What States Is Cannabis Legal?

Keep up with the ever-changing legal landscape of cannabis with this state-by-state guide to cannabis legality.

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Introduction

In the United States, the use and possession of cannabis is illegal under federal law for any purpose, by way of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. However, a growing number of states, territories, and the District of Columbia have enacted more relaxed laws regarding cannabis.

The History of Cannabis in the United States

The history of cannabis in the United States can be traced back to the early settlers who brought the plant with them from Europe. Cannabis was first introduced to the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the mid-1600s. It wasn’t until the early 1800s that cannabis began to be used for recreational purposes in the United States.

Cannabis was widely used during the 19th century for a variety of medical purposes. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that its use began to be demonized by lawmakers and members of law enforcement. In 1937, Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act, which effectively criminalized cannabis throughout the United States.

Cannabis remained illegal at the federal level for nearly a century until December 2018, when Congress passed the Farm Bill and legalized hemp. This opened up a new era of opportunity for the cannabis industry, and dozens of states have since enacted their own laws legalizing some form of cannabis use.

As of 2019, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, while 10 states have legalized it for recreational use. The legal status of cannabis varies from state to state, and it is important to be aware of the laws in your area before using the drug. In this article, we will take a look at the current legal status of cannabis in the United States.

Federal Law

Under federal law, it is illegal to possess, use, buy, sell, or cultivate cannabis in the United States. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1990 classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug, which means that the federal government views it as having a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use.

However, a number of states have legalized cannabis for medicinal or recreational use. While state laws are not preempted by federal law, federal enforcement agents have discretion to prioritize resources as they see fit. This means that, in practice, federal enforcement agents generally do not target individual cannabis users in states where it is legal.

The current administration has indicated that it may crack down on states that have legalized cannabis, but so far this has not happened on a large scale. In January 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo rescinding the Obama-era policy of non-interference with state cannabis laws (the so-called “Cole memo”), but this does not appear to have had a significant impact on federal enforcement activity.

State Laws

The current legal status of cannabis in the United States is a patchwork of state and federal laws. As of this writing, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical use, and 10 states have legalized it for recreational use.

The federal government, however, still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug, which means it considers it to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. This conflict between state and federal law creates a number of challenges for businesses operating in the cannabis industry, as well as for consumers who are trying to navigate the complex landscape of laws and regulations.

Here is a brief overview of the current legal status of cannabis in the United States:

Federal law: Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act. This means that it is illegal to grow, sell, or possess cannabis in any form.

State laws: 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical use, and 10 states have legalized it for recreational use. Each state has its own laws and regulations governing the cultivation, sale, and possession of cannabis.

Local laws: In addition to state and federal laws, many localities have their own laws governing cannabis. It’s important to be aware of these laws before buying or using cannabis in any form.

The Future of Cannabis in the United States

The United States is in the midst of a major shift when it comes to its stance on cannabis. For years, the substance was criminalized and demonized, but that is changing rapidly. Today, an increasing number of states have legalized cannabis for medicinal and/or recreational purposes, and public opinion has shifted markedly in favor of legalization. The question now is not whether cannabis will be legalized nationwide, but when.

It’s important to remember that while public opinion has shifted and more states are legalizing cannabis, it is still technically illegal on the federal level. This creates a number of complications, particularly for businesses operating in the legal cannabis industry. Because of this, many believe that true nationwide legalization is still some way off.

However, there are also reasons to be optimistic about the future of cannabis in the United States. The election of pro-legalization candidate Joe Biden as president in 2020 was a major step forward, and his administration has signaled its support for legalization at the federal level. In addition, more and more states are moving towards legalization every year. It seems inevitable at this point that cannabis will be completely legal in the United States sooner rather than later.

Conclusion

Now that we have reviewed what states is cannabis legal, we can conclude that there are a variety of states in which it is legal to possess and consume marijuana. While the laws vary from state to state, overall, it appears that the majority of states have legalized some form of cannabis use.

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