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Where is weed legal in the USA: A state-by-state guide to buying cannabis

Wondering where is weed legal in the USA? Here’s where things are at right now, broken down state-by-state.

Written by
Adam Lukach
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Since 2020, recreational cannabis is legal in about a third of the United States. For the other two-thirds of the country, well, that’s a bummer. But of course residents of those states are free to indulge if they visit the ones where it’s legal. When in Rome…

Not all pot destinations are grown equal, though, and depending on state laws, local culture and a variety of other factors, your marijuana mileage may vary depending on where you are. We’ve compiled a list of the 17 states (and one district) where weed is legal in the USA (listed in alphabetical order) to help give you an idea of what to expect in each state, cannabis-wise.

First, a quick note on etiquette. Remember that actually smoking cannabis is technically prohibited in the majority of places on this list, so it’s worth being considerate of others and finding a place to comfortably partake where you’re not bothering folks. And be aware that due to federal prohibition laws, cannabis is still illegal on federal grounds, including places like the national parks and much of Washington DC.

So be respectful. And enjoy!

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Where is weed legal in the USA?

Alaska

When did weed become legal? 

2016

Who can access it right now? 

Anyone over 21 can possess up to an ounce of cannabis at a time 

What's the vibe? 

As in many legal states, public locations that permit cannabis use are scarce. However, Alaska has become a US frontrunner when it comes to smoking lounges, designated areas located adjacent to dispensaries where guests can purchase and consume edibles and smoking products on-site. In particular, it’s a huge boon for visitors searching for a place to enjoy a sesh. Alaska and cannabis go way back, though, so there’s a healthy acceptance in many places.

Arizona
Photograph: Courtesy Giving Tree Dispensary

Arizona

When did weed become legal? 

2021

Who can access it right now? 

Anyone is allowed to possess up to one ounce of flower and five grams of concentrates

What's the vibe?

Once again, the question of where to use it is a thorny one: all public consumption is prohibited in the state. Arizona obviously isn’t alone in this conundrum, but it can create a headache for visitors. Since it’s one of the newer places to legalize, the state’s cannabis culture is still shaking itself out, so erring on the side of caution – and private consumption – is a good bet until legalization has been around for a little longer.

Ready to shop? 

The best cannabis dispensaries in Phoenix

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California
Photo: Courtesy of the Apothecarium

California

When did weed become legal? 

2016

Who can access it right now? 

Anyone over 21 years old can possess up to an ounce of flower and five grams of concentrates

What's the vibe? 

Despite being culturally embedded in California, the legal industry has struggled to take root due to myriad circumstances including substantial taxes and a robust existing black market.

Although public consumption is officially not allowed, the attitude is far more laid back than states further inland. You’re not going to get in trouble for public smoking in California, but be mindful of your smoke, literally. The risk of wildfires is enormous, and you need to be that much more careful of your roaches and heat sources.

Ready to shop? 

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Colorado

When did weed become legal? 

2012

Who can access it right now? 

Legal possession in Colorado is limited to people over 21 years old, and the thresholds are high, allowing up to two ounces of flower and two ounces of concentrates.

What's the vibe?

Colorado effectively kicked off the twenty-first-century green rush with its 2012 legalization. That early adoption made it one of the first states to attract travelers explicitly looking to toke.

As of April 2021, you finally have proper places to smoke too, as the state approved a proposal that allows ‘smoking clubs’ and their ilk to sell cannabis products to guests onsite without rigorous membership requirement.

Coloradoans are accustomed to public smokers, but that means they also expect a certain amount of respect, so practice some discretion if you’re going to light up out and about. 

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Illinois
Photograph: Courtesy Dispensary 33

Illinois

When did weed become legal?

2020

Who can access it right now? 

Non-residents of Illinois aged over 21 can have up to 15 grams of cannabis and 2.5 grams of concentrates. Residents are allowed double that.

What's the vibe?

Public consumption is not allowed in Illinois, but it is decriminalized, and citations are uncommon.

Beware of the state’s cannabis taxes, however, which are not-so-Midwest-friendly: products with less than 35 percent THC is taxed at 10 percent; infused products like edibles at 20 percent and products above 35 percent THC get a 25 percent tax bump. Then, a cannabis sales tax gets applied to every order, which can climb to 16.25 percent in Chicago.

Also beware: the rest of Illinois is slightly different than Chicago — as in, many areas want to break off from the Windy City and form their own state — so while having a smoke is generally fine in Chicago, the rest of Illinois might not take as kindly to public consumption. 

Ready to shop? 

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Maine

When did weed become legal?

2018

Who can access it right now? 

People aged over 21 are allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces.

What's the vibe?

Maine is yet another state with a public prohibition, so you’ve got to be careful where you consume. Its history with cannabis advocacy goes back decades, however, so the culture surrounding the plant is generally pretty laid back. As long as you’re respectful and careful, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem finding a location to smoke in peace.

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Massachusetts

When did weed become legal?

2017

Who can access it right now? 

People over 21 can have up to an ounce of cannabis and five grams of concentrate.

What's the vibe?

As with so many states, in Massachusetts, public consumption is technically prohibited. Still, you’ll see plenty of folks smoking on Boston sidewalks, and the suburbs are laden with pot shops, so it’s not as if you have to be hush-hush about it. 

Taxes on weed products top out at around 20 percent, which is one of the kinder rates you’ll find in the US. 

Michigan
Photograph: Shutterstock

Michigan

When did weed become legal?

2018

Who can access it right now?

Anyone can possess up to 2.5 ounces of flower and 15 grams of hash or concentrate. Availability varies depending where you are in Michigan, as some municipalities have opted out of hosting recreational dispensaries.

