Marijuana state of the union: Cannabis laws in every state

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Marijuana State of the Union: Cannabis Laws in Every State

America isn't agreed when it comes to weed
Marijuana state of the union: Cannabis laws in every state

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Marijuana has now been legalized for adult recreational use in 11 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia. Medical cannabis is legal in 33 states, the District of Columbia and four territories. Though its illegal for all purposes in other states and at the federal level, change is on the horizon. Legislation is also evolving regarding related products like cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp. Here's where each state in the union stands regarding cannabis.

Alabama

Alabama

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In 2014, Alabama passed a law authorizing a University of Alabama at Birmingham study on using CBD to treat seizure disorders. Two years later, the state decriminalized cannabidiol for people with certain medical conditions, according to AL.com. In March 2019, a bill was proposed in the House to legalize medical marijuana. It stalled in the Alabama Legislature but led to the creation of a panel to further study the issue.

Alaska

Alaska

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Alaska legalized recreational marijuana in 2014. Since then, more than 260 marijuana businesses have opened across the state, according to the Anchorage Daily News. In 2019, Alaska became the first state to pass statewide legislation allowing on-site marijuana use in retail cannabis shops, creating safe spaces for consuming cannabis. City officials in Juneau and Anchorage have also approved regulations permitting the on-site use of edibles. However, local governments in other cities can choose to restrict on-site consumption.

Arizona

Arizona

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Marijuana is prohibited for recreational use and was barely approved for medical use to treat specific medical conditions in a 2010 statewide referendum with 50.1 percent of the vote. Patients can possess up to 2.5 ounces. Marijuana can be smoked but not in public places. A legal battle is ongoing in the state Supreme Court over medical marijuana patients prosecuted for possession of marijuana extracts. A proposition to legalize recreational cannabis failed in 2016 but will likely be reintroduced as a ballot measure in 2020.

Arkansas

Arkansas

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Arkansas residents voted to legalize medical marijuana through a 2016 ballot initiative, though the program has faced legal and regulatory delays, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. The first of the state's approved 32 medical dispensaries are set to open in 2019. Three cultivation facilities are operational, and a company called Bold Team has already produced the state's first legal marijuana harvest. Recreational use remains illegal, though multiple advocacy groups have filed potential 2020 ballot initiatives to legalize adult use and expunge the records of people with past marijuana-related criminal offenses.

California

California

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Medical and recreational marijuana are both legal in California, which is the largest legal marijuana market in the world. The state was an early adopter of legal cannabis, becoming the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. Adults 21 or older can possess, use, grow and purchase recreational cannabis from licensed retailers. Californians can even have cannabis delivered, including to cities that restrict pot sales, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Colorado

Colorado

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Colorado famously became one of the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana consumption along with Washington in 2012. Two years later, it became the first state to legalize the sale of cannabis, launching a boom of marijuana tourism to the state. Many other states have based their systems on Colorado's experiments on its way to building a $1.5 billion-a-year industry, per the The Denver Post. Though the state was a trailblazer, it's divided on certain marijuana-related issues, such as regulating the burgeoning hemp and CBD industries.

Connecticut

Connecticut

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In March 2019, a Connecticut legislative committee approved a bill setting up a framework for legal recreational marijuana sales for adults 21 and older, according to the Hartford Courant. The proposal still must be approved by the state House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Ned Lamont, but no moves toward a vote have been made yet. Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 2012, but past efforts toward recreational legalization have failed. During his 2018 election campaign, Lamont said one of his priorities in office would be legalizing recreational marijuana.

Delaware

Delaware

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Delaware established a medical marijuana program in 2011, and the state's first medical marijuana clinic opened in 2015. Possession of small amounts of marijuana was decriminalized in 2015, though recreational use remains illegal. A proposed bill to legalize recreational marijuana fell four votes short of passing in the House in 2018, according to WHYY. A similar bill to legalize marijuana for adult use is set to be considered by the Delaware House in 2019.

Florida

Florida

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis successfully forced the state Legislature to remove the state's prohibition on smokable medical marijuana in March 2019, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Florida legalized medical marijuana in 2017 but only in the form of oils, topical lotions, vapes, tinctures and capsules. A bill to allow recreational marijuana died in the Legislature without a vote or hearing in April 2019. According to Rolling Stone, advocates for an amendment legalizing recreational use have drummed up enough support to force a judicial review by the Florida Supreme Court and a financial impact review, which could lead to it being an initiative on the 2020 election ballot.

