U.S. STATE LAWS FOR LEGAL WEED EVERY STATE

State Medical Marijuana Laws

3/10/2020

California voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996, making the Golden State the first in the union to allow for the medical use of marijuana. Since then, 32 more states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands have enacted similar laws.


As of June 25, 2019, 14 states and territories have approved adult-use cannabis. As of Jan. 22, 2018, the Vermont legislature passed adult-use legalization legislation and the governor signed the bill. The measure does not set up a regulatory system for sales or production. See the text of the measure below.


A total of 33 states, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands have approved comprehensive, publicly available medical marijuana/cannabis programs. (See Table 1 below for more info.) Approved efforts in 13 states allow use of "low THC, high cannabidiol (CBD)" products for medical reasons in limited situations or as a legal defense. See Table 2 below for more information about those programs. Low-THC programs are not counted as comprehensive medical marijuana programs. NCSL uses criteria similar to other organizations tracking this issue to determine if a program is "comprehensive":


Protection from criminal penalties for using marijuana for a medical purpose.

Access to marijuana through home cultivation, dispensaries or some other system that is likely to be implemented.

It allows a variety of strains or products, including those with more than "low THC."

It allows either smoking or vaporization of some kind of marijuana products, plant material or extract.

Is not a limited trial program. (South Dakota and Nebraska have limited, trial programs that are not open to the public.)


United States map of State Cannabis Programs



Medical Uses of Marijuana

A doctor holds a container of medical marijuana.In response to California's Prop 215, the Institute of Medicine issued a report that examined potential therapeutic uses for marijuana. The report found that: "Scientific data indicate the potential therapeutic value of cannabinoid drugs, primarily THC, for pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation; smoked marijuana, however, is a crude THC delivery system that also delivers harmful substances. The psychological effects of cannabinoids, such as anxiety reduction, sedation, and euphoria can influence their potential therapeutic value. Those effects are potentially undesirable for certain patients and situations and beneficial for others. In addition, psychological effects can complicate the interpretation of other aspects of the drug's effect."


Further studies have found that marijuana is effective in relieving some of the symptoms of HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis.1


In early 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report based on the review of over 10,000 scientific abstracts from marijuana health research. They also made 100 conclusions related to health and suggest ways to improve cannabis research.


State vs Federal Perspective

At the federal level, marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, where Schedule I substances are considered to have a high potential for dependency and no accepted medical use, making distribution of marijuana a federal offense. In October of 2009, the Obama Administration sent a memo to federal prosecutors encouraging them not to prosecute people who distribute marijuana for medical purposes in accordance with state law.


In late August 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice announced an update to their marijuana enforcement policy. The statement read that while marijuana remains illegal federally, the USDOJ expects states like Colorado and Washington to create "strong, state-based enforcement efforts.... and will defer the right to challenge their legalization laws at this time." The department also reserves the right to challenge the states at any time they feel it's necessary.


More recently, in January 2018, former Attorney General Sessions issued a Marijuana Enforcement Memorandum that rescinded the Cole Memorandum, and allows federal prosecutors to decide how to prioritize enforcement of federal marijuana laws. Specifically, the Sessions memorandum directs U.S. Attorneys to “weigh all relevant considerations, including federal law enforcement priorities set by the Attorney General, the seriousness of the crime, the deterrent effect of criminal prosecution, and the cumulative impact of particular crimes on the community.” Text of the memo can be found here: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-issues-memo-marijuana-enforcement


NCSL's policy on state cannabis laws can be found under Additional Resources below.


Arizona and the District of Columbia voters passed initiatives to allow for medical use, only to have them overturned. In 1998, voters in the District of Columbia passed Initiative 59. However, Congress blocked the initiative from becoming law. In 2009, Congress reversed its previous decision, allowing the initiative to become law. The D.C. Council then put Initiative 59 on hold temporarily and unanimously approved modifications to the law.


