State Marijuana Laws

All drug-related offenses in the United States are handled by the Controlled Substances Act. The Controlled Substances Act does not define any difference between marijuana usage for recreational or medical use. All those within the nation’s borders will be charged with offenses but will vary according to cultivation offenses, possession offenses, and distribution offenses. The severity of an offense will be determined through the amount of marijuana at the time of the charge.

Federal law requires that marijuana offenses be treated equally to cocaine, heroin, or any other controlled substance offenses. Each controlled substance, including marijuana, is classified through the government according to its addictive qualities. Marijuana currently is classified as a Schedule I drug and is thus deemed very addictive and without medical worth.

The Real Prohibition – The Illegality of Marijuana

The prohibition became effective in 1920 through the Eighteenth Amendment, outlawing alcohol within the United States. Prohibition lasted for thirteen (13) years up until the enactment of the Twenty-First Amendment. During this time, the sale of alcohol decreased; however, the consumption of the substance did not. There were black-markets created and “moonshiners” became outlaws. Riots, massacres and crime revolved, in many instances, around the sale or consumption of alcohol. Many individuals were and are still against marihuana. Much of this has to do with the classification of the drug, whereas alcohol has not been legalized for certain individuals. Marihuana use was first outlawed in 1915. The Federal government took its first step to criminalizing or controlling the use of the drug through the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. The Federal Government later went on to classify and completely outlaw the use, possession and cultivation of the drug by placing it as a banned controlled substance.

Washington and Colorado were the first to legalize the use and possession of the drug statewide, which has created a mass-debate on how other states, municipalities, and law enforcement officials deal with the creation of such legalization laws.

New Movement Toward Marijuana Legalization/Decriminalization

There is a difference between legalization and decriminalization. Legalization allows for now charges to be brought forth because the “act” inflicted or intended by an individual does not violate the law of the state or local municipality. Decriminalization, on the other hand, only hinders the available criminal punishment imposed, meaning that criminal charges are not filed against an individual. Rather, in those areas where marihuana is decriminalized, a civil infraction is generally issued, which in-turn preserves an individual’s criminal record.

In Michigan, for example, there are multiple areas where marijuana is decriminalized and no longer prosecuted through criminal charges; however, it is imperative to know the law in those areas because violation of the sometimes strict requirements will and can lead to criminal charges.

Medical Marijuana Use

Under federal law physician may not “prescribe” the use of marijuana to a patient for medical purposes. However physician may “recommend” that a patient use marijuana for treatment, which is covered under the Constitution’s First Amendment. Because using marijuana is illegal at a federal level, the Drug Enforcement Administration enforces usage regulations for marijuana caregivers and patients. This administration ensures that only certain amounts of marijuana are possessed at one time and only a certain number of mature plants are possessed at one time.

Only seventeen states allow marijuana for medical purposes; however the number of mature plants and the amount an individual may possess depends on state laws. States with medical marijuana laws include Washington, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Jersey. States with decriminalizing marijuana laws include Minnesota, Nebraska, Mississippi, Ohio, North Carolina, New York, and Massachusetts. States that have both medical and decriminalizing laws include Alaska, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, and Maine.

Charges

Violators will be charged with marijuana offenses if amount regulations are broken, despite having a physician’s recommendation. Marijuana offenses can earn fines between one hundred dollars and hundreds of thousands of dollars and imprisonments between a few months and life of prison. Probation, mandatory substance treatment, and community service may also be included in sentencing.

The federal government has determined that marijuana for medical reasons cannot be used as a defense in court. Whenever an individual violates marijuana laws, he or she will be charged, according to federal law, regardless of physician permission. There are currently two forms of sentencing and are based on the 1986 drug bill and the 1987 sentencing commission. These regulations require that prior marijuana offenses be taken into account in a current marijuana offense. Violators will also have their charges increased if sales were to a minor or on school property.

Federal versus State

In 2005 the Supreme Court stated that the federal government does not view marijuana as a medicine. This means that the federal government may arrest an individual even if he or she resides in a legal state and is within his or her amount requirements. This is in conflict with the seventeen states that allow marijuana for medical purposes. However federal law does not require these states to prosecute certified users. The state law versus federal law conflict is currently being resolved by the Food and Drug Administration and Congress.


