Freedom Leaf’s State-by-State Guide to U.S. Cannabis Legalization

Since 2012, nine states and the District of Columbia have reformed their cannabis laws to allow adults to possess a personal amount of marijuana. In most of those places, adults can also cultivate a personal crop and purchase pot products in a manner similar to alcohol. Voter initiatives in eight states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Oregon and Washington) brought about these long-sought nation-changing political reforms, and Vermont’s legislature legalized cannabis possession earlier this year. In November, voters can make Michigan the 10th state with legal marijuana. Here’s an overview of what’s happening in the states that now allow recreational use by adults.

Alaska

High prices (as much as $500 an ounce for flower) and a low tax rate have prevented consumers and the state from fully benefitting from commercial sales.

  • Ballot initiative: 2014
  • Possession maximum: one ounce in public and up to four ounces in a residence
  • Home-growing: six plants, three of which can be flowering (up to 25 in a residence)
  • Purchase maximum: one ounce
  • Taxes: $50 wholesale per oz. on flower and $15 per oz. on leaf and clones
  • Public use: not allowed
  • Home delivery: not allowed

California

By allowing public use and home delivery (and already possessing a massive variety and inventory of high-quality cannabis products), California is currently the most cannabis consumer-friendly state in the country and perhaps the world. Commercial sales began in January.

  • Ballot initiative: 2016
  • Possession maximum: up to one ounce of flower, eight grams of concentrate and all cannabis produced by personal cultivation
  • Home-growing: six plants, three of which can be flowering
  • Purchase maximum: one ounce and eight grams of concentrate in edibles
  • Taxes: 15% excise, $9.25 wholesale per oz. on flower and $2.75 per oz. on leaf, and 7.25% sales tax
  • Public use: allowed (subject to local approval)
  • Home delivery: allowed
  • Equity program for minorities: only in Oakland

Colorado

With a windfall of tax revenue since sales began in 2014 (nearly $600 million), the Centennial State has shown how legalization can benefit state and local economies.

  • Ballot initiative: 2012
  • Possession maximum: one ounce and all cannabis produced by personal cultivation
  • Home-growing: six plants, three of which can be flowering
  • Purchase maximum: one ounce, eight grams of concentrate and 800 mg THC in edibles
  • Taxes: 15% excise and 15% sales tax
  • Public use: not allowed (except for in Denver)
  • Home delivery: not allowed yet (services may begin in late 2018)

District of Columbia

District voters ended penalties for cannabis possession and home cultivation for adults, but failed to create a system for taxed and regulated sales. This has led to a gifting economy around marijuana in the nation’s capital.

  • Ballot initiative: 2014
  • Possession maximum: two ounces
  • Home-growing: six plants, three of which can be flowering
  • Public use: not allowed
  • Home delivery: not allowed

Maine

Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who vetoed regulation legislation last November and again in April, has held up commercial sales.

  • Ballot initiative: 2016
  • Possession maximum: 2.5 oz. and all cannabis produced by personal cultivation
  • Home-growing: six plants, three of which can be flowering
  • Purchase maximum: 2.5 oz.
  • Taxes: 21.5% wholesale excise tax and 10% sales tax
  • Public use: not allowed
  • Home delivery: not allowed

Massachusetts

Retail stores are currently scheduled to begin operating on July 1.

  • Ballot initiative: 2016
  • Possession maximum: one ounce of flower (10 oz. in a residence), five grams of concentrate and all cannabis produced by personal cultivation
  • Home-growing: six plants, not more than 12 per residence
  • Purchase maximum: one ounce of flower and five grams of concentrate
  • Taxes: 10.75% excise tax and 6.25% sales tax, plus up to 3% local tax
  • Public use: not allowed
  • Home delivery: not allowed
  • Equity program for minorities: yes

Nevada

Unlike Maine, Nevada rushed to sell recreational marijuana, licensing stores and processors just seven months after voters passed Question 2. In its first six months of legal sales, more than $30 million in tax revenue was raised.

  • Ballot initiative: 2016
  • Possession maximum: one ounce of flower, 3.5 grams of concentrate and all cannabis produced by personal cultivation
  • Home-growing: six plants, not more than 12 per residence, only for residents living 25 miles or more from a retail outlet
  • Purchase maximum: one ounce of flower and 3.5 grams of concentrate
  • Taxes: 10% retail excise and 15% wholesale
  • Public use: not allowed
  • Home delivery: allowed

Oregon

The Beaver State has seen precipitous drops in wholesale and retail prices over the last six months, leading to a product surplus and some of the lowest costs to consumers ($4 grams, $50 ounces) in the country.

  • Ballot initiative: 2014
  • Possession maximum: one ounce of flower, five grams of concentrate, 16 oz. of cannabis-infused solids and 72 oz. . liquids
  • Home-growing: four plants and eight ounces of dried cannabis
  • Purchase maximum: one ounce of flower, five grams of concentrate and 16 oz. of solid edibles and 72 oz. of liquid edibles
  • Taxes: 17% state sales tax and up to 3% local sales tax
  • Public use: not allowed
  • Home delivery: allowed

Vermont

The state legislature became the first in the nation to end penalties for cannabis possession and home cultivation for adults in March, but failed to create a system for taxed and regulated sales.

  • State legislation: 2018 (effective July 1)
  • Possession maximum: one ounce; all cannabis produced by personal cultivation
  • Home-growing: six plants, two of which can be flowering
  • Public use: Not allowed
  • Home delivery: Not allowed

Washington

Due to higher tax rates, the Evergreen State has outstripped Colorado in revenue collected on cannabis, with $656 million since 2014. However, it’s the only state that allows recreational use, but not home cultivation.

  • Ballot initiative: 2012
  • Possession maximum: one ounce of flower, seven grams of concentrate, 16 oz. of solid edibles and 72 oz. liquid edibles
  • Home-growing: Not allowed for non-medical use
  • Purchase maximum: one ounce of flower, seven grams of concentrate, 16 oz. of solid edibles and 72 oz. of liquid edibles
  • Taxes: 37% excise and 6.5% state sales tax, plus local sales tax (3.6% in Seattle and Tacoma)
  • Public use: Not allowed
  • Home delivery: Not allowed

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Author: Allen St. Pierre