Medical and Recreational Marijuana Laws by State

                                                           

The legalization of marijuana is something that is happening across the United States. While this is true, the rules and regulations vary, and knowing what they are is important. Keep reading to know more about the laws for the medical and recreational use of marijuana by state. 

States That Have Legalized the Medical Use of Marijuana 

As of July 2022, 38 states have legalized the medical use of cannabis. While this is true, there are still rules and regulations regarding what is considered legal, which vary from state to state. 

The states where the medical use of marijuana is legal include:

  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Connecticut
  • Colorado
  • California
  • Illinois
  • Hawaii
  • Florida
  • Maryland
  • Maine
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • Michigan
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • New Jersey
  • New Hampshire
  • Nevada
  • North Dakota
  • New York
  • New Mexico
  • Oregon
  • Oklahoma
  • Ohio
  • South Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia
  • Vermont
  • Utah
  • West Virginia
  • Washington

Additionally, the District of Columbia and the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands have all legalized the use of medical marijuana. 

States That Have Legalized the Recreational Use of Marijuana 

There are currently 19 states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana by adults. The District of Columbia has done this, as well. The states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana include:

  • Colorado
  • Washington
  • California
  • Virginia
  • Arizona
  • Vermont
  • Alaska
  • Oregon
  • Connecticut
  • Rhode Island
  • Illinois
  • Nevada
  • Maine
  • New York
  • Massachusetts
  • New Mexico
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • Montana
  • Washington

The use of recreational marijuana is also legal in the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam. 

Understanding the Federal Law and Its Stance on Marijuana

The DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) still sees marijuana as a Schedule I drug. It was assigned this classification in the Controlled Substances Act created in 1970. As a Schedule I drug, it means there is no accepted medical use and that it has a high potential to be abused. Some of the other drugs that are classified as Schedule I drugs include LSD and heroin. What’s surprising is that marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug (one of the most dangerous types) while cocaine is a Schedule II drug. 

Former President Barack Obama encouraged the Justice Department to let state authorities handle the punishment of individuals who were caught with illegal amounts of marijuana back in 2013. His encouragement was based on the assurance that the states would ensure the proper regulatory system for this substance. 

This was called the Cole Memorandum; however, in 2018, it was rescinded by Jeff Sessions, who served as Attorney General under former President Donald Trump. Since President Joe Biden has taken office, the new Attorney General has encouraged him to reinstate it. 

Understanding the Legality of Marijuana in Your State 

It’s important to understand what is considered legal regarding marijuana use in your state. The information above provides a good overview of where it is legal. If your state is not mentioned, it’s a good idea to look into what the law says about it to know your rights.
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