How to Understand Weed’s Legal Status in Your State

In recent years, public opinion on the legality of marijuana has shifted drastically. According to, over sixty percent of Americans are now supportive of marijuana legalization, the highest amount on record. Furthermore, roughly three-quarters of Americans support lessening legal ramifications for marijuana possession by making a fine the most severe outcome of such a minor offense. This major attitude shift toward a more positive outlook on cannabis use has been reflected in state policies as well, with many states opting for full legalization, medical marijuana certification, and decriminalization. Other locations still remain skeptical and simply maintain marijuana’s illegal status. Compounds derived from the complex marijuana plant further complicate matters, as less psychoactive forms of the drug, such as CBD and delta 8, have varying legality depending on which state in the U.S you find yourself in.


Varieties of Legal Status


Considering that there are many possible legal classifications that exist in relation to marijuana and compounds derived from the plant, here is a quick list of what each classification means to help clarify any confusion. In order to find a convenient representation of which locations condone marijuana use, or maintain it as an illegal substance, take a look at this listing of cannabis laws state by state.


1.) Recreational  Legality – This classification exists in places like California, Alaska, and Washington, to name a few, and they have the most lax outlook on marijuana. While regulations may vary slightly from state to state, this classification allows for possession of sizable amounts of marijuana, as well as the recreational use of the plant.


2.) Medical Legality – The medicinal marijuana classification requires that those who use marijuana carry a card that is provided by a medical professional. Medical marijuana cards are obtained by individuals when they have an illness or condition that can be treated with marijuana. Access to weed dispensaries is typically contingent on the possession of said medical marijuana card, as this document is also required to avoid persecution for possession or use in areas where weed is not fully decriminalized.


3.) Decriminalization –  When weed is decriminalized in a state, it indicates that punishments for possession and use of marijuana are greatly reduced, if not entirely eliminated, as long as the amount held does not exceed the state-sanctioned limitation. In locations where weed is decriminalized, open sale in public places is typically not allowed, and places like weed dispensaries are lacking.


4.) Legal CBD and low THC products – This classification applies only to products derived from marijuana which isolate specific compounds, such as CBD or Delta 8, and does not sanction marijuana use as it exists in nature. Many can benefit from the less psychoactive compounds found within marijuana, and as a result, many states that are typically seen as conservative, such as Georgia, Alabama, and Oklahoma, to name only a few, have allowed these compounds to be sold legally.


5.) Full illegality – In spite of growing public support, still many states maintain the criminal nature of marijuana possession and use, and the violation of these laws still holds serious sentences. Locations like Idaho, Kansas, and South Dakota, among others, all maintain their stance that possession and use of marijuana is a criminal offense.




Public opinion is shifting rapidly toward a more positive outlook on marijuana, and the plant’s growing legal status is a great representation of this perceptual shift. Still, just as many individuals still have their reservations about cannabis, many states hold differing levels of legality for the plant and compounds derived from it. Be sure to fully understand your state’s stance on marijuana so you can act responsibly in accordance with local regulations.

Misty Jhones
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