Georgia

Georgia

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While the use of medical marijuana oil was legalized in Georgia in 2015, it was still illegal to buy it, sell it or transport it into Georgia from another state, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That is until April 2019, when Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill permitting the growing, manufacturing and selling of medical marijuana in Georgia. Farmers can also legally grow hemp in Georgia. A bill that would allow the distribution and sale of all forms of medical marijuana has passed the state Senate. But marijuana remains illegal for recreational use.

Hawaii

Hawaii

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Although Hawaii passed a medical marijuana law in 2000, qualified patients had to grow their own marijuana. The state's medical marijuana system wasn't established until 2015 when it began licensing pot dispensaries, according to the Los Angeles Times. Cannabis is still illegal for recreational use, but in 2019, Hawaii decriminalized marijuana, making it the 26th state to decriminalize or legalize the drug. This means possession of small amounts no longer carries jail or prison time but does still carry a fine.

Idaho

Idaho

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According to the Idaho Statesman, hemp is considered marijuana under state law. Residents can buy food-grade hemp, but it's illegal to grow. A bill to legalize hemp production in Idaho is in the works in response to the 2018 federal farm bill, which included a provision legalizing hemp. Meanwhile, marijuana remains a controlled substance in Idaho for both recreational and medical purposes. Medical marijuana advocates are working to get an initiative on the general election ballot in 2020.

Illinois

Illinois

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During his 2019 inaugural address, Gov. J.B. Pritzker vowed to "to legalize, tax and regulate the sale of recreational cannabis in Illinois," according to the Chicago Tribune. He delivered on this campaign promise and Illinois became the 11th state to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana. Local officials will still be in control of whether or not their cities will allow marijuana businesses. Medical marijuana has been available in the state since 2015 for patients who qualify with specific medical conditions.

Indiana

Indiana

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Indiana's state legislature discussed the possibility of medical marijuana legalization for the first time in 2018, according to the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. Lawmakers have supported studies of medical marijuana, and in 2017, a law passed allowing use of CBD oil for people with a severe form of epilepsy. It was later expanded, legalizing low-THC CBD for all uses. For years, State Sen. Karen Tallian has drafted marijuana legalization bills, according to the Post-Tribune, but they have not made it past committee.

Iowa

Iowa

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Iowa's medical marijuana program has slowly expanded since its introduction in 2014. The state allows CBD products such as oils, tablets and creams and regulates manufacturing and dispensing but bars the smokable form of medical CBD, according to the Des Moines Register. Iowa’s first medical marijuana production facility opened in November 2018, and products can be purchased at five licensed dispensaries. Qualifying conditions include chronic pain, seizures, Crohn’s disease, AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. The production, sale and use of recreational marijuana remains illegal.

Kansas

Kansas

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In 2018, Kansas voters elected Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, a supporter of legalizing medical (but not recreational) marijuana in the state. Earlier that year, state legislators approved the sale of CBD oil with zero THC. In 2019, the House passed a bill giving people with severe medical conditions who use CBD oil containing THC a legal defense in court, according to the The Wichita Eagle. It's the only marijuana bill to get a vote in either chamber of the state legislature so far.

Kentucky

Kentucky

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All marijuana use is illegal in Kentucky, but a new medical marijuana legalization bill was approved by a Kentucky House committee in March 2019, according to the Lexington Herald Leader. The bill, which would establish state-licensed cultivation facilities and dispensaries, did not pass in this year’s legislative session, meaning it won't be revisited until the next one convenes in January 2020. Some Kentucky Democrats have spoken out in support of legalizing medicinal marijuana as well as decriminalization.

Louisiana

Louisiana

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Although Louisiana technically legalized marijuana for medical purposes in 1978, according to Nola.com, it wasn't until 2015 that the state government established a system for dispensing medical marijuana. However, the state has limited production to just two growers and has only licensed nine pharmacy operators, according to CNN, causing a bottleneck. Medical marijuana in the form of tinctures became available for sale in the state starting in August 2019, making Louisiana the first Deep South state to dispense medical marijuana.

