Nearly half of these United States of America have legal medicinal marijuana, while another four states have marijuana legal recreationally, too.
The Grand Canyon State is the only one in the U.S. where any amount of marijuana a person is busted with results in a felony.
Every year, around 22,000 people are arrested in Arizona for marijuana-related reasons, with 92% of those arrests solely for possession.
In Arizona, possession of under two pounds is a Class 6 felony and results in an automatic sentence of four months to two years in jail along with a minimum fine of $1,000.
Getting caught with any amount for distribution results in a minimum of one year in jail, plus a $150,000 fine if you're convicted of possession on top of that.
Sadly, even when a politician tries to insert some common sense into Arizona's marijuana laws, it doesn't get far.
Recently, John Fillmore, a first-term Republican lawmaker introduced House Bill 2228, which would reduce marijuana possession to a non-criminal petty offense with no more than a $100 fine attached. The bill was met by “a lot of smiles and laughs” according to Fillmore, and didn't even receive a legislative hearing.
Like many things having to do with The Sunshine State since the dawn of the 21st century, Florida's marijuana penalties are very scary.
According to a 2009 analysis by former NORML Director Jon Gettman, no state in this country punishes people more severely for minor marijuana offenses than Florida.
For example, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana could get a person a $5,000 fine and a maximum of five years in prison.
Then there's the fact that selling within 1,000 feet of “a school, college, park, or other specified areas” can result in a $10,000 fine and a maximum of 15 years in prison in Florida. Selling marijuana near a college could get someone 15 years? Think about that.
Also worth noting, Florida is the only state other than Illinois that doesn't report their annual marijuana arrest data to FBI statisticians.
The Bayou State's negative reputation concerning marijuana mainly has to do with the fact that 91% of annual marijuana arrests are for simple possession. But there's plenty more.
Distribution or cultivation of marijuana plants in Louisiana carries a mandatory five year sentence with a maximum of 30 years. That means a person could potentially get 30 years in Louisiana prison and a $50,000 fine for one plant.
Then there's the case of Cornell Hood II, who received life in prison for possession of less than two pounds of marijuana. It was his fourth offense, but none of the previous three resulted in a single day in jail.
Like Arizona, there seems to be no political means to create common sense marijuana laws in Louisiana. In the spring of 2014, two separate Senate Committees killed bills that would have reduced possession penalties and would have set up laws regarding medical marijuana in Louisiana.
For marijuana users, the Sooner State is right out of a horror film.
Sounds a bit dramatic? You won't think that after reading about House Bill 1798 and the stories of Patricia Spottedcow, Jimmy Montgomery, and Will Foster.
House Bill 1798 passed in Oklahoma by a vote of 119-20; it took effect on November 1, 2011. The bill enhanced the sentences for hash manufacturing to a two-year minimum and a maximum of life in prison. In reality, this was an extension of Oklahoma's already draconian punishments for marijuana.
Patricia Spottedcow was a 25-year-old mother of four when she was sentenced to 12 years in prison for selling $39 worth of marijuana to an undercover informant. Despite the massive negative attention the case received, the judge in the case has not reconsidered reducing her sentence.
Jimmy Montgomery is a paraplegic who received life in prison (eventually reduced to 10 years) for possession of two ounces of marijuana in his wheelchair. Montgomery was later granted early release by medical parole, but ended up losing a leg due to an ulcerated bed sore that developed while he was in prison.
Will Foster is a rheumatoid arthritis patient who was convicted of marijuana cultivation and received a sentence of 93 years in prison; it was later reduced to 20 years. After being paroled, Foster moved to California and registered as a medical marijuana patient. Then in 2009, Oklahoma decided they didn't like this and extradited Foster back to serve additional prison time.
Here's a fun stat: half of all annual arrests in the Lone Star State are marijuana related. Specifically, nearly all marijuana arrests in Texas during 2009 were for possession only.
A possession charge in Texas, even first offense, could carry a six-month jail sentence and $2,000 fine.
As for distribution, less than seven grams (¼ oz.) could get someone six months in jail and a $2,000 fine in Texas. And that penalty is for distribution without compensation. If it's distribution of less than ¼ ounce of marijuana with compensation, the penalties double.
And like any state this tough on marijuana, alternative solutions aren't in the cards.
Harold Dutton, a Houston Democrat, introduced House Bill 458 in 2011. The bill was designed to reduce penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana to a misdemeanor with no criminal record and a maximum fine of $500.
Predictably, the bill was never even considered for a vote despite 2,500 Texans in favor of the bill contacting their House members to voice their support.