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Which US States Have Legalized Marijuana?

Posted by Canna Randa on Dec 16, 2021

Disclaimer: This information regarding the marijuana legalization status of each state was accurate at the time of posting. Please check the government sites for each state listed below for up-to-date information. 

Over the last decade, many states in the US have legalized marijuana for recreational and medical use. And since there are many benefits to having a medical marijuana card, you probably wanted to know which states will recognize and accept them.

To date, a total of twenty-one states have legalized cannabis for both recreational use and medical use, while eighteen states only allow medical marijuana for chronic pain and other medical conditions. That’s over half the states!

So, you’re probably wondering which states have voted to pass laws that legalize recreational marijuana. Find out if you live in a state that has approved these cannabis laws below.  

States Where Both Recreational and Medical Marijuana is Legal


The legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Alaska was passed as a bill in Ballot Measure 2 on November 4, 2014. Once the law went into effect in 2015, sales for recreational weed were able to begin on February 21, 2016. Medical cannabis became legal in Alaska in 1998 when Ballot Measure 8, the Alaska Medical Marijuana Initiative, was voted in favor of. Any patient with a medical marijuana card can possess and consume marijuana legally. Did you know that Alaska was the second state in the US to legalize medical cannabis after California? To learn more about the legalization of marijuana in Alaska, visit the official site for Alaska’s Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office


In Arizona, recreational marijuana became legal on November 3, 2020. During the 2020 election, Arizona citizens voted in favor of the Smart and Safe Arizona Act. Recreational weed sales were allowed to start in April 2021. Medical cannabis became legal in Arizona in 2010. Even though marijuana for recreational and medical use is legal for adults 21 years or older, Arizona enforces strict laws regarding marijuana when it comes to advertising and the environment. For more information regarding the legalization of marijuana for both medical and adult use in Arizona, please check out the Arizona Department of Health Services government website.    


Medical cannabis has been legal in California since 1996, when the Compassionate Use Act was approved. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana for patients with qualifying conditions. Twenty years later, on November 8, 2016, recreational marijuana was approved by voters. In 2018, it was officially legal for the sale of recreational weed in California. Adults 21 and older can legally obtain and consume marijuana and give cannabis to other adults as a gift if no payment is exchanged. For more information about cannabis laws and California regulations, check out the California Cannabis Portal


One of the first states to legalize weed for recreational use, Colorado made history on November 6, 2012, when voters passed the Colorado Marijuana Legalization Amendment. Legal sales for adult marijuana use started in 2014. Colorado had previously legalized cannabis for medical use in 2000. If you are 18 or older and have medical conditions that qualify for medical cannabis, you may consume and purchase medical marijuana in Colorado. Since the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2012, there have been a couple of bills that amend the laws regarding public consumption in the state. In 2019, certain establishments such as clubs, lounges, and cafes began allowing marijuana consumption on the premises. Another added legislation in 2019 made delivery services legal for recreational and medical marijuana. You can find out more details from the state of Colorado regarding laws about marijuana use.


Recreational cannabis was legalized in Connecticut on July 1, 2021, and marijuana sales will start in May of 2022. As of now, recreational users can possess up to 1.5 ounces on them and also have up to five ounces of marijuana stored in a vehicle or at home. Since 2012, Connecticut has been a proponent of medical marijuana for those with qualifying health conditions, making cannabis legal for those with medical marijuana cards. In Connecticut, the Department of Consumer Protection heads the Medical Marijuana Program. The state of Connecticut thoroughly tests cannabis for contaminants before distributing any marijuana products at a dispensary. In October 2021, medical patients were able to grow up to three mature and three immature marijuana plants. For recreational users, growing cannabis at home is currently illegal, but the new law says that by 2023, all adults should be able to home grow. To learn more about the legalization of cannabis in Connecticut, please see Connecticut’s Official State Website, Adult-Use Cannabis in Connecticut.


Medical cannabis has been legal in Illinois since 2014, when the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act was approved for patients who have qualifying medical conditions. In 2019, Illinois became the first state where recreational marijuana was approved through state government legislation without being voted on by the citizens of Illinois. On January 1, 2020, recreational weed was legalized for consumption and possession for adults 21 or older. For cannabis frequently asked questions, visit the Illinois Cannabis Resource Site. 


