What “Legal” Means From State To State

“Legal” doesn’t always mean “legal” when it comes to cannabis laws and regulations. In one state recreational cannabis might be completely legal, and in another, it might only be allowed with a doctor’s recommendation or prescription. In some states, it may be legal to possess a certain amount, and in others, the legality may be unclear. It’s easy enough to know what’s legal and what is not in your own jurisdiction, but when traveling or visiting friends or shipping across state lines, it can get a little complicated, not only knowing where cannabis is allowed but in what capacity. We will try to break it down as simply as we can here so that you know exactly what you need to know.
Where is it Totally Illegal?
In many states, both medicinal and recreational are simply not allowed at all. In some of these, there are tight restrictions even on non-psychoactive CBD oil. Do not risk carrying any cannabis across state lines into the following states:
  • Wyoming
  • Wisconsin
  • Virginia
  • Texas
  • Tennessee
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • Kentucky
  • Kansas
  • Iowa
  • Indiana
  • Idaho
  • Georgia
  • Alabama
The seriousness of the prohibition varies from state to state here. Alabama may be the strictest law on this list. The first offense in Alabama for any possession is a misdemeanor and the second is a felony. In other states, you may see cannabis marketing for CBD oil with low THC content. In Georgia, CBD oil must be less than five percent THC.
The law can also vary from county to county and city to city. In Atlanta, marijuana is decriminalized, but the only other city in Georgia where this is the case is Savannah.
Where is it Totally Legal?
In a number of states, it is very hard to get into trouble over cannabis. These states include the following:
  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Vermont (note: in Vermont, cannabis use is completely legal but commercial sales are not)
  • Washington
  • Alaska is one of the most permissive states on this list, allowing up to twelve plants per household for cannabis extraction and farming. There are few restrictions on dispensary operations outside of typical business regulation in Alaska.
Vermont allows users to transport cannabis but commercial sales are restricted, meaning that someone could make their own cannabis products in the state, but pursuing cannabis licensing for sales would be criminal.
In all of these states there are certain restrictions on how many plants people are allowed to own if they are doing their own cannabis extraction, but no real laws regarding the use of cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes.
There are restrictions on how much people may be allowed to buy. Even in Colorado, there are limits on how much a visitor is allowed to buy. This is to ensure that people are not buying cannabis in Colorado to sell in states where it is not legal.
Medicinal Use Only
In many states, there are whole industries built around cannabis consulting, sales, extraction and so on, but cannabis compliance and inspections will ensure that only medicinal users are allowed to indulge in these products. In these states, they are generally treated like essentially any prescription medicine. It will be totally legal for those medically permitted, but generally illegal for anyone else to use. Laws on sale and transport will vary from state to state, but there are few restrictions on prescription cannabis products in the following states:
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico (recreational use decriminalized in Albuquerque)
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah
  • West Virginia
  • Decriminalized
In all other states, cannabis is not exactly legal but “decriminalized” to some extent or another. What this means is that you can still get in trouble for holding cannabis products, but generally in conjunction with something else. In any decriminalized state, you can generally carry an ounce, or more depending on the state, but any more than a certain amount may result in trafficking or intent to distribute charges. Cannabis may also come into play if an arresting officer needs to make a case for probable cause. In these states, the best bet is to not buy or carry more than you might want to have for personal use.
Stay Up to Date
Laws relating to cannabis legalization seem to change every day, so do not refer to the above information as any sort of set-in-stone Bible on all things cannabis. If you are looking at a cannabis facility design, then you are probably already talking to a legal team in order to make sure that you are not falling into that gray area of being “sorta-legal.” But even if you are just taking a road trip through any given state you will want to make sure that your information is totally up to date.
The good news is that by a large, cannabis laws tend to get more permissive from year to year rather than less permissive. All the same, just because cannabis products were legal or decriminalized in this state or that state as of the time of this writing, that is no guarantee that the same will be true when you read this. You will also want to make sure that you know exactly how much cannabis you are allowed to carry or transport.
Cannabis law can be complicated. A single ounce can make the difference between jail time or having no charges brought up against you at all. If you are planning on doing business in your state, seeking a prescription or just looking to carry a little bit of cannabis for personal use, you will want to make sure that you know exactly what the laws are in any state that you are in.
Younger readers may scarcely remember a time when cannabis was essentially completely illegal in every single state. The industry has grown up fast, but it is still quite young, and its legal standing stands precariously between two very different political attitudes towards the business. The above information should serve as a handy guide for quick reference, but you will want to stay up to date. Feel free to contact us today if you would like more information.


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