It’s been over 20 years since the first US state successfully passed laws legalizing medical marijuana (tip of the hat to you, California). Nowadays, more than half of US states have similarly created their own legal track to transport suffering and ill residents to the, very real, medical benefits of marijuana. During these decades, the social climate has been changed, technology has evolved, and support for marijuana – either medically or as an effort to decriminalize and regulate its sale – has continued to grow.
Unsurprisingly, then, the list of states with legal weed – whether medical or recreational – has continued to expand.
Social Inertia for the Weed Savvy
The continued rise in support for marijuana points to social energy and acceptance of changing attitudes and information, yet energy and acceptance are two incredibly different sources of motivation. Public support for legal weed in the states can come from public energy – a sort of excitement and momentum balled up and tossed around linking common interests to the lives of certain population segments.
Alternatively, support may come from acceptance of failed US drug policy; agreement in the actual medical value worth exploring exists within cannabis and understanding that there are remarkably better uses of government dollars. In either case, the support of changing marijuana laws has inspired the residents of a few bold US states to stand in further opposition to the federal law.
In making weed legal, some states have pushed through into one of the most exciting emerging markets in the world. Not only for the tax revenues or built-in users and demand but because the real value of laws legalizing marijuana is the erosion of the illegal, black market marijuana sales – a win with far-reaching consequences.
Sixteen years following California’s step into the medical marijuana world, Colorado and Washington took the first plunge into recreational, adult use marijuana in 2012. Though each state took until 2014 (January and July, respectively) to fully implement their new marijuana industry, each victory was seen as a snapshot of the hopeful possibilities in the years to follow.
Since then, six other states, plus the District of Columbia, have passed laws allowing adults 21 and older to possess and use limited amounts of marijuana or marijuana-infused products. As more states pass legal weed with each election cycle, we thought it would be a good idea to brief you on the various recreational or adult use of marijuana laws having already passed the public vote.
Colorado is the first fully legal weed state in the US, organizing and implementing their recreational market seven months before Washington recreational dispensaries would open their doors. These days, weed sales have surpassed $100 million every month for nearly a year straight.
- Recreational consumers (aka adults 21 and older) can grow up to six (6) plants, provided no more than three (3) are flowering or budding at any one time. There is a maximum of twelve (12) plants per residence, however, limiting homes with more than two adults to a sharing economy.
- Colorado marijuana dispensaries can sell up to one ounce (28 grams) of fresh marijuana buds to a recreational customer during any one purchase. Colorado has further elaborated, limiting concentrate sales to eight (8) grams (wax, oil, shatter, rosin, etc..) and edible sales to 800mg per transaction.
- Marijuana cannot be used in public places such as parks, alleyways, or by schools.
- Recreational dispensaries DO NOT exist in every city. Local governments can ban or limit recreational marijuana sales, but do nothing to stop home growing or personal marijuana use.
Washington passed legal weed in the state in 2012 but didn’t get the program fully operational until July 2014. Since then, the marijuana industry has collected over $400 million in excise taxes to date – that’s in just three years! Legal weed in the state has generated close to $1.95 billion (yes, BILLION) in sales since July 2014 and shows no signs of slowing.
- Washington does not let their recreational consumers grow their own marijuana.
- Recreational dispensaries can sell one ounce (28 grams) of fresh marijuana buds, seven (7) grams of marijuana concentrates, sixteen (16) ounces of infused product in solid form (such as butter), or 72-ounces of marijuana in liquid form (such as a tincture)
- You CANNOT buy legal weed across the state. Certain county and city governments have limited or banned recreational marijuana sales.
- Public use of marijuana is technically illegal, but it is penalized only by a low fine and no criminal penalty. In Seattle, enforcement of marijuana use- and I hate to use this – is LITERALLY the lowest police priority
The next round of states to make weed legal came in 2014, with Oregon the first of the three to implement fully a recreational marijuana market. They did so in less than one year! Like Colorado and Washington, Oregon has continued to generate millions more in tax revenues than expected.
