States With Legal Recreational Cannabis

Oregon became the first state to decriminalize marijuana in 1973, by 1980 there were over ten other states who had decriminalized the substance. In 1996 California Proposition 215 became law and made the golden state the first to legalize medical marijuana. Over two decades later 29 states and Washington D.C have followed the trend in medically legalizing the herb. In 2012, almost 40 years after the first state decriminalized cannabis, Colorado and Washington became the first states to actually legalize cannabis recreationally. Since the first recreational legislation was passed in 2012, Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon have all legalized recreational cannabis. So what exactly has each state legalized?



Colorado Amendment 64 was passed by voters on November 6th, 2012. The amendment eventually became law in January 2014. The new legislation allowed for the legal possession of up to an ounce of cannabsis, and between one and two ounces is a small $100 fine. Selling the substance is still illegal and is classified as a misdemeanor. Growing up to six plants in your home is completely legal in the state. However, if you’re caught growing more than six plants you can end up getting a hefty $100,000 fine.


Washington Initiative 502 was passed in November 2012 by an approximate margin of 56% to 44%. The new law was written as to come into effect no later than December 6th, 2012. In the state, you can possess up to an ounce of cannabis legally. But, if you are holding more than 40 grams of dried herb, you can be charged with a felony and get up to five years in prison. Any amount of sale or cultivation of the substance is also considered a felony and is punishable by up to five years in jail.


Alaska Measure 2 legalized recreational cannabis in 2014 after a successful ballot initiative. The law came into effect on February 24th, 2015. From then on, the possession of up to one ounce in public, and four ounces in your home became legal. While a sale is still illegal, residents are allowed to cultivate up to 25 plants in their homes.


In Oregon 2014, Measure 91 was passed which proceeded to legalize the recreational cultivation and use of cannabis. By 2015, people in Oregon were able to purchase cannabis from local dispensaries. As per the usual, you can possess up to one ounce of cannabis legally but selling the substance is still illegal. Growing up to four plants in your house is legal, but any more than eight and you’re looking at a felony charge.


Question 2 was a voter initiative to legalize recreational marijuana proposed in 2016. On election day the initiative passed by a 54% to 46% vote. The new law legalized possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, however, cultivation and sale are still illegal.

California, Massachusets, and Maine

All three of these states legalized recreational cannabis in 2016. You can cultivate up to six plants legally, and possess up to an ounce of dried cannabis. With the exception being Maine, where you can possess up to 2.5 ounces. Interestingly enough, a sale of cannabis in California only lands you a maximum of 6 months in jail and a $500 fine. This being the least severe punishment out of any state with legal recreational marijuana.



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