Marijuana State Laws

Alabama Marijuana Laws

Each state has different laws in regards to marijuana possession, trafficking, and sale. Some states allow the possession of marijuana for medical purposes while others do not. Alabama does not…

Alaska Marijuana Laws

To most Americans in the lower 48, Alaska seems like such a remote place. It is after all our largest state by land mass with some towns that can only…

Arizona Marijuana Laws

Arizona Laws on Marijuana The state of Arizona does not allow any legal possession of marijuana under any circumstance. This includes for medical purposes or personal purposes. Also any possessed…

Arkansas Marijuana Laws

Marijuana Laws in Arkansas There are states which have a lenient approach to marijuana use and possession and then there are other states that are much more strident. Arkansas falls…

California Marijuana Laws

Possessing marijuana is at times legal in the state of California. However only under specific circumstances may individuals legally cultivate plants and under specific guidelines. Only those who have been…

Colorado Marijuana Laws

Decriminalization is the buzz word most often attached to marijuana laws. Decriminalizing marijuana possession really means treating the offense like a petty crime or traffic incident. The state of Colorado…

Connecticut Marijuana Laws

Connecticut Laws regarding Marijuana Unlike various other states, the state of Connecticut does not allow any legal form of possession, whether medical or not. However according to recent politics, marijuana…

DC Marijuana Laws

D.C. Laws Regarding Marijuana All fifty states have different laws in relation to what is considered illegal in terms of marijuana possession. The District of Columbia allows the possession of…

Delaware Marijuana Laws

When it comes to enacting strict marijuana laws, size doesn’t matter. One of our smaller states, Delaware, actually has some of the harshest marijuana laws on the books. Part of…

Florida Marijuana Laws

Because of its proximity to so many coastlines, it’s no secret that Florida has become a major hub for drug traffickers. This means that all kinds of narcotics make their…

Georgia Marijuana Laws

With 50 states in the union, one state will have the distinction of having the toughest marijuana laws on the books. Georgia marijuana laws would be a close contender for…

Hawaii Marijuana Laws

Unlike most other states, Hawaii has relatively lesser punishments for marijuana offenses than other states. This state also has the fewest number of marijuana arrests annually. Marijuana is legal for…

Idaho Marijuana Laws

Every state has the right to create their own laws based on the needs of the people. Sometimes these laws are built upon the foundation of preexisting federal laws. At…

Indiana Marijuana Laws

The state of Indiana has more severe penalties for repeated marijuana offenses. Because of this, first-time offenders often have lighter sentences with lesser fines. Indiana does not allow marijuana for…

Iowa Marijuana Laws

It is safe to say that states that provide medical marijuana laws for its residents are on the pathway towards the overall decriminalization of pot. Although a law to completely…

Kansas Marijuana Laws

If there is one thing you can count on seeing during a visit to Kansas is plenty of farmland. They are known the world over for their abundant corn harvests…

Kentucky Marijuana Laws

Kentucky Laws regarding Marijuana In Kentucky, individuals are prosecuted for marijuana possession, sale, and cultivation. Repeated offenders and high amounts of marijuana can result in increased charges. Distributing, possessing, or…

Louisiana Marijuana Laws

If you’ve ever visited Bourbon Street in New Orleans or seen any videos of a Mardi Gras party there you would assume anything goes. On some level that is true….

Maine Marijuana Laws

Maine Laws  – Marijuana Maine is one of seventeen states that allows marijuana to be possessed for medical purposes. Maine citizens must first apply for the treatment according to a…

Maryland Marijuana Laws

The U.S. Constitution clearly states that any law which isn’t created by the federal government can be legislated by the individual states. This article comes in direct conflict with the…

Michigan Marijuana Laws

Michigan Laws on Marijuana In 2008 marijuana was legalized in the state of Michigan for medical purposes. Those permitted to possess marijuana must first apply through a physician’s recommendation. All…

Minnesota Marijuana Laws

Minnesota Laws All those possessing or cultivating marijuana under any circumstance will be prosecuted in the state of Minnesota, whether or not this be for personal or medical use. Marijuana…

Mississippi Marijuana Laws

Mississippi Laws on Marijuana There is currently no law legalizing marijuana possession–for either medical or personal use–in the state of Mississippi. All those in possession or found selling or trafficking…

Missouri Marijuana Laws

Marijuana Laws in Missouri The results of the Missouri marijuana laws are reflected in the amount of arrests every year in the state. The DEA estimates that upwards of 18,000…

