Cannabis Legalisation: Where is Cannabis Legal in the USA?

30th July 2020

Although cannabis has been consumed by humans as a recreational and medicinal drug for thousands of years, it has been illegal in most countries around the world for decades. However, many jurisdictions have now legalised cannabis in some form. Cannabis laws vary from state to state in the USA, so where is cannabis legal in the country?

In the USA, cannabis remains a controlled substance at the federal level. However, individual states can set their own regulations on how cannabis can be used. This includes legalising the drug for both recreational and medical purposes. As a result, many states now have a developed medical cannabis sector. In addition, a growing number have also opted to legalise the recreational use of the drug.

Medical Cannabis in the USA

Medical cannabis remains illegal at the federal level in the US and is listed under schedule 1 of the list of controlled substances. Alongside heroin and cocaine, this means that is considered to have no medical benefits and a high potential for abuse. However, a large proportion of states now permit the use of medical cannabis to some extent. California was the first state to introduce medical cannabis legalisation back in 1996. A total of 33 states have now legalised medical cannabis.

States that have NOT legalised medical cannabis

  • Alabama
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
cannabis legalised
Cannabis in jars

Recreational Cannabis in the USA

Legislation around the recreational cannabis can vary significantly among the states that have taken the step to legalise. For example, while some states may allow the personal use of cannabis for adults, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a commercial market has been developed. On the other hand, a growing number of states have developed an ever-growing cannabis sector including legal cannabis dispensaries.

States and territories that permit recreational cannabis use:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colarado
  • District of Columbia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Furthermore, recreational cannabis use has been decriminalised to some extent in the folowing states:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island
  • Virginia

You can find further information on the cannabis legislatio of individual states, here.

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