Recreational marijuana use has been a hot topic for over a decade now. And, more states have legalized weed/cannabis for all adult users, while many additional states at least permit authorized medical patients to have access to cannabis. This past year, a number of states passed legalization laws. This was 8 years after Colorado was the first state to do so.
States that Have Legalized Recreational Marijuana
- Washington, D.C.
- New Jersey
- South Dakota
- New York
- New Mexico
Some of these states have legalized marijuana so recently that there are not yet retail outlets available to recreational users. It takes time to come up with regulations, standards, and restrictions pertaining to how cannabis can be sold to adult, non-medical users. Plus, some states have seen more challenges in getting their legislative bodies fully on board than others.
What all of these states have in common is that recreational marijuana is or will be fully regulated by a state department to ensure that dispensaries, users, and other members of the trade are complying with state law and ensuring maximum safety. Dispensaries in all of the above states are required to be licensed through a state application process. This is before they can even begin selling cannabis to adult users.
Colorado: November 2012
Colorado was the first state to legalize marijuana, giving adults over the age of 21 legal permission to purchase and consume cannabis. Residents can have up to an ounce in their possession, and can grow 6 plants each, with a maximum of 12 plants per household.
Retailers must charge a 10% tax on cannabis products. There is a 15% excise tax paid by businesses worked into the retail price.
Washington: November 2012
Washington allows adults 21 or older to purchase cannabis from dispensaries without a medical card. Residents can have up to an ounce of cannabis, 7 grams of concentrates, 16 ounces of solid edibles and 72 ounces of liquid products. The state has a 37% excise tax worked into the price of retail products. Recreational users are not allowed to cultivate.
Alaska: November 2014
Alaska became the third state to legalize recreational cannabis. Adults 21 or older can both possess and gift up to an ounce of cannabis and are permitted to grow up to 6 plants, with half of them being mature. State-licensed dispensaries provide an array of cannabis products for recreational users, and an excise tax is worked into pricing of products.
Oregon: November 2014
Adults 21 or older can legally purchase and consume cannabis as of 2014. State-licensed dispensaries are fully operational throughout OR as they have been for some time. Retailers tax products at 17%, and some regions add an additional 3% tax on all sales. Adults can have up to 8 ounces at home and an ounce in public. At home, they can also have 16 ounces of solid marijuana products, 72 ounces of liquid products and can grow up to 4 plants.
Washington, D.C.: November 2014
Adults 21 or older can have up to 2 ounces of marijuana and are allowed to gift up to an ounce to another adult. Adults can also grow 6 plants, 3 of which are mature, on their properties. However, the legislature does not allow retailers to legally sell cannabis to individuals, which means that gifting laws allow cannabis to be traded legally throughout the territory.
California: November 2016
In 2016, California voters approved legalization of cannabis for adult recreational use. Adults 21 or older can buy, possess, and give away up to a full ounce of marijuana and 8 grams of concentrates. They can also grow up to 6 plants. There is an excise tax of 15% that is worked into retail prices. Individual municipalities can add additional tax if they so choose as well.
Maine: November 2016
Anyone 21 or older can legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and are permitted to grow up to 6 flowering and 12 immature marijuana plants on their property. There was not a regulated retail market until 2020, with a 10% sales tax and 15% excise tax. Now, dispensaries are found throughout the state for recreational users.
Massachusetts: November 2016
Adults 21 and older can legally purchase and consume cannabis for recreational purchases in Massachusetts. The state allows users to have up to an ounce of marijuana on their person, and up to 10 ounces in their homes. Residents are also free to grow 6 plants per person or a maximum of 12 plants per household.
Licensed dispensaries are found throughout the state that sell cannabis products to recreational users. A 10.75% excise tax exists as well as standard state sales tax on all cannabis products sold for recreational purposes.
Nevada: November 2016
Nevada residents who are 21 or older can legally purchase cannabis for recreational use at any state-licensed dispensary. Residents can have up to an ounce of flower and up to an eighth of an ounce of concentrates. They can also grow their own – up to 6 plants per person or 21 plants per household, as long as they are at least 25 miles away from the nearest dispensary. A 10% excise tax is built into retail price, and state sales tax applies.
Michigan: November 2018
Those 21 or older can legally buy, possess, consume, and grow cannabis as of November 2018. Up to 12 plants can be grown per household, and residents can possess up to 2.5 ounce of cannabis or 15 grams of concentrate. The state has recently seen operational dispensaries that sell cannabis to recreational users.
Vermont: January 2018
Vermont allows residents to grow and possess cannabis, with up to 4 immature and 2 mature plants per household, and up to an ounce in possession. But, it won’t be until October of 2022 that residents can legally purchase and sell cannabis. Why? Because this is when state-licensed recreational dispensaries will be up and running.
Guam: April 2019
Guam allows adults 21 or older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, and they can grow up to 4 immature and 2 mature plants. Sales remain illegal until lawmakers can come up with full regulation of retail, but gifting of up to an ounce is permitted.
Illinois: May 2019
Illinois is another state that permits residents 21 or older to use cannabis for recreational purposes. Residents can have 30 grams of cannabis flower, 5 grams of concentrates and 500 milligrams of THC in infused products. State-licensed recreational dispensaries are found throughout Illinois, where residents must pay state taxes and excise taxes worked into the retail price.
New Jersey: November 2020
New Jersey voters passed the law allowing for legalization in November of 2020, which went into effect in February of 2021. The state does not have operating recreational dispensaries, but lawmakers are working hard to develop clear regulations pertaining to retail, possession and more.
Montana: November 2020
Another state with voter approval for legalization is Montana, where adults 21 or older are permitted to possess and consume cannabis. It’s another state where the legislation is too new for retail to be up and running, and the state is presently trying to come up with regulations for sales.
South Dakota: November 2020
South Dakota now allows possession of up to an ounce of marijuana among adults 21 or older. This went into effect in July of 2021, and the state is presently establishing guidelines for retailers so that cannabis can be sold.
Arizona: November 2020
About 60% of voters approved legalization in November of 2020, and the state allows cultivation and possession among those 21 or older, although more refined laws have not yet been established. Sales are not yet operational for recreational users.
New York: March 2021
After much back and forth, New York finally approved legalization. The state will allow those 21 or older to possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis, and is working on expungement laws at the present time. The state will establish guidelines for dispensaries so that sales can begin taking place in the near future.
Virginia: April 2021
Virginia has just recently approved legalization for those 21 or older. They allow those 21 or older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis. Virginia allows cultivation by adults, but has not yet developed an operational retail program.
New Mexico: April 2021
New Mexico now allows those 21 or older to grow cannabis at home and possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis outside of their homes. Dispensaries can start recreational sales in April of 2022.
Connecticut: June 2021
The most recent state to join the list is Connecticut, allowing adults 21 or older to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis for recreational purposes, and 5 ounces on their person when outside of the home or in a car.