The question of whether cannabis is legal or not isn’t exactly black and white. If you’re confused, there’s a good reason.
Unlike certain laws that are clear-cut and consistent throughout the country, the rules around cannabis are always changing.
What’s legal in one state might not be in the next. And sometimes, something as simple as entering a new county can change the law you have to follow.
The reason for this is because cannabis used to be a federally governed subject. States followed the laws. Marijuana was considered a Schedule I drug, and possession and distribution had hefty penalties.
Now, since the Obama Administration, the feds have adopted a “hands-off” approach. States are now allowed to handle cannabis on their own terms.
Federally, it’s still considered illegal. Whether or not it’s legal in your state or whether your state is “friendly” about marijuana varies. Currently, you can safely say these states are cannabis-friendly.
1. Best Cannabis-Friendly States
First of all, we have to remind you that the laws about cannabis can change at the drop of a hat. Your best bet is to do your due diligence before you move or visit a state and check the current status of its policies.
Check into the legislation for the county or city you’re heading to, as well. Some places have already ended the prohibition of cannabis and no longer enforce penalties, even if they’re still technically “law.”
Other municipalities have a stricter view of the plant. The state may say one thing, but what actually happens in the smaller, locally-governed area is another.
Where to Go For Cannabis-Friendliness
For now, though, there are a few states that are considered the best places to live if you’re looking for a cannabis-friendly area. They have legalized cannabis across the board for medical and recreational use (for adults).
Systems to allow legal cannabis consumption are already in place or are in process. And in California and others who are following it, it’s even possible to legally sell cannabis at live events and places where food is served.
These states include:
Visitors and residents of these states can enjoy cannabis and purchase it freely, as long as they meet the guidelines. As with cigarettes, there’s an age limit, and owners of private places are allowed to restrict its use on their property.
2. The Worst States to Possess Cannabis
The cannabis industry has come leaps and bounds from where it was, and it’s still growing. Unfortunately, though, there are still some places where the government still remains against the plant.
If you visit or move to the states on this list, you’ll find that they have high arrest rates for possession and use of cannabis. There aren’t any programs to help legalize it, and penalties are still harsh. Possession and distribution of cannabis can carry criminal penalties.
Along and near the east coast, be sure to avoid South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee. In the midwest, Kentucky, Kansas, South Dakota, and Wisconsin are dangerous to your cannabis activities. And further west, stay away from Idaho and Wyoming if you want to use, sell, or grow any marijuana.
3. Other Cannabis-Friendly/Unfriendly States
The legalization of weed has gotten so widespread that even mega-magazine “Rolling Stone” has gotten involved. Their April article shows an up-to-date map of the cannabis status of each state.
But as the article mentions, a new state seems to legalize cannabis all the time, so the map changes. Even more conservative states, such as Mississippi and Montana, are in the process of approving legislation to pass cannabis at some level.
Where to Go and Where to Avoid
At the time of this writing, you can visit any state in the northeast and expect to safely use cannabis medically and/or recreationally. Most of the states that are “for medical use only” have also adopted a more lax approach to recreational cannabis use. In some of these states, recreational use legalization is underway.
But the middle of the country and most of the southeast, including the largest state in the continental United States, Texas, have the unfriendliest cannabis laws. Tread with caution if you’re headed in those directions.
4. What Does “Cannabis-Friendly” Mean?
Now that you know where you can expect to find cannabis-friendly states, it’s important that you understand what the term means. It’s still possible to get arrested for possession, distribution, and use of the plant in a cannabis-friendly state.
The key is to check the legislation, not the overall “friendliness” of the state. Otherwise, you could end up dealing with a law enforcement officer who isn’t very friendly about cannabis. He or she would still have the right to arrest you, and you’d still have to deal with the legal system.
Breaking Down What “Cannabis-Friendly” Means
“Cannabis-friendly” means that, for the most part, the state, county, or place you’re at lets you use your product in peace. If a locale specifically says “cannabis-friendly,” go for it! As long as you meet the legal guidelines, you should be fine.
But if the law enforcement officers show up, even if the venue is friendly to cannabis, the police may not be. And if the state still prohibits its use, you’re subject to those laws.
For example, if you live in a state where cannabis is legal for recreational use, like Vermont, and you head next door to New Hampshire, things are different. In NH, cannabis is only legal if you have a medical marijuana card.
To protect yourself, it’s best to have an MMJ card along with your cannabis. This article by Veriheal walks you through the process, making it easy for you to know what you need to do to get your MMJ legally.
Similar to the actual laws around cannabis, the term “cannabis-friendly” can be confusing, too. Before you use your weed in a public place, make sure you’ve checked the updated status of the state and county you’re in.
The excuse of “But everyone else was doing it” doesn’t work when you’re breaking a law, even with cannabis use.