In the United States, the use of cannabis for medical purposes is legal in 36 states, four out of five permanently inhabited U.S. territories and the District of Columbia, marking a significant point in cannabis laws by state

As of June 2021, these 36 states and 4 territories allow for the medical use of cannabis products. In November 2020, voters in Mississippi passed a ballot initiative to allow for medical use, but it was overturned by the state supreme court on May 14, 2021 and is not counted in the state totals. As of April 14, 2021, South Dakota’s overturned adult-use ballot measure is currently under appeal as of March 11, 2021, which affected the landscape of cannabis laws by state.

There are significant variations in medical cannabis laws by state, including how it is produced and distributed, how it can be consumed, and what medical conditions it can be used for treatment.

Medical Marijuana Legal States:

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


Marijuana is legal in Alaska and has been among U.S. medical marijuana states since November 1998. Alaska has a law built into its constitution concerning the resident’s right to privacy, and cannabis use has always been somewhat protected under this law.


Arizona has been providing medical marijuana to select patients since 2010. Under medical marijuana laws in Arizona, patients are allowed to possess up to 2.5 oz. of marijuana, and may grow up to 12 plants, which showcases the flexibility of cannabis laws by state.


In November 2016, Arkansas voters opted to make marijuana legal under limited circumstances, passing ballot Measure 6 for medical marijuana. Possession laws for the new medical marijuana program is 3 ounces of marijuana per 2-week period.


Cannabis laws by state show some similarity across the board despite the length of time they have been in place. For instance, California has been a medical marijuana state since 1996. This long-standing regulation allows medical marijuana patients to possess up to eight ounces, a limit that aligns with newer legislations in other states. Additionally, patients may grow as many as 12 immature marijuana plants or 6 mature plants, a cultivation allowance that mirrors emerging trends in several other states where medical cannabis has more recently been legalized. Consumers may also buy up to an ounce of marijuana flower.


The diversity in cannabis laws by state is evident as Colorado has allowed medical marijuana since 2000. Colorado has been a medical marijuana state since 2000. Adults 21 or older can grow up to three immature and three mature marijuana plants privately in a locked space and may legally possess all marijuana from the plants if it stays where it was grown. Adults may legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana while traveling, and give as a gift up to one ounce to other citizens 21 years of age or older. Consumption is permitted in a manner like alcohol (with social consumption laws coming soon), and equivalent offenses prescribed for driving under the influence.


Connecticut has been a medical marijuana state since 2012. Possession laws for medical marijuana patients in Connecticut put a 2.5-ounce limit on marijuana.


Delaware has been one of the medical marijuana states since 2011. In line with other cannabis laws by state, they put a cap on the usable marijuana a person can own within a certain period of time. In particular, the law allows registered medical cannabis users to possess up to 3 oz. of usable marijuana every 14 days, which accumulates to a total of 6 oz. of marijuana per month.

District of Columbia:

District of Columbia has allowed medical marijuana for almost 20 years. Under Initiative 71, an individual 21 or older can possess up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use and can grow no more than six cannabis plants with 3 or fewer being mature, within the person’s principal residence. The Initiative also allows an individual to transfer without payment (but not sell) up to one ounce of marijuana to another person 21 years of age or older.


Reflecting the evolution of cannabis laws by state, Florida has been a medical state since early 2016, operating first a highly limited CBD-only medical marijuana program. In November 2016, voters backed Amendment 2, allowing a larger group of patients to have access to cannabis use. Under Amendment 2, cannabis treatment is not limited to CBD-only. In March 2019, Florida legislators approved smokable cannabis.


Hawaii has been a medical marijuana state since 2000. Hawaii also recently decriminalized marijuana. The law allows registered patients to grow up to seven of their own plants, but initially did not allow any medical marijuana dispensaries to be opened. That has changed. Possession laws include 4 oz. of marijuana and 7 plants.


As part of the varying cannabis laws by state, Illinois has recognized medical marijuana since 2013. Under these regulations, possession limits include 30 grams of flower, five grams of concentrate, and 500 milligrams of THC in any cannabis-infused products. This reflects a comprehensive approach to medical cannabis that accommodates various forms of its use.


The Louisiana Governor signed legislation that would set up rules for dispensing marijuana in 2015. It was the first state in the south to accept cannabis.


While cannabis laws by state are adapting, Maine has been steadfast in their regulations since becoming a medical marijuana state in 1999.