Maine

Maine

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Maine legalized medical marijuana in 2005. In 2009, marijuana was decriminalized and Maine established state-licensed dispensaries. The state does not have a specific list of qualifying conditions. In 2016, voters approved recreational marijuana usage by a margin of less than 1 percent, though it took until 2019 for the state to approve a marijuana rules bill. Retail recreational marijuana sales are expected to start in early 2020.

Maryland

Maryland

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Maryland's medical marijuana program was established in 2013, granting licenses to grow and process medical cannabis. After years of delays and complications, sales to approved patients by dispensaries finally began in 2017, according to the Annapolis Capital Gazette. State lawmakers have commissioned a study on the effects of legalizing recreational use of marijuana to inform bill development for the 2020 legislative session, according to The Baltimore Sun.

 

Massachusetts

Massachusetts

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The first commercial marijuana shops in the eastern United States opened in Massachusetts in November 2018. Voters legalized the use of recreational marijuana by adults 21 and older back in 2016. The industry has faced resistance at the local level via restrictions and bans, but according to Boston.com, there are 23 dispensaries currently open in Massachusetts.

Michigan

Michigan

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In 2017, Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana for adults 21 and older. Adults can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and can grow up to 12 plants at home, and sales are expected to start in 2020. But it is currently illegal to sell to the general public, to consume in public and to take across state lines, according to the Chicago Tribune. The state approved medical marijuana in 2008, and Michigan is the second-largest medical marijuana market in the country.

Minnesota

Minnesota

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Minnesota decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana in the 1970s. In 2014, the state legalized medical marijuana in liquid or pill form for certain medical conditions. Minnesota has one of the country's strictest medical marijuana programs, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, with only a dozen qualifying conditions. Cannabis extracts are allowed but smokable forms or edible products are not. Gov. Tim Walz expressed support for legalizing recreational marijuana during his 2018 campaign, but Republicans in the Minnesota Senate killed a proposed bill on the subject in March 2019.

Mississippi

Mississippi

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Cannabis is illegal for all purposes in Mississippi, although the state grows marijuana for the federal government at an Ole Miss lab, according to the Biloxi Sun Herald. 2015 was the last time residents pushed for a vote on legalizing marijuana, but the campaign Medical Marijuana 2020 is petitioning to include an initiative to legalize medical marijuana on the November 2020 ballot.

Missouri

Missouri

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In Missouri, low-THC CBD oil is legal to treat seizures. All other cannabis was illegal until residents approved a ballot measure legalizing medical use with qualifying medical conditions in November 2018. Officials are currently working on program regulations with a deadline of December 31, 2019, to award medical marijuana business licenses, according to the Springfield News-Leader. Dispensaries are expected to begin sales sometime in 2020.

Montana

Montana

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Cannabis was legalized for medical use by Montana voters back in 2004. The state's multimillion-dollar industry was further regulated in 2017 with revised rules about testing and labeling requirements, according to the Billings Gazette. In 2019, a state House committee killed a proposed bill to legalize recreational marijuana, according to the Helena Independent Record.

Nebraska

Nebraska

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In Nebraska, cannabis is illegal for any purpose. Nebraska borders Colorado, and the state filed a suit with the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 seeking to overturn Colorado's law legalizing recreational marijuana. The Supreme Court ultimately rejected the case. Nebraska Legislators have rejected multiple past medical marijuana bills, but supporters are rallying support for a 2020 ballot initiative to let voters decide, according to The Associated Press.

Nevada

Nevada

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Marijuana was legalized for recreational use in Nevada by ballot initiative in 2017 after similar measures had been proposed in the state for more than a decade. Both residents and tourists who are 21 and older can purchase up to 1 ounce of cannabis flower or an eighth-ounce of concentrate from the state's more than 65 recreational dispensaries. In 2019, Nevada became the first state to ban most pre-employment marijuana tests, making it illegal to refuse job applicants just because they are legal pot users.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire

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New Hampshire is the only state in New England that has not legalized recreational cannabis in some way. However, the state does have a strict medical marijuana program that was established in 2013. The state House passed a bill to legalize marijuana in New Hampshire in February 2019, but the Senate referred it back to committee, meaning voting on the legislation will be pushed back to 2020.

