Where is cannabis legal?


January 17, 2020


(Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)

Each year that goes by, there seems to be a shift in cannabis legalization across the states. With a rapidly growing market and even more politicians bowing to cannabis reform, it can get a bit confusing parsing out state and federal nuances when it comes to cannabis law.

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To make things a little easier, check out the guide below to see which states have legalized adult-use and medical cannabis, which ones only allow medical, and which states are still fighting for their right to legalize.

Map of cannabis laws by state

Click to enlarge. (Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)

States where adult-use cannabis is legal

As of January 2020, cannabis is legal for adult use in 11 states and Washington, DC. In most cases, states where cannabis is legal for adult use started off with laws making medical marijuana available to patients looking to treat a variety of conditions. The number of adult-use marijuana states in the US continues to grow as support for cannabis legalization picks up steam among voters.

To keep up on all the latest information about legalization efforts across the nation and states where pot is legal, follow Leafly’s news coverage.

Here are the states with adult-use cannabis.

States with medical marijuana only

While consumers in 11 states and Washington, DC have access to adult-use cannabis through licensed dispensaries, can legally homegrow, or some combination of the two, medical marijuana states are more prevalent across the US. At present, there are 33 states where medical marijuana is legal.

Typically, medical marijuana states require patients to sign up for a card or other form of identification that allows them to purchase medical marijuana at a dispensary or other approved retail location. In other states, the cannabis products available to patients are limited to a very narrow band of CBD products, often required to be derived from hemp.

Medical marijuana programs also take time to get going. In numerous states where medical cannabis is technically legal, patients are still waiting for dispensaries to open where they can legally purchase cannabis.

* State currently has regulations in place for qualifying patients to possess and consume cannabis, but no state-licensed dispensaries or other facilities have been made available to purchase product from.

** State has medical program pending in various stages: not yet accepting patient applications, no functional dispensaries available, etc. See provided links above for state-specific information.

States where marijuana is illegal

Despite the efforts of activists and advocates across the country, in four US states, cannabis remains entirely illegal for either recreational or medicinal use. This also remains the case under US federal law. Penalties for cannabis possession in these states can be severe, ranging from fines to jail time.

  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Nebraska
  • South Dakota

This post was originally published on July 19, 2018. It was most recently updated on January 17, 2020.


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Leafly Staff

Leafly is the world’s largest cannabis information resource, empowering people in legal cannabis markets to learn about the right products for their lifestyle and wellness needs. Our team of cannabis professionals collectively share years of experience in all corners of the market, from growing and retail, to science and medicine, to data and technology.