Maryland has been a medical marijuana state since 2014. For medical marijuana patients, possession laws include a 30-day supply as determined by the recommending physician.


Reflecting the evolving cannabis laws by state, Massachusetts has recognized medical marijuana since 2012. Voters passed Question 4 in 2016, setting up the state to become the largest legal marijuana state of the East Coast. Possession laws include a 60-day (10 ounces) supply. THC limits for edibles are set at 5.5 mg per serving, with a maximum of 110 mg THC per package. Residents can grow a maximum of six plants for one qualifying patient per residence. If there are two or more qualifying patients, there can be up to 12 plants total in a residence. In both cases, residents are required to keep plants locked and hidden from public view.


Michigan has been a medical marijuana state since 2008. Although states could opt in or out, most jurisdictions have chosen to wait to open medical marijuana provisioning centers.


Minnesota has been a medical marijuana state since 2014. Possession laws include a 30-day supply of non-smokable marijuana.


Amendment 2 passed in Missouri in November 2018 and legalized marijuana for certain qualifying conditions. The laws went into effect December 2018. The state began to accept applications for Missouri medical cards in July 2019. Patients are permitted to purchase up to 4 oz. of dried, unprocessed marijuana, or an equivalent amount, within a 30-day period. This allowance demonstrates how cannabis laws by state can vary significantly, with Missouri’s framework providing a clear example of the regulated access to medical marijuana.


Montana has been a medical marijuana state since 2004. In 2011, Montana enacted an entirely new medical marijuana program, placing more restrictions on medical marijuana use and increasing the requirements for patients, caregivers, and physicians in the program. Many patients feel the amendment has made the process of obtaining medical marijuana even more difficult and discouraging. Possession laws include 1 oz. and 4 plants (mature); and 12 seedlings.


Nevada began working on legalizing medical cannabis in 2000, but it took six years to pass and open dispensaries. In line with developing cannabis laws by state, Nevada now operates one of the safest and most regulated programs in the country. Nevada has raised the limits on cannabis possession. Individuals are now allowed to have up to 2.5 oz of marijuana flower and ¼ oz. of concentrate. Additionally, up to six plants may be grown per individual, with a maximum of 12 plants per household. These plants must be cultivated in a secured and enclosed area such as a closet, room, or greenhouse, equipped with locks or other security measures, and must not be visible from public spaces.

New Hampshire:

New Hampshire made marijuana legal for medical purposes in 2013. Possession laws include two ounces of cannabis during a 10-day period.

New Jersey:

New Jersey has made marijuana legal for medical purposes in 2010. Possession laws include two ounces of marijuana.

New Mexico:

New Mexico has been a medical state since 2007. Current possession laws in New Mexico include 6 ounces of marijuana and up to 16 plants (4 mature, 12 immature).

New York:

New York has been a medical marijuana state since 2014. Adults aged 21 and over can now legally possess up to 3 oz. of cannabis and 24 g of concentrates. The updated law also broadens medical cannabis accessibility, including extending prescriptions to 60 days (previously 30). Furthermore, once regulations are in place, patients registered in the medical cannabis program will have the right to grow up to six plants at home.

North Dakota:

North Dakota became a medical marijuana state in 2016, with dispensaries opening in late 2018. The list of qualifying conditions for a medical marijuana card in North Dakota is fairly typical of other medical marijuana states, showcasing some similarities in cannabis laws by state. Cannabis flower, concentrates, tinctures, capsules, patches, and topicals are all allowed; edibles are not permitted at this time.


Ohio has been a medical marijuana state since 2019. The med program serves a small margin of people with merely a few medical conditions. Possession laws include a maximum of a 90-day supply, with the exact amount yet to be determined.


Oklahoma passed State Question 788 in June 2018. The initiative had a lot of holes, so emergency rules were put in place soon after. The state’s medical marijuana program is fully functional, with tons of dispensaries open in the state. As of March 2019, there are 68,000 approved medical marijuana cardholders in Oklahoma.


Oregon has been a medical marijuana state since 1998, demonstrating a longstanding progressive stance within the landscape of cannabis laws by state. Oregon has long been a very marijuana-friendly state, and it was the first to decriminalize cannabis in 1973. Current possession laws include 24 ounces of marijuana along with 24 plants (6 mature, 18 immature).


Pennsylvania passed a basic medical marijuana law earlier in 2019. There are currently no bills or amendments planned for expanding the medical laws. Current possession laws include a 30-day supply.