Before passing Proposition 203 in 2010, Arizona voters originally passed a ballot initiative in 1996. However, the initiative stated that doctors would be allowed to write a "prescription" for marijuana. Since marijuana is still a Schedule I substance, federal law prohibits its prescription, making the initiative invalid. Medical marijuana "prescriptions" are more often called "recommendations" or "referrals" because of the federal prescription prohibition.


States with medical marijuana laws generally have some form of patient registry, which may provide some protection against arrest for possession up to a certain amount of marijuana for personal medicinal use.


Some of the most common policy questions regarding medical marijuana include how to regulate its recommendation, dispensing, and registration of approved patients. Some states and localities without dispensary regulation are experiencing a boom in new businesses, in hopes of being approved before presumably stricter regulations are made. Medical marijuana growers or dispensaries are often called "caregivers" and may be limited to a certain number of plants or products per patient. This issue may also be regulated on a local level, in addition to any state regulation.


Table 1. State Medical Marijuana/Cannabis Program Laws

State

(click state name to jump to program information)

Statutory Language (year)

Patient Registry or ID cards

Allows Dispensaries

Specifies Conditions

Recognizes Patients from other states

State Allows for Retail Sales/Adult Use

Alaska

Measure 8 (1998) SB 94 (1999) Statute Title 17, Chapter 37

Yes

Yes

Yes

No, but adults over 21 may purchase at retail adult dispensaries.

Ballot Measure 2 (2014)

Marijuana Regulations

Arizona

Proposition 203 (2010)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, for AZ-approved conditions, but not for dispensary purchases.

Arkansas

Issue 6 (2016)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

California

Proposition 215 (1996) SB 420 (2003)

Yes

Yes (cooperatives and collectives)

No

No Proposition 64 (2016)

Colorado

Medical program info

Adult-use info

Amendment 20 (2000)

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Amendment 64 (2012)

Task Force Implementation

Recommendations (2013)

Analysis of CO Amendment 64 (2013)

Colorado Marijuana Sales and Tax Reports

2014 "Edibles" regulation measure

FAQ about CO cannabis laws by the Denver Post.

Connecticut

HB 5389 (2012)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Delaware

SB 17 (2011)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, for DE-approved conditions.

District of Columbia

Initiative 59 (1998) L18-0210 (2010)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Initiative 71 (2014)

Florida

Amendment 2 (2016) Details pending

Pending

Pending

Pending

Pending

Guam

Proposal 14A

Approved in Nov. 2014, fully operational.- home growing currently allowed until dispensaries open

Draft rules released in July 2015

Adult use- 2019 Bill No. 32-35 signed by governor in April, 2019

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes. Adult use- 2019 Bill No. 32-35 signed by governor in April, 2019

Hawaii

SB 862 (2000)

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Illinois

HB 1 (2013) Eff. 1/1/2014

Rules

Adult use legalization SB 0007 bill passed legislature May, 2019, signed by governor June 25, 2019, Effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Measure approved by legislature in May, 2019, signed by governor June 25, 2019. Effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Louisiana

SB 271 (2017) (not yet in effect)

Pending

Yes

Yes

No

Maine

Question 2 (1999) LD 611 (2002)

Question 5 (2009) LD 1811 (2010)

LD 1296 (2011)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, but not for dispensary purchases.

Question 1 (2016) page 4

Chapter 409 (2018)

Maryland

HB 702 (2003) SB 308 (2011) HB 180/SB 580 (2013) HB 1101- Chapter 403 (2013)

SB 923 (signed 4/14/14)

HB 881- similar to SB 923

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Massachusetts

Question 3 (2012)

Regulations (2013)

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Question 4 (2016)

Michigan

Proposal 1 (2008)

Yes

Not in state law, but localities may create ordinances to allow them and regulate them.

Yes

Yes, for legal protection of posession, but not for dispensary purchases.

