While marijuana remains a Schedule 1 narcotic at the federal level, individual states have had a major about-face regarding their cannabis policies in recent years. The dominoes of national marijuana policy have been falling faster and faster, with more and more states joining the "green rush" with legalized medical marijuana, recreational marijuana, or both.
The first states to legalize recreational cannabis -- Colorado, Washington, and Oregon -- opened a floodgate of policy mimics as states realized the dual benefits of higher tax revenue and fewer criminal cases once this drug was first decriminalized and then fully legalized.
When referring to what states have legalized marijuana, people typically mean legalized marijuana for recreational use, rather than medical use. That's because recreational marijuana has very few restrictions on purchases: customers need only present an ID showing that they are over the age of 21, much like you would need for purchasing alcohol.
Today, a total of 15 different states have legalized recreational marijuana: Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Nevada, Arizona, Montana, Colorado, South Dakota, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine. By July 1st, Virginia will also have legalized recreational marijuana.
The next states to likely legalize recreational marijuana are New York, Minnesota, and New Mexico, where the next statewide elections have the issue on the referendum ballot, and who all already have legalized medical marijuana.
While these 15 states have legalized recreational marijuana, they have done so in different ways and possession in one state is not the same as possession in another -- even if the states are neighbors. For example, Vermont legalized the growing of cannabis for personal use rather than the purchase of cannabis, while Washington state has severe restrictions on the growing of cannabis plants.
Due to the complexity and organization of medical marijuana consumption, many more states have legalized medical cannabis possession than recreational cannabis possession.
Every state that has legalized recreational marijuana has also legalized medical marijuana, while the states that have only legalized medical marijuana are Hawaii, Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia (until July 1st), Maryland, Delaware, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.
For the vast majority of states with legalized medical marijuana, a specific medical condition is required for a doctor to write a prescription. Only a few states, such as Kansas, make it possible for a person to obtain a medical marijuana card without needing a specific condition.
Many more have legalized medical marijuana but set limits on the quantity of THC (the psychoactive compound). Texas, for example, criminalizes the possession of any cannabis or cannabis product with greater than 0.5% THC, meaning that only CBD strains and products are legal. In some states, the quantity of legal medical marijuana is also restricted. In Florida, a person can only possess up to four ounces, while in Louisiana, they may only possess a 30-day supply, meaning that the amount a person can possess is dependent on their prescription and usage.
Medical laws are complicated by the fact that some states have decriminalized, but not legalized, marijuana. North Carolina has decriminalized possession of marijuana even though it is not recreationally legal, while it is further illegal in North Carolina to grow or transport marijuana of any kind. Arkansas has not decriminalized marijuana despite legalizing medical marijuana, meaning that a person with the legal right to possess medical marijuana may still be arrested if they are caught with it and subject to a year in jail or fines of $2500.
Many of the most restrictive states -- those that have legalized medical marijuana but still criminalize possession and outlaw growing or transporting -- have very few places to specifically purchase medical marijuana. Georgia, for instance, has only a handful of dispensaries across the state, and if you are caught with more than an ounce, you may be looking at felony charges.
If you are interested in the growth of the cannabis business, you need a thorough knowledge of the law. You also need help getting the capital for the business itself.
CannaBusiness Financing can help dispensaries, grow-ops, and distribution chains to get the money required for starting up, growing strong, and overcoming bumps in the road. Contact CannaBusiness Financing to see what policies exist in your region or to get pre-approved for funding so that you can succeed as more states legalize cannabis use.
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