States Where Smoking Marijuana is Legal

Where You Can Buy and Smoke Weed in the U.S. Without Getting Busted

Cannabis Plant
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Eight states have legalized recreational marijuana use in the United States. They are Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Washington, D.C., also allows the recreational use of marijuana. 

They are among 30 states that allow the use of marijuana in some form; most others allow for use of the substance for medicinal purposes. The eight states where recreational use is legal have the most expansive laws on the books. 

Here are the states in which marijuana use is legal. They do not include states that have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana or states that allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. It is also important to note that growing and selling marijuana is illegal under federal law, though that rule is not enforced by the U.S. attorney general.

1. Alaska

Alaska became the third state to allow the recreational marijuana use in February 2015. The legalization of marijuana in Alaska came by a ballot referendum in November 2014, when 53 percent of voters supported the move to allow use of the substance in private places. Smoking pot in public, however, is punishable by a modest fine of $100. Private use of marijuana in Alaska was first declared a right in 1975 when the state supreme court ruled that possessing small amounts of the substance was protected under the state constitution's guarantee of the right to privacy. Under Alaska state law, adults 21 and older can carry up to an ounce of marijuana and possess six plants.

2. California

California state lawmakers legalized the recreational use of marijuana with the passage of Proposition 64 in November 2016, making it the largest state to make pot use OK. The measure had the support of 57 percent of the legislature there. Sale of marijuana became legal in 2018. "Cannabis is now legal in the most populous state in the country, dramatically increasing the total potential size of the industry while establishing legal adult use markets across the entire US Pacific Coast given the legalized states of Washington and Oregon," stated New Frontier Data, which tracks the cannabis industry.

3. Colorado

The ballot initiative in Colorado was called Amendment 64. The proposal passed in 2012 with support from 55.3 percent of voters in that state on Nov. 6, 2012. Colorado and Washington were the first states in the nation to legalize recreational use of the substance. The amendment to the state constitution allows any resident over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce, or 28.5 grams, of marijuana. Residents can also grow a small number of marijuana plants under the amendment. It remains illegal to smoke marijuana in public. In addition, individuals are not able to sell the substance themselves in Colorado. Marijuana is legal for sale only by state-licensed stores similar to those in many states that sell liquor. The first such stores are expected to open in 2014, according to published reports.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, officially proclaimed marijuana legal in his state on Dec. 10, 2012. "If the voters go out and pass something and they put it in the state constitution, by a significant margin, far be it from myself or any governor to overrule. I mean, this is why it’s a democracy, right?" said Hickenlooper, who opposed the measure.

4. Maine

Voters approved the Marijuana Legalization Act in a 2016 referendum. The state did not, however, begin issuing commercial licenses to sell the drug immediately because state lawmakers could not agree on how to regulate the industry.

5. Massachusetts

Voters legalized recreational marijuana in November 2016. The state's Cannabis Advisory Board continues to work on regulations but is reportedly planning to allow use of the substance in retail spaces, unlike most other states. 

6. Nevada

Voters passed Question 2 in the 2016 election, making recreation marijuana legal as of 2017. Adults ages 21 and older can possess up to one ounce of cannabis and up to an eighth ounce of concentrate. Public consumption is punishable by a $600 fine. The measure had support from 55 percent of voters.

 

7. Oregon

Oregon became the fourth state to allow the recreational use of marijuana in July 2015. The legalization of marijuana in Oregon came by ballot initiative in November 2014, when 56 percent of voters supported the move. Oregonians are allowed to posses up to an ounce of marijuana in public and 8 ounces in their homes. They are also allowed to grow as many as four plants in their homes.

8. Washington

The ballot measure approved in Washington was called Initiative 502. It was very similar to Colorado's Amendment 64 in that it allows state residents ages 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use. The measure passed in 2012 with the support of 55.7 percent of voters in the state. The Washington ballot initiative also put in place substantial tax rates imposed on growers, processors and retailers. The tax rate on recreational marijuana at each stage is 25 percent, and the revenue goes to state coffers.

District of Columbia

Washington, D.C., legalized the recreational use of marijuana in February of 2015. The measure was supported by 65 percent of voters in a November 2014 ballot initiative. If you're in the nation's capital, you're allowed to carry up to 2 ounces of marijuana and grow as many as six plants in your home. You can also "gift" a friend up to an ounce of pot.