Where is Weed Legal?
Here’s a rundown of where weed is legal for recreational and medical use (and where it isn’t).
States that legalized weed during and after the November 2020 election
In addition to New York, which legalized cannabis via the legislative process in March 2021, five states had marijuana measures on the ballot in the 2020 election—and all five approved weed by a solid margin, though only one of those is currently offering recreational sales.
- Arizona: Prop 207 legalized marijuana growth, possession, and sales for those over 21. It will also expunge some past marijuana-related criminal offenses. Arizonans were allowed to grow and possess limited amounts of weed after Nov. 30, 2020, and the state recently began legal sales ahead of schedule.
- Mississippi: Initiative 65 launches a medical marijuana program in Mississippi for 22 health conditions. The law takes effect in August 2021.
- Montana: While Montana already allowed medical marijuana, Initiative 190 legalized possession, recreational use, and sales to adults over 21. It also permits those convicted of weed-related crimes to apply for resentencing or expungement. Most of the measure will take effect on Oct. 1, 2021.
- New Jersey: Question 1 legalized recreational weed for adults 21 and older, and New Jersey’s existing medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed to sell to the general public as soon as lawmakers pass a bill covering regulations. Implementation wasn’t immediate, but state senators promised to move quickly. Here’s an update on what the law does and doesn’t cover, as of March 2021.
- New York: In contrast to the other states to recently legalize cannabis, New York went the legislative route rather than appealing to voters, hammering out new laws that dictate how cannabis will be taxed, where that revenue will go, and how past criminal offenses will be handled. While it will take some time for the state to figure out how to administer the new laws, upon the bill’s signing it became legal for New York residents to possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis for personal use.
- South Dakota: South Dakota passed two ballot measures—one establishing a medical marijuana program and the other legalizing weed possession, use, transport, and distribution for all adults. The latter, Amendment A, was to take effect on July 1, 2021, but the state legislature is currently working to counteract the will of the voters, with one judge already having declared the amendment invalid (a decision legal cannabis advocates have appealed with the state Supreme Court) and delay the implementation of the medical cannabis program. Regardless measure does not permit people to grow weed at home if there is a dispensary in their district.
States that have legalized recreational marijuana
In 16 states, including 2020 and 2021’s new additions, weed is treated like alcohol—it’s legal for adults (21 and over) to purchase and is regulated and taxed by the government. The specifics of what you can purchase and possess (and where) vary a bit by state. These states also have medical marijuana.
- New Jersey
- New York
- South Dakota
Recreational weed is also legal in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Areas that have legal weed but no sales
In the District of Columbia, it’s legal to possess and grow limited amounts of weed, but there are no commercial sales outside of medical marijuana from a limited number of licensed dispensaries.
States that have medical cannabis laws
A number of states have legalized medical marijuana but do not allow broader recreational use.
- New Hampshire*
- New Mexico*
- North Dakota*
- Puerto Rico
- Rhode Island*
- West Virginia
*According to the Marijuana Policy Project, these states have also decriminalized marijuana, reducing or removing jail time for possession of limited amounts of weed.