Cannabis might be illegal at the federal level in the United States, but that hasn’t stopped individual states from passing their own legislation regarding the use, sale, and production of marijuana products. The process of buying cannabis across the US is different at state level. This has made legal cannabis available to millions of Americans. Because of this, marijuana legal states have attracted cannabis users from around the country, and become hotspots for cannabis tourism and visitors from around the world.
Remember, no two states have identical cannabis laws, so it is important to know the rules of buying cannabis across the U.S. Here, we’re going to cover the rules regarding the purchase and use of cannabis in states where weed is legal, and share tips to help you stay safe and informed when buying cannabis across the US.
Is Cannabis Legal in the United States?
At the federal level, cannabis is considered a Schedule I drug as defined by the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I drugs are considered to have a ‘high potential for abuse’ and have ‘no currently accepted medical use’. The Schedule I category also includes substances like heroin, showing just how far federal perceptions of cannabis are from actual evidence-based public and medical opinion.
Despite many efforts from cannabis advocacy groups and many attempts to pass legislation easing federal restrictions on marijuana, cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, yes, even medical. Because of this, many states have taken it upon themselves to create laws and regulations regarding the use and sale of both medical and recreational cannabis and cannabis products. Since the passing of the 2014 Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment (which protects individuals in marijuana legal states from federal prosecution), the American cannabis industry has seen a drastic increase with 33 states now participating in medical marijuana programs, and 15 states fully legalizing recreational marijuana for adult users.
Is Hemp Legal In the United States?
Hemp has been cultivated by humans around the world for centuries and was even grown by first United States president George Washington. Used to make commercial goods like paper products, rope, textiles, and fuel, hemp was widely produced throughout the U.S. until the late 1930s with the passing of the Marihuana Tax Act.
Meant to reduce the availability of cannabis to stop recreational use, the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act also made it more expensive to import and produce hemp, making the crop more scarce and virtually stamping out the commercial hemp market. Later, the passing of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970 made hemp a Schedule I drug, a status it would maintain until the ‘90s when food-grade hemp products became legal to import. Slow progress over the next three decades finally culminated in the 2018 Farm Bill, when hemp plants were officially removed from the Controlled Substances Act and made legal to grow, sell, and purchase throughout the U.S.
But, isn’t hemp the same thing as cannabis? Actually, yes! While hemp and marijuana are two variations of the same plant species (cannabis), hemp’s lower THC content is what has given it a ‘cleaner’ reputation than marijuana. Hemp contains 0.3% or less THC by weight, and while this number is somewhat arbitrary, anything higher is still considered federally illegal.
States Where Cannabis Is Legal
Despite plenty of federal pushback and decades of stagnation preventing any movement regarding the legalization of cannabis in the U.S., there are 15 states (plus Washington DC) where cannabis lovers can legally purchase and consume weed.
Alaska – Rules of Buying Cannabis Across this US State
Recreational marijuana was legalized in Alaska in 2014, and today, adults 21+ are permitted to have up to an ounce of weed and up to six plants at a time. Legal adults may consume cannabis on their private property or in designated and licensed cannabis retailers. Alaskans can purchase recreational marijuana from dispensaries, but delivery of both medical and recreational cannabis is still prohibited.
Arizona – Cannabis made Legal
Arizona is one of the most recent states to join those permitting the purchase and sale of recreational marijuana, and Arizona residents will be able to begin enjoying legal weed as of November 30th, 2020. Adults 21+ will be able to possess up to an ounce of weed or 5 grams of concentrate at a time, just so long as you consume it in private on your property. While medical marijuana patients in Arizona are already permitted to grow cannabis plants and order cannabis delivery, recreational users are not.
California – Rules and Regulations
Recreational marijuana was legalized in California in 2016, permitting adults 21+ to purchase and possess up to an ounce of flower or 8 grams of concentrate at a time. Like most states, California requires you to consume marijuana on private property or away from public spaces, but the state does have more lenient regulations regarding cultivation and delivery. Californians can grow up to 6 cannabis plants at a time, and can enjoy recreational and medical cannabis delivery from legal weed delivery services, even in areas designated as ‘ban towns.’
Colorado – The First State to Legalize Marijuana
Colorado was the first U.S. state to legalize recreational marijuana with the passing of Amendment 64 in 2012. Colorado residents 21+ can purchase up to one ounce of flower or 8 grams of concentrate at a time and are permitted to grow up to 6 plants in their homes. Colorado residents can also enjoy cannabis delivery, though unlike California, delivery is restricted by some ‘ban towns’ which have opted out of legalization.
Illinois – Recently legalized Cannabis Use
Illinois joined 10 other legal states in 2019, allowing adults 21 and over to purchase, possess, and consume recreational cannabis. Residents 21+ are allowed to possess/purchase up to 30 grams of flower at a time and can enjoy up to 5 grams of concentrate or 500mg of cannabis-infused products. Though Illinois has embraced the cannabis industry with dozens of dispensaries popping up throughout the state, the cultivation of cannabis plants and delivery of cannabis products is still prohibited.