Montana Marijuana Laws

Montana Laws about Marijuana The state of Montana currently has legalized marijuana for medical purposes. The law, however, does restrict the number of plants an individual may possess at one…

Nevada Marijuana Laws

Nevada Laws regarding Marijuana The state of Nevada currently gives more severe punishments for those guilty of cultivating, selling, distributing marijuana than those who are solely in the possession of…

New Hampshire Marijuana Laws

New Hampshire Law regarding Marijuana Unlike most other states, New Hampshire possession laws are less severe and are greatly different from trafficking, selling, and cultivating laws. Possession laws are more…

New Jersey Marijuana Laws

Marijuana Laws in New Jersey New Jersey marijuana laws break down into three distinct categories: possession, cultivation and sale. There is even a separate level of punishment for selling pot…

New Mexico Marijuana Laws

New Mexico Laws on Marijuana New Mexico is one of seventeen states that allows the legal possession of marijuana for medical purposes. Under the 2007 Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use…

New York Marijuana Laws

New York Marijuana Law Details Many states have a lenient attitude towards the possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use. That amount is usually less than an…

North Carolina Marijuana Laws

North Carolina Marijuana Laws Details Like other states, North Carolina marijuana laws come down hard on the sellers, but first time possession users could catch a break depending on the…

North Dakota Marijuana Laws

North Dakota Law – Marijuana The state of North Dakota currently does not have any laws legalizing marijuana for medical or personal use. This includes cultivating, possessing, and using marijuana…

Ohio Marijuana Laws

Ohio Marijuana Laws Details It would stand to reason that states which have adopted medical marijuana laws would have a more lenient attitude when it comes to possession charges. Ohio…

Oklahoma Marijuana Laws

Oklahoma Law on Marijuana The state of Oklahoma has some of the most strict marijuana laws in the country. What would be minimal charges in one state will most often…

Oregon Marijuana Laws

Oregon Marijuana Law Details Before marijuana could ever become legalized, it first has to be accepted as being either a benefit to medical patients or not harmful to everyone else….

Pennsylvania Marijuana Laws

Pennsylvania Marijuana Law Details In Pennsylvania, there are no laws on the books for medical marijuana. That means anyone caught with any amount of marijuana in the state is considered…

Rhode Island Marijuana Laws

Marijuana Laws in Rhode Island Like most states, Rhode Island has not decriminalized marijuana; however, Rhode Island was the 11th U.S. state to allow the use of marijuana for medicinal…

South Dakota Marijuana Laws

Despite current political works, the state of South Dakota does not have any laws legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. This means that all those found in the possession, the cultivation,…

Tennessee Marijuana Laws

In the classic film “Cool Hand Luke,” the prison warden bemoaned the fact that, “Some men you just can’t reach.” He was referring to Luke who never stopped breaking the…

Texas Marijuana Laws

The state of Texas has rather high marijuana penalties. However this state does not have legal marijuana usage laws for medical use. This means that under Texas law any individual…

Utah Marijuana Laws

In the recent midterm elections, Arizona joined 14 other states in legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. Utah marijuana laws still side with the majority of states by prohibiting the medical…

Vermont Marijuana Laws

Many states have laws that stand for all marijuana offenders. However Vermont has different laws for those charged on first offenses. Vermont is one of the few states that allows…

Virginia Marijuana Laws

The state of Virginia currently does not allow marijuana possession or usage for legal medical purposes. Any individual acting under medical advisory will be punished according to state law. Virginia…

Washington Marijuana Laws

In 1998, Washington state residents approved Measure 692 which allowed for the medical use of marijuana. Under this provision, patients who are suffering from illnesses such as AIDS, glaucoma, MS,…

West Virginia Marijuana Laws

When it comes to growing marijuana, illegal farmers have two options: plant indoors or outdoors. In West Virginia, the majority of the estimated 86,000 pounds of pot that is grown…

Wisconsin Marijuana Laws

The state of Wisconsin does not legally allow marijuana for any purpose, including medical treatment. All those in possession, selling, or cultivation of marijuana will be charged with a fine,…

Wyoming Marijuana Laws

There are currently no laws in regards to allowing marijuana possession for medical purposes in Wyoming. Though the state of Wyoming has attempted to make marijuana legal for medical necessities,…