Marijuana, as known as weed, pot, bud, ganja, Mary Jane and several other slang terms, is a greenish-gray mixture of dried Cannabis flowers. Cannabis is a psychoactive drug that can be used for recreational or medicinal purposes. Twenty years ago, marijuana was illegal in all 50 states; however, today, 33 states have legislation allowing for marijuana use in some form.
In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, legalizing medical marijuana. California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. Within the following four years, several other states followed by passing their own medical marijuana legislation, including Alaska, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Washington, Maine, Colorado, Hawaii, and Nevada. Since then, more states have gradually voted to pass legislation allowing for medical marijuana use.
In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Since then, nine states and the District of Columbia have followed by legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
The states where recreational and medical marijuana are legal are:
- District of Columbia
While recreational marijuana is legal in Vermont and Washington D.C., both jurisdictions have barred sales for recreation purposes but allow possessing and growing.
The following 22 states have legalized medical marijuana only:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
Each state has strict regulations regarding their marijuana laws for both medical and recreational use. Medical marijuana users must see a marijuana doctor to be approved for and obtain a medical marijuana card, which requires follow-up appointments and annual renewal. One must be at least 21 years old to purchase recreational marijuana. Most states require that marijuana only be sold from dispensaries, which are heavily regulated. The amount of marijuana that one can buy, possess and grow is also restricted and varies by state. For example, California allows users to buy up to eight grams of concentrates and can have no more than six marijuana plants.
Because marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, it is automatically illegal in all states unless legislation has previously passed.