As early as 1999, medical marijuana has been legal in Maine. It took the state ten years to open medical dispensaries. In 2009, voters approved An Act to Establish the Maine Medical Marijuana Act. While the Act to Legalize Marijuana was approved on November 8, 2016, it took Maine four years to be able to sell recreational marijuana legally. On October 9, 2020, adults were legally able to obtain and consume weed in the state of Maine. To learn more about adult use and medical use of marijuana, browse the Department of Administrative and Financial Services Office of Marijuana Policy for the State of Maine


Possession and sales of medical marijuana have been legal since 2013 in the state of Maryland; however, it wasn’t until just recently that the state legalized recreational products as well. In 2022, Maryland voters decided to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use. This legislation will take effect in July of 2023. You can learn more about legalization in Maryland on the Marijuana Policy Project website to learn more.


On November 8, 2016, Massachusetts approved a law that made recreational marijuana legal. Four years later, on January 1, 2020, the sale of weed in Massachusetts was allowed. Medical cannabis, on the other hand, was legal back in 2012 when the Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative was approved. While both recreational and medical marijuana are legal in Massachusetts, towns, cities, landlords, and employers may have their own rules regarding the use of cannabis. Check out the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) for up-to-date government regulations in the state of Massachusetts. 


Michigan voters approved the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act in 2008, which made medical cannabis legal in the state. In November 2018, Michigan legalized marijuana for recreational use for adults 21 or older. On December 1, 2019, dispensaries were allowed to sell recreational weed in the state of Michigan legally. Similar to California, the state of Michigan approves the delivery of marijuana but requires that the person who ordered, whether for medical or recreational use, is both 21 or older and the person who is receiving the delivery. In-depth legal information for medical or adult use can be found online on the Marijuana Regulatory Agency page


Missouri residents have been able to consume medical cannabis in the state since 2018. Shortly after, in 2020, nearly 200 licensed dispensaries opened up for the licensed sales of medical marijuana. Finally, in 2022, recreational cannabis was legalized as well. While some states took decades to legalize weed for both medical and recreational use, Missouri’s entire journey took place in four short years. Possession of cannabis was legalized in December 2022, while retail licenses will come into effect in February of 2023. You can read more about Adult Use of Marijuana on the Missouri Health & Senior Services website.


Since 2004, medical cannabis has been legal in Montana. When the law went into effect, medical patients who qualified for medical conditions could only purchase their medical marijuana from one provider. In the spring of 2020, Montana amended that rule so that patients weren’t limited to one dispensary. During the November 2020 election, voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in Montana. The law went into effect on January 1, 2021, and sales are expected to start in January 2022 for adults 21 or older. The Montana Department of Revenue features an I-190 Adult-Use Marijuana Frequently Asked Questions page on its site, which is an excellent resource for more information regarding the laws associated with marijuana in the state of Montana.   


In 2016, Nevada made recreational marijuana legal for adults ages 21 or over. This law went into effect on January 1, 2017. Back in 2000, medical cannabis was legalized in Nevada. The state of Nevada is also home to the first drive-through dispensary, which opened in 2017 in Las Vegas. If you’d like to know more about the laws and regulations according to the Cannabis Compliance Board in the state of Nevada, be sure to check out their site.

New Jersey

The state of New Jersey has been a legal medical marijuana state since 2010, when the law went into effect. During the November 2020 presidential election, citizens voted to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey. Recreational weed became legal on January 1, 2021. To find out more about the state of New Jersey’s rules and regulations regarding Marijuana Decriminalization and Cannabis Legalization, visit the Department of Law & Public Safety site. 

New Mexico

In New Mexico, recreational cannabis was legalized for anyone 21 years of age or older on June 29, 2021. All marijuana sales are slated to start by April 1, 2022. Since July 2007, when the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act went into effect, New Mexico has made medical cannabis legal for anyone with a qualifying medical condition and a valid medical marijuana card. In June 2020, a new regulation to the medical marijuana industry required that all medical cannabis be properly tested by a licensed cannabis testing laboratory before being sold to medical patients at a licensed marijuana dispensary. To find out more about New Mexico’s policies regarding recreational and medical marijuana, see the New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department’s Cannabis Control Division and New Mexico Department of Health’s Medical Cannabis Program.