- Growing marijuana in Oregon is legal for both adults 21 and older and medical patients. Adults can grow as many as four (4) plants per person but are limited to a total of four (4) plants per residence no matter how many adults reside there.
- Oregon has a number of cities and counties where marijuana sales are banned, but this does not mean you cannot grow, possess, gift (up to an ounce of buds), or use marijuana in these places.
- Order it up like a pizza, because the delivery of marijuana is legal!
- Using marijuana anywhere in public remains punishable by fines. Exceeding the possession limit is punishable by criminal charges and heavier penalties. Oregon currently allows recreational users to possess up to an ounce of fresh marijuana buds OR five (5) grams of concentrates, sixteen (16) ounces of marijuana in solid form (butter), or 72 ounces of marijuana in liquid form (tincture or oil).
Capturing the most Northern US state, Alaska; in 2014, recreational marijuana laws were passed by voters. In the years that have followed, lawmakers and regulators across the state have slowed access and made finding recreational marijuana for sale a rare thing.
- Alaskans 21 and older can grow marijuana at home. Each adult can grow as many as six (6) plants. No more than three (3) plants may be mature and budding at any one time.
- Using marijuana in any public place remains a criminal penalty under Alaska law.
- Under Alaskan marijuana laws, recreational consumers can purchase up to one ounce (28 grams) of fresh buds OR seven (7) grams of concentrates, sixteen (16) ounces of marijuana in solid form, or 72 ounces of marijuana in liquid form.
Washington, D.C. has passed laws legalizing the possession and use of marijuana by anyone 21 or older in 2014; however, the program has yet to figure out a licensing structure for recreational dispensaries to become operational.
- Adults 21 and older can possess as much as two (2) ounces of fresh marijuana buds. At this time, no equivalency between flower, concentrates, or edible marijuana products are in place.
- Up to one ounce of marijuana can be gifted to other adults. Gift means transfer without any expectation of being paid or compensated in any way.
- Adults 21 and older can grow as many as six (6) plants and no more than three (3) may be fully mature at any time.
Maine joined the list of legal weed states in 2016 and has not, at the time of writing, implemented recreational sales. They are expected to begin in 2018.
- Consumers may possess as much as 5 ounces of marijuana. Under the law passed by voters, there is no equivalency between flower, concentrates, or edible marijuana products. Only time will tell if this is revised by state legislators.
- Adults 21 and up can grow as many as six (6) mature marijuana plants, with as many as twelve (12) immature at any one time.
Massachusetts is the largest population in the Northeastern US to fully legalize marijuana. Passing in November 2016, the measure has been signed into law but has not been fully implemented yet. Under the current timeline, recreational dispensaries are not expected until July 2018 or later.
- Adults 21 and older can possess as much as one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana buds OR up to five (5) grams of marijuana concentrate.
- Adults 21 and over can grow as many as six (6) plants and, similar to Colorado, no more than twelve (12) plants can be grown in each residence.
Nevada, home to Las Vegas, high mountain desert, and the Hoover Dam passed recreational marijuana laws in November 2016. The state has done a wonderful job, creating a licensing framework for medical dispensaries to become recreational first. With having recreational sales begin on July 1st, 2017, the state achieved an eight (8) month turnaround from the time the law was signed by the Governor to the time customers could fill their brains and bodies with cannabinoids.
- Adults age 21 and over can possess and purchase as much as one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana buds or up to 3.5 grams (1/8th oz) of marijuana concentrates.
- Edibles are to be limited to 100mg each, divided into equal 10mg doses.
- Adult users can grow marijuana at home. Each person 21 and older can grow as many as six plants, under certain conditions.
California is the green behemoth, packing more economic activity into its borders than all but five other countries in the world. Combined with decades of cannabis culture, California is poised to become a cannabis powerhouse never seen before in the modern world.
- Adults 21 and older can purchase as much as one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana buds or eight (8) grams of marijuana concentrates.
- Adults 21 and older can grow as many as six (6) plants per person; however, at no time can more than six (6) plants be grown per residence.
Public consumption remains illegal. Public places include parks, libraries, buses, trains, schools, churches, and anywhere you can reasonably assume you are in a place accessible to the public.