Rhode Island:

Rhode Island has been a medical marijuana state since 2006. Possession laws currently include 2.5 ounces of marijuana along with 12 plants.


Utah voters passed Proposition 2, which legalized medical marijuana, in November 2018, but many people were displeased with the program. Lawmakers got together and passed a compromise bill in December 2018. The Utah Cannabis Act limited the acceptable qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Utah, decreased the amount of dispensaries that would be allowed in the state, and began calling dispensaries “pharmacies.” Additionally, pharmacies are restricted from selling more than a 14-day supply of medical marijuana to patients, based on their prescribed dosage needs.


Vermont made medical marijuana legal in 2007, which shows its early adoption in the broader context of cannabis laws by state. Current possession laws for medical patients in Vermont include two ounces of marijuana along with 9 plants (2 mature, 7 immature).


Washington has been one of the medical marijuana states since 1998 and the program has become a model for other states to use. Registered patients in Washington are allowed to grow up to six plants for personal use and can possess up to 8 ounces of usable marijuana from those plants. Additionally, patients are permitted to have up to 48 ounces of marijuana-infused products in solid form, 216 ounces in liquid form, or 21 grams of marijuana concentrates.

West Virginia:

West Virginia’s medical marijuana program, established in August 2017, experienced a slow start with patient cards first issued in July 2019. Initially, the state permitted only non-smokable forms like pills, oils, gels, creams, ointments, tinctures, and liquids for vaporization. In 2020, legislation (SB 339) was passed to include dry leaf or plant forms. Although dispensaries are not allowed to sell edibles, patients can incorporate medical cannabis products into their food or drinks. Vaporization is permitted; however, smoking is not. Patients are allowed to obtain a 30-day supply of cannabis. This gradual evolution of policy demonstrates West Virginia’s cautious yet progressive integration into the broader cannabis laws by state framework.

Low THC, High Cannabidiol (CBD) Legalised States

Approved measures in 11 states allow use of “low THC, high cannabidiol (CBD)” products for medical reasons in limited situations or as a legal defense. This reflects a growing trend in cannabis laws by state that recognizes the therapeutic potential of CBD-focused products, even in states with otherwise restrictive cannabis regulations.

These states include:

  • Alabama
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas

Low-THC programs are not counted as comprehensive medical marijuana programs. The National Council of State Legislatures uses criteria similar to other organizations tracking this issue to determine if a program is “comprehensive”:

Protection from criminal penalties for using marijuana for a medical purpose.

Protection from criminal penalties for using marijuana for a medical purpose ensures that patients can utilize cannabis without fear of legal repercussions, aligning with the compassionate core of cannabis laws by state.

  1. Access to marijuana through home cultivation, dispensaries or some other system that is likely to be implemented.
  2. It allows a variety of strains or products, including those with more than “low THC.”
  3. It allows either smoking or vaporization of some kind of marijuana products, plant material or extract.
  4. Is not a limited trial program. (South Dakota and Nebraska have limited, trial programs that are not open to the public.)

ADULT-USE UPDATE: As of April 14, 2021, 17 states, two territories and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation to regulate cannabis for adult use.

Voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota approved measures to regulate cannabis for adult use.

  • On February 8, 2021, South Dakota Circuit Judge Christina Klinger ruled that the measure was unconstitutional. The decision is being appealed as of March 31, 2021.
  •  New Jersey’s governor signed enacting legislation on March 1, 2021.
  • New York’s legislature and governor enacted AB 1248/SB 854 on March 31, 2021.
  • The Virginia legislature passed legislation on February 27 and approved the governor’s amendments on April 7, 2021.
  • New Mexico legislature passed legislation on March 31 and the governor signed legislation on April 12, 2021.
  • These actions bring the number of states with adult-use regulated cannabis to 17, plus two territories and the District of Columbia. This total does NOT include South Dakota’s court-overturned measure, which is pending appeal.

Need help understanding cannabis laws by state? Ask Shango!

Here at Shango, we’re known for our deep understanding of state-specific cannabis laws across the U.S. With dispensaries located in multiple states, we are your go-to source for navigating the complexities of medical cannabis regulations. We know how important it is for you to comply with cannabis laws by state while accessing the cannabis-based treatment you need. 

Our friendly team is always ready to offer up-to-date advice and support tailored to your situation, whether that involves finding the best strain for you or the effective marijuana product for your patient. Drop us a line, come in for a chat, or even send us a DM on Instagram — we’re here to help you every step of the way.