Weed is so normalized in America that it’s hardly cool anymore. Once Martha Stewart, Elon Musk, and your aunt—not even the eccentric one—started talking about marijuana like it was ibuprofen, it felt like it lost its gloried grunge. Long gone are the days of dirty bongs, replaced by high-brow smoking accessories and a trove of luxe edibles. Oh, and hundred-thousand-dollar bongs that are coveted like art, because they are art. The industry is dabbling in non-alcoholic THC beverages, and the country’s first-ever weed restaurant, where you can smoke and dine in public without feeling anything more than your regular dose of paranoia, opened in West Hollywood.
The 18 States (plus D.C.) with Legal Recreational Weed
While he was in his Attorney General post, Jeff Sessions—Remember him? The flaming racist who thinks “good people don’t smoke marijuana?”—rescinded an Obama-era memo that protected states where marijuana was legal from most federal prosecution. That about summed up the lack of forward movement during the Trump years. (Trump did, it should be noted, think marijuana makes people “lose IQ points,” a fact we present without comment.) But more and more politicians on both sides of the aisle are in favor of decriminalization. In December, the House passed the MORE Act, which would decriminalize marijuana nationally, lead to expunged records for federal cannabis offenses, and set aside money for underrepresented communities in cannabis industry. It was welcomed by a slim Democratic majority when it hit the Senate, where it’s in committee.
Laws about possession, distribution, personal cultivation, and concentrates differ across state lines. NORML, a nonprofit group that advocates for marijuana reform, has a more detailed, state-by-state rundown. Nor do all of these states have a retail infrastructure set up yet, so it might be impossible to pop into a dispensary and stock up on gummies—for now.
Marijuana legalization is spreading around the US.
See all the states where marijuana is legal:
Three states—New Mexico, Virginia, and South Dakota—passed legalization in recent months, and the laws took effect in late June and early July.
Virginia legalized cannabis through its legislature in April. The law took effect on July 1, though marijuana sales won’t begin in the state until 2024. On June 18, the Connecticut legislature legalized cannabis for adults 21 and over.
Many states have made cannabis legal for medical use. Starting with the states of Washington and Colorado in 2012, others have followed to legalize it for recreation as well as health.
Many of these states also allow commercial cultivation of cannabis. Commercial growers are highly regulated and subject to state taxes. Each has its own set of laws and regulations.
Where It’s Legal to Grow Cannabis
In all, 12 states and Washington, D.C., have fully legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use. These include Alaska, California and Colorado as well as Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Illinois recently joined this growing group, which also includes Michigan, Nevada and the New England states of Maine and Massachusetts.
Another cold state on the other side of the continent, Vermont, takes the prize for the fewest legal pot plants, however. If you live there, you are permitted to grow just two “mature” plants, although four “immature” plants are permitted.
Medical Use Only States
Cannabis is easy to grow, so really, you could grow it in any state of the union at the right time of the year. But to grow it legally? That’s where the complexity comes in.