FAQ: All About Legal Pot

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Medical marijauna is now legal, in some form, in 22 states and the District of Columbia. States with legal medical marijuana schemes include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. 

Utah recently passed a bill legalizing medicinal marijuana products with low levels of THC for patients with epilepsy or seizures only. 

Which states are currently considering legalizing medical marijuana?

Bills to legalize medical marijuana—or at least put the issue before voters come November—are under consideration in OhioKentucky, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

Florida residents will vote on Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana, this fall. 

Activists are still gathering signatures to get medical marijuana initiatives placed on the November 2014 ballots in Nebraska and Ohio.


A Tennessee measure to legalize medical marijuana, introduced in January, failed to pass a committee vote in March, though Gov. Bill Haslam did sign a very limited medical marijuana bill into law in May, allowing for a four-year study on the benefits of non-psychoactive cannabis component cannabidiol. 

For the fourth year in a row, a West Virginia medical marijuana bill failed to go anywhere before the legislature adjourned in March. 

In which states has marijuana been decriminalized? 

In addition to the states that have legalized recreational marijuana use, 17 states have "decriminalized" it to some degree, according to the National Association for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). These states are: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont. 

Decriminalization doesn't mean cops totally stop busting people for pot, but it does move the penalties for small amounts closer in line with those for public intoxication or parking infractions, instead of making it a crime legally akin to assault and murder. NORML says that, typically, "decriminalization means no prison time or criminal record for first-time possession of a small amount for personal consumption." 

In California, for instance, possession of 28.5 grams or less is considered a civil infraction, punishable with a maximum fine of $100. In New York, possessing 25 grams of marijuana or less can yield a $100 to $250 fine, depending on whether it's a first, second, or third offense. In Mississippi, possessing 30 grams or less yields a fine of $250 on the first offense, but possible jail time (and a fine) for subsequent offenses. 

The D.C. Council passed a decriminalization bill in March that would make possessing a small amount of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a $25 fine. But the bill is still awaiting congressional approval, which doesn't look promising. 

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  • Dances-with-Trolls||

    I'll take Oregon in the Next State to Legalize Weed pool.

  • Almanian!||

    That's not what your mother said last night, Trebeck...

  • Florida Man||

    " I'll take the rapist for 500"

  • ||

    I'm going to go with Hawaii. Hawaii is awash with weed anyway, no one cares, and it would just take their already stellar tourism industry up another notch. It's logical for them to do it.

  • sarcasmic||

    I think it will happen in Maine within a few years.

  • ||

    I think we're going to have a damn breaking situation soon. When other states see WA and CO not sinking into the sea in flames, and the feds (hopefully) leaving them alone, there are going to be a rash of states that legalize all of a sudden. That will truly spell the end of MJ prohibition. The WA and CO initiatives got the ball rolling. But the next stage is for a whole bunch more to suddenly legalize.

  • sarcasmic||

    I hope so. It will be interesting to see how long the feds insist on keeping it a Schedule I though.

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    What i think will be interesting is what the feds do if, unlike WA or CO, a state legalizes without anything in the way of controls, just a blanket anyone can grow/anyone can sell.

    Also, fuck California for lagging so badly on this.

  • Almanian!||

    We're nowhere, man. NOWHERE!

    Now. Here. Now...here....nowhere, man!

  • BakedPenguin||

    In New Hampshire, the House of Representatives recently voted down a bill to legalize recreational marijuana—despite passing it in January—due to lack of support from the state Senate and Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan.

    Hassan sucks, in a big way.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Lynch did the same thing. Fact is the police unions have the NH Democrats by the short hairs. The most shrill caterwauling against the legalization of MJ in NH has always come from the police who always have a hissy fit when confronted with the possibility that they have one less tool to harass people at their pleasure..

  • Medical Physics Guy||

    Over here it's illegal but "tolerated".

    I'll take that over legal use with the caveat that the Feds might randomly arrest me and put me in a rape cage for life.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'll take legal over tolerated. As long as you don't draw attention to yourself, the feds will ignore you. Legal or tolerated.

  • KBCraig||

    You forgot Arkansas, where there will be a constitutional amendment on the ballot this November, legalizing possession and use.


  • RSteeb||

    Cannabis shall be removed from CSA "Schedule I", and placed in "CSA Subchapter I, Part A, §802. Definitions, paragraph (6)", appended to the list "distilled spirits, wine, malt beverages, or tobacco", where it will STILL be the least-toxic in the category [by several orders of magnitude].

    In other words, EXEMPT from CSA scheduling.

    Anything short of THAT is UNACCEPTABLE.



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