New Jersey

New Jersey

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New Jersey passed a state medical marijuana law back in 2010, and the legalization of recreational use is on the horizon. In 2019, a committee of lawmakers in the New Jersey state Senate and General Assembly passed a bill that would legalize marijuana for adult use, but it was scrapped in the Legislature when it became clear it didn't have the votes to pass. The issue might be put on the November 2020 ballot for voters to decide. First-term Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy made recreational legalization one of his central campaign promises.

New Mexico

New Mexico

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New Mexico has allowed cannabis for medical use since 2007. Today, there are more than 80 dispensaries operating around the state. In 2019, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill decriminalizing up to a half ounce of marijuana. A recent bipartisan bill legalizing recreational cannabis through state-run stores died in the Senate after narrowly passing the House, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

New York

New York

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Medical marijuana has been legal in New York state since 2014, but several bills over the past few years that would legalize recreational marijuana have failed, according to the New York Daily News. In 2019, New York lawmakers decriminalized possession of up to 2 ounces or less of marijuana, but they continue to disagree on legislation allowing recreational use.

North Carolina

North Carolina

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Cannabis is banned in North Carolina for both recreational and medical use, and possession of small amounts is a misdemeanor. Lawmakers have no official plans to discuss marijuana legalization. Meanwhile, North Carolina has enthusiastically hopped on hemp and CBD production and processing, with multiple tobacco companies branching out into the industry, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. However, lawmakers are also debating a ban on smokable hemp.

North Dakota

North Dakota

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Hemp cultivation and medical marijuana are legal in North Dakota. The state also quietly decriminalized marijuana in 2019, making it the 25th state to do so, though recreational use is still illegal. During the 2018 midterm elections, residents voted on a ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana. The bill lacked any framework for a system in which marijuana could be bought, sold, regulated or taxed. It ultimately failed, with 59 percent of North Dakotans voting against it.

Ohio

Ohio

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Ohio decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana in 1975 and legalized medical marijuana in 2016. The law required the program to be fully operational by September 2018, but legal medical marijuana sales didn't begin until January 2019. In Ohio, marijuana cannot be cultivated and ingestion by smoking is prohibited. The state legalized industrial hemp and products made from its active ingredient, cannabidiol, in 2019.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma

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In 2018, Oklahoma became the 30th U.S. state to legalize medical cannabis. That same year, a petition to legalize recreational marijuana failed to get on the ballot. The state’s medical marijuana program launched just two months later. In Oklahoma, CBD is treated separately from marijuana. THC-free CBD is legal to use by everyone and can easily be obtained over the counter.

Oregon

Oregon

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Oregon became the first state to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis in 1973. Recreational cultivation and use of marijuana by adults became legal in Oregon in 2014. The state made headlines in 2019 for producing a massive surplus of marijuana, roughly 2.3 million pounds or 1 billion joints worth, according to the Chicago Tribune. An initiative petition is currently being proposed for November 2020 that would allow indoor cannabis consumption at designated cafes and public events and the sale of pot across state lines.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill legalizing medical cannabis into law in April 2016. Today, the state has more than 40 medical marijuana dispensaries, according to The Morning Call. Though non-medical use or possession is still illegal, some cities including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have decriminalized possession of small amounts.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island

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In 2006, Rhode Island became the 11th state to legalize medical marijuana. Possession of small amounts is decriminalized, but recreational use is still illegal. Previous bills to legalize recreational use have stalled in the state legislature, according to the Providence Journal. In 2019, Gov. Gina Raimondo proposed a plan to legalize, regulate and tax recreational marijuana, but it was ultimately removed from the Legislature's budget bill.

South Carolina

South Carolina

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In March 2019, a South Carolina Senate subcommittee passed the Compassionate Care Act, which would legalize marijuana for medical purposes and open at least one dispensary in each county, according to Columbia newspaper The State. The bill had been presented four times before, and it stalled again in 2019. Hemp was legalized in South Carolina before the 2018 federal farm bill, and use of low-THC CBD oil is permitted for certain medical conditions, but all other cannabis is illegal.

South Dakota

South Dakota

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South Dakota has no form of legal marijuana, and possession of even small amounts is a misdemeanor. It's also the only state in the country where you can be charged with possession by ingestion if marijuana is found in your bloodstream. Ballot initiatives to legalize medical marijuana failed in both 2006 and 2010. Another attempted initiative in 2018 didn't earn enough signatures to make the ballot, according to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. Though hemp production was legalized at the federal level in 2018, South Dakota lawmakers have stalled legalizing industrial hemp after Gov. Kristi Noem vetoed a state bill in 2019.

