Bud is on the ballot in many states this election year. Some states barely register the fact weed exists and other states are glad their voters finally remembered that marijuana has been good and fine and safe all along. So when it comes to pot laws, where does the nation stand currently? Who has what? In which state can you do what, and where would they never allow such a thing? Before you hit the open road, its a good idea to know the state of the States when it comes to weed. Here's a quick run down of the United States of cannabis.
Legal for Medical and Recreational Use
In the states where the angels sing from mile high mountain tops, weed is legal for both recreational and medical use. A grand salute to the forward thinking voters of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington State for being America's pot pioneers. Colorado was the first place to have legal recreational sales starting in 2014. Everyone over 21 is allowed to possess an ounce of cannabis. Residents can have up to eight ounces in their home and grow up to six plants. The only thing that is illegal in Colorado is smoking weed in public. Considered by many as a violation of the first amendment, Colorado stoners protest the law by lighting up en masse at the state capital on April 20.
Probably one of the fastest growing categories, 23 states as well as Washington D.C. now allow medical use of marijuana with a prescription. So if you live in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island,Vermont or Washington and have a medical condition cannabis can help heal (according to your states definitions), time to make that doctor's appointment.
In Alabama, cannabis is illegal for medical use except in the case of Carly's Law, a medical use clause specifically for the treatment of catastrophic seizures. But that's it. If it isn't catastrophic, its not happening. Yeah, I didn't say those medical marijuana prescriptions were easy to get. In fact each state has its own coverage criteria.
In California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington weed is straight up and down decriminalized. Meaning, you don't go to jail for possession of marijuana. You might get a fine or told to “put that away” but you aren't getting a criminal record. No, that does not mean you can grow it, sell it or traffic it.
Decriminalized Curve Balls - But don't read decriminalized and presume everything is simple and straight forward. Be aware that in Nebraska weed is decriminalized for the first offense only and in North Carolina only if its less than half an ounce. In Maine they have medical marijuana, and they have a hemp industry but be careful getting caught in possession of recreational weed. The first time you'll probably just get a fine but if its over 2.5 ounces, you are facing jail time. But wait, if you are in Portland, that decriminalized status is rendered null and void by the fact they passed 'legal for recreational use' a couple of years back. I know, confusing much?
Bud on the Ballot 2016
Hoping to pass medical use this year are the states of Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Cannabis measures already tried and failed this year in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, and Utah. A bill to legalize for both medical and recreational use failed on the house floor in Wyoming and Virginia failed to pass their attempt at decriminalization. If at first you don't succeed...
Last to Enlightenment
If you like weed, you may not want to live in the places listed under this heading. These are the states considered by most expert stoners to be the least likely to pass laws legalizing, regulating, or granting access to cannabis. You know, based on how long it took them to get rid of other outdated laws (or the fact that they still have them). Yup, these are the folks who won't care if the Feds say weed is decriminalized, they still ain't gonna stand for none of that leaf smokin' nonsense. So, if you live in Arkansas, Idaho, North Dakota, or South Dakota my sincere condolences.
You folks in Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia might not want to get your hopes up either. Remember, state borders are not electrified...yet.
So there you have it, the state of weed in America today. Maybe some of you are surprised at how far cannabis laws have come. Maybe you are upset at how far they have to go. Either way, you now have enough information for a well planned road trip that includes edibles and dispensary tours rather than scary backwoods drug enforcement agents and weed penalties that belong in the realm of the Spanish Inquisition. If weed is on the ballot in your state this November, don't forget to vote.