States That Legally Regulate Medical and/or Adult Social Use of Marijuana
As of February 15, 2017, a total of 28 states plus the District of Columbia and Guam have what are called "effective" state medical marijuana laws, and one more state has created an academic program which may in the future help that state's patients. These states include: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington state.
Additionally, 8 states have legalized adult (aged 21 and older) personal use of marijuana and legally regulate the production, distribution, and sale of marijuana: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington state. The District of Columbia legalized personal possession and cultivation of marijuana by adults aged 21 and older.
According to the Marijuana Policy Project: "Currently, 40 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam have laws on the books that recognize marijuana’s medical value -- or the value of certain strains:
"-- Since 1996, 23 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam have enacted laws that eﬀectively allow patients to use and access medical marijuana despite federal law. To be eﬀective, a state law must remove criminal penalties for patients who use and possess medical marijuana with their doctors’ approval or certification. Effective laws must also have a realistic means for patients to access marijuana, such as by growing it at home or buying it at a dispensary. Finally, the laws must allow patients to either smoke or vaporize marijuana or marijuana oils and must allow for a variety of strains of marijuana, including both strains with higher and lower amounts of THC.
"-- One state, Louisiana, has an ineﬀective law that recognizes marijuana’s medical value but relies on doctors and pharmacies breaking federal law.
"-- An additional 16 states allow only low-THC marijuana or cannabis oils. Most of those laws — much like dozens of ineﬀective medical marijuana laws enacted before 1996 -- are unlikely to provide patients with relief until federal law changes. Several depend on risk-averse individuals and institutions, such as universities, to break federal law by distributing cannabis. Others have no means of in-state access to cannabis preparations at all."
Marijuana Policy Project, "State by State Medical Marijuana Laws 2015 with a December 2016 Supplement - How to Remove the Threat of Arrest," (Washington, DC: MPP, February 2017), p. 1, last accessed April 28, 2017.