New York

Since June 2014, medical cannabis has been legal for medical patients in New York under the Compassionate Care Act. Dispensaries are allowed to sell marijuana in many forms, except for smokable flowers, according to the New York Department of Health. However, this may change for medical marijuana. Recreational marijuana became legal in New York in March 2021 when the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act was passed. Currently, adults 21 and over may store up to five ounces of marijuana flower and possess up to 24 grams of cannabis concentrates as well as three ounces of cannabis. Sales for recreational marijuana are expected to begin in New York in 2023. While most states have many rules and regulations for their cannabis testing, New York tests for salmonella and E. coli - two contaminants that no other state tests their cannabis for. At this time, there is no cannabis home growing allowed in New York, but the new law says the state must set rules for medical marijuana by the end of 2021 and put rules into place for recreational users to grow their own marijuana by the end of 2022. For all information regarding the legalization of marijuana in New York, please see the Office of Cannabis Management and the New York State Department of Health for the Medical Marijuana Program.


Adults 21 years or older can legally obtain and consume both medical and recreational marijuana in Oregon. In November 2014, voters approved the recreational marijuana bill making recreational use legal in Oregon. Recreational weed has been sold legally in Oregon since 2015. One of the earliest states to make medical cannabis legal, Oregon voters passed the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act in 1998. Medical patients must be at least 18 years old with qualifying conditions to obtain medical cannabis legally. The combination of Oregon soil and sun allows the state’s weed farmers to produce an abundance of marijuana. Because of this, government officials in the state of Oregon are petitioning that these cannabis cultivators export their recreational cannabis to some of the other states that have already legalized marijuana. To learn more about Oregon’s rules regarding the legalization of marijuana, see the Oregon Health Authority’s Medical Marijuana Program FAQs

Rhode Island

In 2006, Rhode Island became the 11th state to legalize medical marijuana. By 2009, the state became one of the first to implement a medical cannabis dispensary system that allowed consumers to shop from government regulated stores. However, it wasn’t until December of 2022 that recreational cannabis was also legalized for sale across the state. You can read the official announcement from the governor online to learn about some of the first medical and recreational hybrid dispensaries.


In 2004, Vermont became a legal medical cannabis state. It took fourteen years for Vermont to legalize recreational marijuana, but the issue is that it’s still not legal to sell marijuana in Vermont. It’s estimated that by May 1, 2022, retail sales could be legal in Vermont. Since this state is still in the process of legalizing marijuana for sale, check back to see what the Vermont Department of Health website says on its Let’s Talk Cannabis page


On July 1, 2021, Virginia was added to the list of states that have legalized recreational marijuana. At this time, the state of Virginia became the first southern state to legalize recreational cannabis. Cannabis retail sales will not begin until January 1, 2024, but recreational users 21 or over may grow up to four plants or possess one ounce or less of cannabis. In 2020, Virginia approved medical marijuana for patients with debilitating conditions, and they can purchase cannabis oil and other derived marijuana products from any of the four licensed dispensaries in the state. In Virginia, marijuana flower is not legal for either medical or recreational use. To learn more about the recreational and medical marijuana legalization in Virginia, please check out the government site, Cannabis in Virginia, as well as the Virginia Department of Health Professions Board of Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Processors - Medical Cannabis.


Washington state was one of the first to legalize medical marijuana in 1998. In 2012, the Washington Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Initiative was passed, making recreational marijuana legal as well. Although legal for consumption, sales of cannabis weren’t legalized until 2014. For more information about the legalization of marijuana in Washington, learn more from the Washington State Department of Health Marijuana FAQs

States Where Medical Marijuana is Legal

As of now, a total of eighteen states have legalized cannabis for medical use only. These states are as follows: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia.

To obtain marijuana for medicinal purposes, you must have a medical marijuana card. While this is preferred for medical patients, since medical marijuana costs less than recreational, we're still hoping for full legalization in these states in the near future. For more information on how to get your medical marijuana card, check out your state’s regulations.  

States Where Marijuana is Illegal

So far, marijuana is illegal in eleven states, including Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Which of these states will be next to legalize marijuana?

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