There Are Still 12 States with Almost No Legal Marijuana

DISCLAIMER: Content in this article is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute for advice given by legal counsel. Always seek the guidance of legal counsel with any questions you may have.

In the world of legalized cannabis, everything seems to always be changing. Legislation is passing, prohibition is falling away, marijuana is becoming more and more mainstream, times are changing. That is, at least for some places.

There are, believe it or not, a few areas in the United States that have not moved their needle further toward progress, or in any direction at all, for that matter. Yup, it's true: there are still states with no legal marijuana. Some even don't have any medical marijuana programs either.

It might seem a little crazy — especially imagining a country where you can go into a dispensary in Seattle, Denver, and many other cities, pick out some weed, and enjoy it guilt-free in the comfort of your home (or in some cases, even in a public setting like a smoking lounge), and then a border dictates that not only is consumption illegal, but you can go to jail for it.

Alas, the beauty of state-recognized rights is that each of the 50 is allowed to pass their own legislation...or not. These states are some of the few states with no legal marijuana  in sight.

The Strictest of the Strict

welcome to idaho sign
Editorial credit: Karin Hildebrand Lau / Shutterstock.com

Idaho 

As far as strict anti-cannabis legislation goes, Idaho is literally the best example. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, Idaho is the only remaining state that does not acknowledge medical cannabis under the law in any way. And still, the state has very rigid criminalization laws: under current state law, a person who is charged with possession of weed—up to an ounce — can face a year in jail, and/or a fine up to $1000.

In both 2015 and 2018, bills were proposed to protect sick patients suffering from strict conditions as long as they used CBD oils with little to no THC, but they were never passed.

For states with no legal marijuana, Idaho tops the list.

Still Extremely Strict

nug falling out of pill bottle

South Dakota

Because South Dakota allows small, controlled access to CBD, it can't fully be considered a state with no legal marijuana. It is, however, a state with one of the nation's harshest punishments for those that are charged with possession: a year in jail and a $2,000 fine, even for a small amount.

Those who are tried for possession can also face a penalty if they test positive for cannabis consumption, even if it was used in a different, legal state. Additionally, possession of any amount of either concentrates or hash is categorized as a felony, and even owning a pipe or other weed accessory can lead to a month of prison time, $500 fine, and a misdemeanor charge. Keep your pipes at home if you're crossing into SoDak any time soon.

Wyoming

Here's the good news for Wyoming residents: the state allows the use of CBD oil for seizures. However, the qualifying conditions are extremely limited, as Wyoming is one of 18 states without a functional MMJ law. There's more bad news, sadly: many lawmakers in Wyoming are actually trying to increase marijuana possession penalties — allowing for three grams of a concentrate or edible to lead to a felony charge — as of 2018. It hasn't passed, thankfully.

Wisconsin

You can help yourself to copious amounts of beer and cheese while you're in Wisconsin, but don't think about reaching for a joint. As a state without legal marijuana, Wisconsin has fallen behind, not even offering its citizens a decriminalization law or medical cannabis program.

The most that Wisconsin can offer is Act 4, which protects patients suffering from a seizure disorder who have signed medical permission to possess CBD, though the production and distribution of those products is still illegal within the state.

Kansas

Among states with no full legal MMJ program and a history of hefty cannabis criminalization, Kansas sits as a very strict no legal marijuana state. In fact, since Missouri's move to legalize medical cannabis in 2018, Kansas borders three states with more progressive laws on both medicinal and adult use.

At this time, the state of Kansas allows CBD products, as long as they don't contain any traces of THC. The law, SB 282, was passed in November 2018 and took effect in May of that year. There isn't any way for consumers to access CBD oil in the state, which leaves more room for a fully comprehensive medical program.

Kentucky

Things were looking to change in Kentucky, which still has penalties for possession and only has limited CBD oil access, in March 2019: the Kentucky House Judiciary Committee held a vote that would allow a medical marijuana program to infiltrate the state. There was a 16-1 in favor vote of the legislature. Unfortunately, the House was out of session the following week, abandoning any action on the bill in question. Now citizens and voters will have to wait another year to restart the process and hopefully pass an MMJ bill through the legislature.

Alabama

The stats for the criminalization of cannabis in Alabama are alarming; according to Norml.org, consumers charged with personal use possession can face a year in prison and up to $6,000 in fines, though the penalty is a misdemeanor rather than a felony. But watch out for hash and concentrates — having any amount in the state can result in a $15,000 fine, between one and 10 years in jail, and a felon status.

The only silver lining in regards to marijuana is that CBD oil is allowed for a handful of medicinal uses, per a statewide qualification.

Tennessee

At the moment, Tennessee exists as one of the states with no legal marijuana laws in place. There are exceptions in place for high-CBD, low-THC oils, however, for patients suffering from seizures. For the bulk of cannabis consumers, cultivators, and lovers, the herb is forbidden. Both owning and growing marijuana is considered a misdemeanor offense, punishable by one to six years behind bars and a $5,000 fine, decreased in 2016 from felony level charges.

South Carolina

South Carolina, while still a state without any legal marijuana, is a little lighter on the criminalization of weed. Possession can still result in a misdemeanor, but the penalties are much less severe. Fortunately, medical cannabis bills are set to appear before local lawmakers in 2019, hopefully to establish a comprehensive and compassionate legislature for medical patients.

Other States with No Legal Marijuana:

North Carolina

Mississippi

Nebraska

Strict, But with MMJ At Least

The following are just a few of the states that technically have medical marijuana programs, but are exceedingly difficult for patients to qualify for.

  • Georgia. Georgia's Hope Act gives medical consumers access to low-THC cannabis oil, despite the state's otherwise strict laws and history of racial marijuana-related bias.
  • Texas. Texas is brutal even for a state with a medical marijuana program. It has an extremely difficult program to qualify for low THC-oil, with only one condition accepted.
  • Florida. Sure, there's an MMJ program in Florida, but beyond tough qualifying conditions, the approved dispensaries themselves are few and far between.
  • Iowa. Like many states, Iowa has limited access to low-THC oil as of December 2018, sold only to qualifying patients. The key is that the oil cannot contain more than three percent THC.

Keep up-to-date on the latest cannabis news at Leafbuyer.com, and be aware if you live in one of the states with no legal marijuana legislation.

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Savannah
Savannah is a freelance writer based in Western Colorado. She hopes that her work with Leafbuyer inspires education and insight into the cannabis industry, and often writes with novice users and first-time inquirers in mind.