Maine – For Buying and Growing Cannabis
Adult use of recreational marijuana was legalized in Maine in 2016 where adults 21+ are now permitted to purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis. If you love growing your own, Maine might be the place for you, since residents can have up to 3 mature/flowering plants, 12 seedlings, and unlimited cannabis seeds. Additionally, Maine cannabis delivery is some of the best in the country, making this state a favorite of cannabis tourists and enthusiasts.
Massachusetts – Legalised Weed in 2016
Recreational marijuana possession, purchase, and use became legal in Massachusetts in 2016, allowing residents 21 years and older to hold up to one ounce of flower or 5 grams of concentrate at a time. Massachusetts residents are also permitted to grow up to 6 plants each, with a limit of 12 plants per household. Although medical patients can order cannabis delivery, this service is not currently available to recreational marijuana users in Massachusetts.
Michigan – Has Some of the Most Lenient Laws
The first midwestern state to legalize recreational marijuana, Michigan passed Proposal 1 in 2018 to legalize adult use. With some of the most lenient possession laws in the country, Michigan residents are permitted to possess up to 10 ounces of cannabis in their homes, though they may only travel throughout the state with up to 2.5 ounces. Adults 21+ are additionally allowed to grow up to 12 cannabis plants at a time and is currently allowing limited recreational delivery services.
Montana – A recent addition to Legalization
Thanks to the November 2020 election, Montana is set to become the next state to legalize recreational adult marijuana use. Adults 21 and older will be able to purchase up to an ounce of flower or 8 grams of concentrate at a time and will be able to grow up to 4 cannabis plants in their private residence.
Recreational marijuana became legal in Nevada in 2016 where residents 21 and older are permitted to purchase and possess up to an ounce of marijuana and 3.5 grams of concentrate at a time. If you want to grow cannabis in Nevada, you have to live at least 25 miles from any dispensary, but with cannabis delivery becoming more available to Nevada residents, even those living far from dispensaries can purchase recreational marijuana.
Like Montana, New Jersey became one of the next states to legalize recreational marijuana during the November 2020 election. Specific regulations regarding purchasing limits, dispensary licensing, and cultivation are yet to be established, but recreational users 21+ are expected to be able to begin enjoying legal weed sometime in 2021.
Since 2014, Oregon residents have been able to enjoy a plethora of recreational marijuana products from legal dispensaries around the state. Adults 21 and older are permitted to purchase and possess up to an ounce of flower or an ounce of concentrate at a time for consumption in a designated area or a private residence. Adults may also grow up to 4 cannabis plants at a time – provided they are not visible to the public – and enjoy widely available cannabis delivery.
Beginning in 2019, South Dakota has been working towards a full legalization of cannabis set to roll out in full effect in 2022. Though South Dakota has yet to finalize regulations that would allow commercial sales to begin, South Dakota residents 21+ are currently permitted to possess up to an ounce of flower or 8 grams of concentrate.
Adult use of recreational marijuana became legal in Vermont in 2018, allowing adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of flower. Though Vermont has been slow to provide commercial retailers with licenses and permits to begin the sale of recreational cannabis, adults are permitted to grow up to two mature and seven seedling marijuana plants at a time.
Washington became one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012 with Colorado, making Washington one of the United States’ most well-known cannabis hot-spots. Adults 21 and older in Washington can purchase up to an ounce of marijuana flower or 7 grams of concentrate at a time, and enjoy premium products from dozens of dispensaries throughout the state. Despite being one of the most well-known cannabis-friendly states, Washington residents are not permitted to grow their own cannabis plants, and delivery is not available in the state.
Though not technically a state, Washington D.C. has its own rules regarding recreational marijuana. After years of debate and fiery discussion from politicians on every side of the issue, recreational marijuana became legal for D.C. residents in 2014. Adult users 21 and up are permitted to possess up to two ounces of cannabis at a time and are allowed to grow up to 6 plants in their private residence. Despite a relatively high purchase and possession limit, D.C. does not allow cannabis delivery, even for medical patients.
Can You Buy Cannabis In a State that Hasn’t Approved Recreational Cannabis Laws?
If your state has yet to legalize recreational cannabis for adult use, there may still be a way for you to legally purchase marijuana; though only 15 states permit recreational marijuana, 33 states have legalized medical use. The process of being approved for medical marijuana differs from state to state, and in some, you may only be able to purchase concentrates, sublingual, edible, and non-flower products. That said, many states permit patients with a wide range of conditions to qualify for medical marijuana, so it may be easier to get your card than you would expect.
If your state doesn’t have recreational or medical marijuana, you are most likely out of luck when it comes to purchasing cannabis legally. Remember, some states still serve up long, painful sentences to individuals caught with illegal cannabis, so be sure to research before making any purchases if you do not live in a legal state.
Can you Fly with Cannabis?
Put simply: No, you cannot fly with cannabis. Though certain products are transported across state lines and from legal state to legal state, your average citizen is not permitted to fly while in the possession of cannabis. Federal regulations prohibit the possession, use, sale, and purchase of marijuana, so it is considered unlawful to travel between states with cannabis or cannabis products.