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CANNABIS LEGALIZATION MAP: WHERE IS CANNABIS LEGAL IN THE US?

Curious which states permit cannabis use? Check out our cannabis legalization map to see where and to what extent cannabis is legal in the United States.

Cannabis legalization has come a long way since Colorado became the first state to permit the sale of recreational cannabis in 2012. Since then, dispensaries have sprung up across the country, and in 2020 alone, marijuana sales increased 71% due in part to the global pandemic and greater availability in the form of curbside pick-up at dispensaries and online ordering at home. Leafly has the full report.

It’s hard to project what the cannabis legalization map will look like in the years to come with states like Idaho, Nebraska, and Kansas still holding out on legalization, but as it currently stands, there are 36 states that have legalized cannabis in some form, and decriminalization laws continue to reposition our views and alleviate the stigma around cannabis use.

What States Have Recreational Cannabis?

As of July 2021, 18 states have legalized recreational cannabis with South Dakota as one of the most recent states to legalize cannabis possession for adults. That law went into effect on July 1, 2021. 

In addition to South Dakota, Montana, New Jersey, Vermont, and Arizona also all legalized recreational cannabis use in November 2020. While many of these states are still drafting regulations for commercial sales, recreational sales are slated to begin in 2022 in Montana with South Dakota, Vermont, and New Jersey trailing closely behind. Here is the current list of states that have legalized cannabis for recreational use:

Legal for Recreational UseLegal for Medicinal Use Only
Alaska (2014)
Arizona (2020)
California (2016)
Colorado (2012)
Connecticut (2021)
Illinois (2019)
Maine (2016)
Massachusetts (2016)
Michigan (2018)
Montana (2020)
Nevada (2016)
New Jersey (2020)
New York (2021)
Oregon (2014)
South Dakota (2020)
Vermont (2020)
Washington (2012)
Washington, DC (2015)
Alabama (2020)
Alaska (2014)
Arizona (2020)
Arkansas (2016)
California (2016)
Colorado (2012)
Connecticut (2021)
Delaware (2011)
Florida (2014)
Hawaii (2000)
Illinois (2019)
Iowa (2017)
Louisiana (2015)
Maine (2016)
Maryland (2017)
Massachusetts (2016)
Michigan (2018)
Minnesota (2014)
Missouri (2018)
Montana (2020)
Nevada (2016)
New Hampshire (2013)
New Jersey (2020)
New York (2021)
North Dakota (2016)
Ohio (2016)
Oklahoma (2018)
Oregon (2014)
Pennsylvania (2016)
Rhode Island (2006)
South Dakota (2020)
Utah (2018)
Vermont (2020)
Washington (2012)
Washington, DC (2015)
West Virginia (2017)

In addition to these states that have legalized cannabis for recreational use, Washington, DC and Guam also legally allow the recreational use of cannabis. In Guam, the Guam Cannabis Industry Act of 2019 legalized adult use for individuals 21 and over, and in Washington, DC recreational cannabis is also legal for adults, however the sale of cannabis remains illegal for anything but medical purposes.

What States Have Medical Cannabis?

Many states that don’t allow the sale and use of recreational cannabis do legally allow adults to use cannabis for medical purposes. In fact, 21 states permit the use of cannabis for medical reasons, bringing the total number of states with some level of marijuana legality to 36 as of July, 2021. And while this ability to determine legality at the state level is very by-design in the United States, it makes accessing marijuana in different parts of the country difficult, especially as it remains illegal at the federal level.

In Illinois, for example, both recreational and medical cannabis are legal, and adults 21 and older are legally allowed to possess up to 30g of cannabis, 5g of concentrate, and 500mg of infused edibles, Leafly reports. By contrast, Wisconsin still has very strict laws regarding cannabis, making possession in any amount punishable by six month’s incarceration and a $1,000 fine.

While Wisconsin does not make the cut in the list of states that have legalized cannabis, the number of states with medical cannabis currently tips the scales at 36, and that number is expected to keep growing.

Changing Views of Marijuana

The gradual switch in attitudes around cannabis has contributed greatly to the recent rush towards legalization. In 1990, only 16% of Americans supported legalization of cannabis. By 2018, that number had increased to 62%, nearly doubling in less than a decade. In younger demographics, that number is even higher. Around 74% of Millennials say weed should be legal, versus 54% of Baby Boomers, for example.

Studies have shown that the change in public opinion has likely been heavily influenced by a change in how the news media covers cannabis. Over the last 15 years, a shift to mentioning marijuana’s medical uses — instead of framing it as a drug or crime topic — has helped remove the stigma from its use.

Which Countries Have Legal Cannabis?

While the cannabis legalization map in the United States continues to change, the U.S. is not the only country where marijuana legalization is gaining traction. Upon passing its historic Cannabis Act in 2018, Canada became the largest country in the world where consumption and sales of marijuana fully legal. Across the globe, however, laws are far from consistent or clear.

  • In Uruguay, marijuana has been legal since 2013, but can only be bought by citizens.
  • Peru doesn’t not punish those in possession of cannabis, but only if it’s for personal, private, and immediate use.
  • Spain will not penalize people for growing or using, but buying is limited to private clubs requiring membership.
  • Famously, the Netherlands has laws making cannabis illegal but does not enforce them.
  • South Africa recently made marijuana legal to grow and use.

To stay up-to-date on cannabis-related news or to learn great tips for enjoying cannabis, to the max, in its many forms, sign up for the 421 Club and check back in to Cannabolish’s blog–we’re always sharing exciting use tips for Cannabolish and interesting facts about our favorite plant.