Where Is Medical Marijuana Legal in the United States?

Medical marijuana is now legal in 38 states, while recreational marijuana was only legalized in 19 states. Despite marijuana remaining a Schedule I drug, federal law will not interfere with individuals who comply with the state medical cannabis laws. Here is a list of the states where medical marijuana is legal, in alphabetical order:

Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

Legalization vs. Decriminalization

Before becoming fully legal, some states have first decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. It is important to remember that decriminalizing the possession of a certain amount doesn’t mean that marijuana is legal for recreational use in the state.

If an individual is found holding a certain amount of marijuana, they can still face a fine or other regulatory consequences such as completing a drug education course. 

While the United States are increasingly welcoming to the benefits of medical marijuana as treatment, the states that have legalized it have also imposed different laws and regulations surrounding its use. Here are the most common laws you should be aware of.

Medical Marijuana Laws and Regulations

Although each state has its own laws and regulations regarding medical marijuana, you will find that many of them follow the same intent. Here is a list of the most common things you need to know about using medical marijuana in the United States:

  • Medical marijuana can normally be accessed only by registered patients. To purchase and consume medical marijuana legally, patients must present a medical marijuana card issued by the state of residence (or not).
  • Medical marijuana can only be prescribed to patient who suffer from a qualifying medical condition. A doctor must issue a written recommendation that certifies the patient. Only with a recommendation issues by a state-licensed doctor can residents apply for their medical marijuana cards.
  • Patients under 18 years of age will normally need a caregiver or a legal guardian to assist them in purchasing and administering medical marijuana. Caregivers must normally be 21 years of age and must also apply for a medical marijuana card. Caregivers may not consume medical marijuana from the patient’s supply and must never distribute it to others.
  • Driving under the influence is illegal in most states.
  • Consuming medical marijuana in public places is only legal in a few states.

While most states will show similarities when it comes to the process of obtaining access to medical marijuana, the laws on posessing, cultivating, and purchasing will normally differ.

Examples of Medical Marijuana Laws in Different States

Medical marijuana laws can differ from a state to another, and here are some specifics adopted by some of the states in the US:

1. Maryland 

Maryland allows patients to possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana, or the equivalent thereof. 

  • Patients must be at least 18 years old
  • Under 18 patients must have an assigned caregiver
  • Patients must obtain a prescription from a licensed physician with whom they have a “bona fide provider-patient relationship”
  • Patients may purchase a maximum of a 30-day supply
  • Medical marijuana card replacements cost &100
  • A patient may not have more than two assigned caregivers

A Maryland medical card is then issued and will be valid for three years. It can always be renewed under certain circumstances. Only one such card may be issued to a patient for each condition for which the card is being held.

2. Delaware

Residents of Delaware must be at least 18 years old and present a written certification from a licensed physician.

  • Medical marijuana cards are valid for one year
  • Patients or caregivers may not grow medical marijuana
  • Caregivers may have up to 5 patients
  • Patients may possess 6 ounces of medical marijuana per month
  • Delaware doesn’t have any reciprocity agreements with other states

The Compassionate Use Card (CUC) allows patients to be certified for medical marijuana treatment for conditions that are not listed as qualifiable. 

3. District of Columbia 

The District of Columbia where medical marijuana is legal allows patients to possess up to two ounces of marijuana, or the equivalent thereof. Patients must be at least 18 years old and present one of the following: 

  • A prescription from a licensed physician
  • A DMV identification card with physician’s signature
  • A written certification from a health care practitioner verifying that the person requires such medication for a serious medical condition and also has no reasonable alternative treatment available

Registered patients can face legal charges for exceeding the posession limit, distributing, or operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana.

4. Florida

The state of Florida allows patients to possess a maximum of 4 ounces of marijuana or equivalent. Patients must be at least 18 years old and present one of the following:

  • Home cultivation is now allowed
  • Smoking marijuana is against the law
  • Posession of marijuana oil is a fellony

Florida requires all patients to register with the state for a $75 fee, submit their fingerprints and mail proof of residency. Patients may only register once every six months.

5. Arizona

The state of Arizona allows patients to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, or the equivalent thereof.

  • Patients and caregivers may cultivate medical marijuana at home if there is more than a 25-mile distance to the closest dispensary
  • Caregivers will be asked to sign a statement that ensures they won’t distribute medical marijuana to other patients other than those in their care

Final Thoughts

Since more and more doctors have advocated for the benefits of medical marijuana, many states in the US have worked towards fully legalizing its use. Nowadays, most US residents have access to medical marijuana dispensaries and can improve their medical conditions and symptoms with this alternative treatment.