Proposal 18-1 (2018)

Minnesota

SF 2471, Chapter 311 (2014)

Yes

Yes, limited, liquid extract products only

Yes

No

Missouri

Amendment 2 (2018)

Yes

Yes, details pending

Yes

Yet to be determined

Montana

Initiative 148 (2004) SB 423 (2011)

Initiative 182 (2016)

Yes


Yes

No**

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Nevada

Question 9 (2000) NRS 453A NAC 453A

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, if the other state's program are "substantially similar." Patients must fill out Nevada paperwork. Adults over 21 may also purchase at adult retail dispensaries.

Question 2 (2016) page 25

New Hampshire

HB 573 (2013)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, with a note from their home state, but they cannot purchase through dispensaries.

New Jersey

SB 119 (2009)

Program information

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

New Mexico

SB 523 (2007)

Medical Cannabis Program

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

New York

A6357 (2014) Signed by governor 7/5/14

Yes

Ingested doses may not contain more than 10 mg of THC, product may not be combusted (smoked).

Yes

No

North Dakota

Measure 5 (2016)

NDCC 19-24.1

NDAC 33-44

Yes Yes Yes No

Northern Mariana Islands

Does not have a medical program.

Yes, HB 20-178 HD 4- Public Law 20-66 (2018)

Ohio

HB 523 (2016) Approved by legislature, signed by governor 6/8/16

Yes

Yes

Yes

Details pending, but will require reciprocity.

Oklahoma

SQ 788 Approved by voters on 6/26/18, not yet operational

Details pending

Details pending

Not as voted on

Details pending

Oregon

Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (1998)

SB 161 (2007)

Yes

Yes

Yes

No, but adults over 21 may purchase at adult retail dispensaries.

Measure 91 (2014)

Pennsylvania

SB 3 (2016) Signed by governor 4/17/16

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Puerto Rico

Public Health Department Regulation 155 (2016) in Spanish

Yes

Cannot be smoked

Yes

Yes

Rhode Island

SB 791 (2007) SB 185 (2009)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

US Virgin Islands

SB 135 (2017) signed by governor 1/19/19

Utah

Prop 2 (2018) replaced by HB 3001

HB 3001 2018- Third Special Session

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yet to be determined

Vermont

SB 76 (2004) SB 7 (2007) SB 17 (2011)

H.511 (2018)

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

H.511 approved by legislature, signed by governor 1/22/18.

Effective July 1, 2018.

Does NOT provide for legal production or sales. Governor's Marijuana Advisory Commission suggested regulation structure below.

Allows adults 21 years or older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana.

Selling marijuana in Vermont remains illegal.

Allows adults to grow two mature plants.

Public consumption of marijuana is also not allowed.

Governor's Marijuana Advisory Commission Final Report- December, 2018

Washington

Initiative 692(1998) SB 5798 (2010)

SB 5073 (2011)

No

Yes, approved as of Nov. 2012, stores opened in July, 2014.

Yes

No, but adults over 21 may purchase at an adult retail dispensary.

Initiative 502 (2012)

WAC Marijuana rules: Chapter 314-55 WAC

FAQ about WA cannabis laws by the Seattle Times.

West Virginia

SB 386 (2017)

Yes

Yes. No whole flower/cannot be smoked but can be vaporized.

Yes

No, but may allow terminally ill to buy in other states.

*The links and resources are provided for information purposes only. NCSL does not endorse the views expressed in any of the articles linked from this page.


** While Montana's revised medical marijuana law limits caregivers to three patients, caregivers may serve an unlimited number of patients due to an injunction issued on January 16, 2013.


Table 2. Limited Access Marijuana Product Laws (low THC/high CBD- cannabidiol)

State Program Name and Statutory Language (year) Patient Registry or ID cards Dispensaries or Source of Product(s) Specifies Conditions Recognizes Patients from other states Definition of Products Allowed

Allows for Legal Defense

Allowed for Minors

Alabama

SB 174 "Carly's Law" (Act 2014-277) Allows University of Alabama Birmingham to conduct effectiveness research using low-THC products for treating seizure disorders for up to 5 years.

