A Closer Look at Legal Marijuana Use in the U.S.

In the U.S., extensive medical use of marijuana or cannabis, is legal only in states that have approved statutes in place.

Currently, the list includes Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Two (2) others, Guam and Pennsylvania, have approved legislations governing marijuana use but still non-operational. Laws mostly indicate the legal amount of marijuana to carry in one’s possession, the type of cannabis medication allowed as treatment; and in some cases, the maximum number of marijuana plants allowed for cultivation within a household.

The state with the most liberal law legalizing marijuana is California. Unlike other jurisdictions, California allows adults aged 21 and above, to use marijuana for recreational purposes. Possession however, must be limited to one ounce. Cultivation of up to six marijuana plants is permitted; but only for personal use. California marijuana laws prohibit the sale of marijuana by non-accredited dispensaries. Anyone caught doing so will be fined and incarcerated for six (6) months.

A State Approved Marijuana Medical Program Does Not Signify Legality of Marijuana Use

Many are of the notion that if a state has a Marijuana Medical Program, the region already legalized marijuana for medical purposes. On the contrary, such programs are only in place to regulate medical practitioners and caregivers in recommending the use of cannabis as medical treatment.

U.S. states like Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia, all have marijuana medical programs in place. In those states, possession and personal use of marijuana is still illegal. Offenders will either be fined and/or incarcerated.

State marijuana medical programs likewise differ in certain aspects, particularly with the type of cannabis medication allowed. Some medical programs allow only cannabidiol (CBD) and/or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) oils. If a state includes treatment of opioid dependency in its approved medical program, smoking marijuana as a form of medication may be permitted. As a rule, accredited dispensaries sell marijuana medication only to state residents. Still, there are marijuana medical programs that permit dispensing to non-residents, but only on a case-to-case basis.

Marijuana use even for treatment purposes is definitely illegal in jurisdictions that do not have marijuana medical programs.