Samoa
  • Northern Mariana Islands

Legalization Pending: There are petitions pending for legalizing marijuana for recreational use in:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Nevada


Jurisdiction-with-legalized-cannabis Jurisdiction with legalized cannabis.
Jurisdiction-with-both-medical-and-decriminalization-laws Jurisdiction with both medical and decriminalization laws.
Jurisdiction-with-decriminalized-cannabis-possession-laws Jurisdiction with decriminalized cannabis possession laws.
Jurisdiction-with-legal-psychoactive-medical-cannabis Jurisdiction with legal psychoactive medical cannabis.
Jurisdiction-with-legal-non-psychoactive-medical-cannabis Jurisdiction with legal non-psychoactive medical cannabis.
Jurisdiction-with-cannabis-prohibition Jurisdiction with cannabis prohibition.

Image citation: Legality of Cannabis by U.S. Jurisdiction, Wikipedia, Web, March 16, 2016.

Jeffrey M. Schroder

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