HB 61 (2016) Leni's Law allows more physicians to refer patients to use CBD for more conditions.

No

Provides legal defense for posession and/or use of CBD oil. Does not create an in-state production method.

Yes, debilitating epileptic conditions, life-threatening seizures, wasting syndrome, chronic pain, nausea, muscle spasms, any other sever condition resistant to conventional medicine.

No

Extracts that are low THC= below 3% THC

Yes

Yes

Florida

(NEW comprehensive program approved in 2016, included in table above)

Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 CS for SB 1030 (2014)

Patient treatment information and outcomes will be collected and used for intractable childhood epilepsy research

Yes

Yes, 5 registered nurseries across the state by region, which have been in business at least 30 years in Florida.

Yes, cancer, medical condition or seizure disorders that chronically produces symptoms that can be alleviated by low-THC products

No

Cannabis with low THC= below .8% THC and above 10% CBD by weight

Yes, with approval from 2 doctors

Georgia

HB 1 (2015) (signed by governor 4/16/15)

Yes

Law allows University System of Georgia to develop a lot THC oil clinical research program that meets FDA trial compliance.

Yes, end stage cancer, ALS, MS, seizure disorders, Crohn's, mitochondrial disease, Parkinson's, Sickle Cell disease

No

Cannabis oils with low THC= below 5% THC and at least an equal amount of CDB.

Yes

Yes

Idaho- VETOED BY GOVERNOR

SB 1146 (VETOED by governor 4/16/15)

No

Doesn't define.

The possessor has, or is a parent or guardian of a person that has, cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, mitochondrial disease, fibroymyalgia, Parkinson's disease or sickle cell disease;

No

Is composed of no more than three-tenths percent (0.3%) tetrahydrocannabidiol by weight; is composed of at least fifteen (15) times more cannabidiol than tetrahydrocannabidiol by weight; and contains no other psychoactive substance.

Yes

Yes

Indiana

HB 1148 (2017)

Yes

Doesn't define.

Treatment resistant epilepsy.

No

At least 5 percent CBD by weight. No more than .3 percent THC by weight.

Yes

Yes

Iowa

SF 2360, Medical Cannabidiol Act of 2014 (Effective 7/1/14 and repealed in 2017 and replaced)

HF 524 of 2017 now Section 124E

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, for possession or use only, not for purchasing CBD in Iowa.

Less than 3 percent THC

Yes

Yes

Kentucky

SB 124 (2014) Clara Madeline Gilliam Act

Exempt cannabidiol from the definition of marijuana and allows it to be administerd by a public university or school of medicine in Kentucky for clinical trial or expanded access program approved by the FDA.

No

Universities in Kentucky with medical schools that are able to get a research trial. Doesn't allow for in-state production of CBD product.

Intractable seizure disorders

No

No, only "cannabidiol".

Mississippi

HB 1231 "Harper Grace's Law" 2014

All provided through National Center for Natural Products Research at the Univ. of Mississippi and dispensed by the Dept. of Pharmacy Services at the Univ. of Mississippi Medical Center

Yes, debilitating epileptic condition or related illness

No

"CBD oil" - processed cannabis plant extract, oil or resin that contains more than 15% cannabidiol, or a dilution of the resin that contains at least 50 milligrams of cannabidiol (CBD) per milliliter, but not more than one-half of one percent (0.5%) of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

Yes, if an an authorized patient or guardian

Yes

Missouri

(NEW comprehensive program approved in 2018, included in table above)

HB 2238 (2014)

Yes

Yes, creates cannabidiol oil care centers and cultivation and production facilities/laboratories.

Yes, intractable epilepsy that has not responded to three or more other treatment options.

No

"Hemp extracts" equal or less than .3% THC and at least 5% CBD by weight.

Yes

Yes

North Caroli