Tennessee

Tennessee

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In Tennessee, marijuana is illegal for both medical or recreational use. However, CBD products are legally available and industrial hemp production is legal, according to The Tennessean. In 2019, two Republican lawmakers introduced a comprehensive bill that would legalize medical marijuana, but all bills involving cannabis were delayed until 2020. A previous proposal that would have only allowed oil-based cannabis products failed the year before.

Texas

Texas

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In 2019, Texas lawmakers legalized the industrial farming of hemp and CBD products, but the state still has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country. The state's low-THC medical cannabis program, started in 2015, is restricted to a narrow list of eligible conditions, which originally was only intractable epilepsy but expanded in 2019 to include terminal cancer, autism and neurodegenerative diseases, but not PTSD. Texas has just a handful of dispensaries that offer medical marijuana only in the form of oil or an inhaler.

Utah

Utah

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Medical marijuana use was legalized by ballot vote in Utah in November 2018, but the voter-approved ballot initiative was later replaced by the Legislature with a more restrictive law for medical marijuana use. The state's first medical cannabis distribution network is mandated by the law to be up and running by March 1, 2020. Recreational use or possession remains illegal, and medical marijuana cannot be smoked.

Vermont

Vermont

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Recreational use and possession of marijuana became legal in Vermont in July 2018, making it the first state to legalize marijuana through its state legislature rather than a ballot initiative, according to the Chicago Tribune. Adults can possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, two mature and four immature plants. However, there is currently no legal market for buying, selling or commercially growing marijuana. Lawmakers are currently working on regulations for a legal system, but a bill wouldn't come up for a vote until 2020.

Virginia

Virginia

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Both medical and recreational cannabis is illegal in Virginia, though the state did pass a bill allowing but not legalizing medical CBD and THC-A cannabis extracts in 2015. The state offers “affirmative defense,” which protects patients from being charged with possession. The state's first medical cannabis dispensaries, which will provide CBD and THC-A products, are expected to open in late 2019, according to The Virginian-Pilot. In 2019, General Assembly Del. Steve Heretick introduced the state's first legislation to legalize marijuana, but the bills were defeated in committee. Politicians from both parties have also begun a push for marijuana decriminalization in Virginia.

Washington

Washington

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Marijuana was legalized for medical use in Washington state back in 1998. It was later accepted for adult recreational use in 2012, making Washington one of the first two states to legalize it. Marijuana must be purchased at state-licensed retail stores and cannot be consumed in public. The state continues to make advances in regulating its multibillion-dollar marijuana industry, addressing issues such as pollution, pesticide testing and more, according to The Olympian.

Washington, DC

Washington, DC

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Both recreational and medical marijuana are legal in Washington, D.C. Residents in the nation's capital voted to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use in November 2014, but buying or selling cannabis remains illegal. Adults 21 and older can possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis, grow up to three mature and three immature plants in their homes, and "gift" up to 1 ounce to another adult. Marijuana is also still illegal on federal property, which makes up 22 percent of D.C.

West Virginia

West Virginia

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Non-smokable medical cannabis was legalized for specific chronic medical conditions in West Virginia in 2017. However, the state isn't expected to actually begin medical marijuana sales until 2021 or 2022, according to Marijuana Business Daily. Recreational marijuana is still a controlled substance, yet West Virginia's illegally produced cannabis crop lands it among the five largest marijuana-producing states, according to a 2017 DEA report.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin

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Currently the only permitted cannabis use in Wisconsin is industrial hemp and CBD products with a certification or prescription from a doctor. In February 2019, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers started working to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use and legalize medical marijuana, though his 2019 attempt to include a plan on the state budget was rejected by the Legislature. Democrats have been trying for a decade to pass some sort of marijuana legalization.

Wyoming

Wyoming

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Wyoming remains one of the states with the strictest marijuana policy. Neither recreational nor medical marijuana is legal, and CBD products are also banned. A hemp extract registration card can only be obtained by patients with epilepsy. In 2019, legislators rejected a bill to decriminalize CBD products but approved a bill to establish industrial-grade hemp production.

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