What's the vibe?

It’s not as laid back as the West Coast, but in the right place, it’s close. Public consumption remains banned (although it’s not so hard to find an outdoor space where you can smoke outside of public view). However, Ann Arbor has plans to introduce the state’s first cannabis smoking lounge, which will hopefully be the first of many such spots throughout Michigan. 

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Montana

When did weed become legal?

Pending.

Montana voters approved recreational legalization in fall 2020, and the bill was signed into law spring 2021. But don’t go rushing to Montana for a smoke break just yet: dispensaries won't be able to sell recreational products until Jan 1, 2022, and current licensing processes are restrictive, foreshadowing a possible supply shortage once all adult residents are eligible.

Nevada
Photograph: Michael Vi / Shutterstock

Nevada

When did weed become legal?

2017

Who can access it right now?

You're allowed to purchase and possess up to an ounce of flower or edibles at a time, plus 3.5 grams of concentrates.

What's the vibe?

Being home to Las Vegas, Nevada is a state that leans heavily on its tourism and hospitality industries, and the state recently bolstered those areas on the cannabis front with the approval of a plan to allow on-site smoking lounges. The new law will take effect in fall 2021, but the first smoking joints aren’t expected to open until early 2022.

In general, you have to smoke in a private residence, but there are plenty of cannabis events, experiences and even places to stay, particularly in and around Vegas.

Ready to shop?  

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New Jersey

When did weed become legal?

2020

Who can access it right now?

Adults over 21 can now possess up to six ounces of cannabis or 17 grams of hash, but non-medical purchases are still technically illegal until New Jersey awards its first recreational licenses.

What's the vibe?

Lawmakers expect the first recreational dispensaries to roll out in early 2022.

New York

When did weed become legal?

2021

Who can access it right now?

People over 21 can possess up to three ounces of flower and 25 grams of concentrate.

What's the vibe?

By one key measure, it’s streets ahead: New York is the only state in the US where smoking cannabis is allowed in public. You still can’t do it at bus stops, in parks, schools or workplaces, but anywhere you’re allowed to smoke tobacco, you’re allowed to smoke cannabis.

Conversely, you’ll have to wait until possibly 2022 for dispensaries in the state to open for official recreational use, while a progressive tax system similar to Illinois — where the amount of THC determines the final number — has been floated for the state’s taxation system. 

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Oregon
Photograph: Alexander Oganezov / Shutterstock

Oregon

When did weed become legal?

2015

Who can access it right now? 

Anyone aged over 21 in legal locations in Oregon can possess up to an ounce of flower, 16 ounces of solid product (e.g. edibles), 72 ounces in liquid form, five grams of cartridges and five grams of concentrate. Some cities and counties in the state have opted out of cannabis sales and consumption.

What's the vibe?

Although public consumption is not permitted, Oregon is full of diners, tours, pop-up events and more that feature cannabis and allow guests to consume in one form or another. Once again, as long as you’re not being flagrant or bothering someone, the attitude is fairly permissive. Just be very careful in locations that have explicitly banned it.

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South Dakota

When did weed become legal?

Pending. 

For now, recreational use is still illegal in South Dakota, as a November 2021 ballot measure remains tied up in a legal battle at the state supreme court. While voters approved legal medicinal and recreational use, a state circuit court ruled that the measure was too broad. 

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Vermont

When did weed become legal?

2018

Who can access it right now?

Medical patients can purchase. Adults over 21 cannot, but may possess up to an ounce of flower and five grams of concentrates.

What's the vibe?

In 2018, Vermont’s state legislature made recreational cannabis legal. However, more than three years later, it remains illegal to sell cannabis, as the state legislature did not set up any regulatory framework for a commercial cannabis industry. So you can have it in Vermont, but you can’t buy any cannabis. The first dispensaries are expected to open in spring of 2022.

Virginia

When did weed become legal?

Pending.

The good news: As of June 30, 2021, recreational possession is legal in Virginia. The bad news: No one can buy it without a prescription. And things might remain that way for a while, as lawmakers are reportedly not in a hurry to make recreational arrangements until 2024.

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Washington
Photograph: Matthew Koczwara / Shutterstock

Washington

When did weed become legal?

2012

Who can access it right now?

As long as you’re 21, you can possess up to two ounces of flower, 16 ounces of edibles and seven grams of concentrates. 

What's the vibe?

The state was second in the country to legalize the plant, and has a long-standing relationship with cannabis, so as long as you practice a little discretion, no one should mellow your buzz: Washington makes it quick and easy to make a recreational pickup for anyone these days. 

Washington has not yet allowed smoking lounges or other types of on-site consumption facilities, so you still need to be careful where you smoke in public, or just take it to your backyard. 

Unfortunately it also has some of the country’s highest cannabis taxes, clocking in at over 30 percent for any purchase.

Ready to shop? 

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Washington DC
Photograph: Shutterstock

Washington DC

When did weed become legal?

2015

Who can access it right now?

Adults over 21 can possess up to two ounces of flower. 

What's the vibe?

Although recreational cannabis has technically been legal for more than six years, you’d be forgiven for not realising that.

Cannabis remains illegal on all federal grounds, which accounts for nearly one-third of the land in the federal capital.

And while Initiative 71 decriminalized cannabis possession of up to two ounces, it did not allow for the purchase, sale or public consumption of cannabis.

Now the wheels are starting to turn, and local officials have been able to introduce regulation and taxation legislation for recreational cannabis. In the meantime, there are wink-wink arrangements to obtain smaller quantities as a ‘free gift’ that has been tacked on to another purchase from a store. Expect to be able to make more standard purchases in the next 12 months, though.

Ready to 'shop?'

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