A recent article entitled The State of Legal Cannabis provided a brief overview of the medical and recreational cannabis markets in the U.S. This article takes a deeper dive into state-specific laws (examining possession limits) while providing a foundational background of the state’s legal regime.
The focus of this article is on the laws and regulations in recreational or adult-use states and focuses on Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Part one considered Alaska, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Illinois, and Maine.
Just over 50 percent of Massachusetts voters approved Ballot Question 4 in 2016, which permits adults to grow and possess personal use quantities of cannabis legally. The ballot initiative also allowed for licensing of commercial cannabis production and retail sales. Legal sales began in November of 2018. Currently, Massachusetts boasts 26 active dispensaries.
Massachusetts law allows Adults 21 and older to
- Possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and up to 5 grams of marijuana concentrate outside of their home.
- Possess up to 10 ounces in their home and legally grow up to six plants.
- Give up to an ounce of marijuana to another adult 21 years of age or older.
Marijuana use in any form (smoking, vaping, edibles, etc.) is prohibited in public or on federal land.
In 2018, Michigan voters approved Proposal 1, making Michigan the first state in the Midwest–and 10th overall–to legalize the possession and use of recreational marijuana for adults. Medical marijuana use has been legal in the state since 2008 and currently boasts the second-largest amount of medical patients in the nation. Retail sales are not yet up and running.
Michigan law allows Adults who are 21 or older may
- Possess, use, purchase, or give away (to other adults) up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana;
- Within a residence, grow up to 12 marijuana plants and/or possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana;
- Possess up to 10 ounces at one’s primary residence
Michigan law also requires a person who possesses more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana at their home to securely store the marijuana.
Nevada voters also acted in the 2016 elections by passing the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act (Question 2), which legalized the purchase, possession, and consumption of recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older. Retail sales began in July of 2017.
Nevada law allows Adults 21 years and older to
- Possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and up to 1/8 of an ounce of concentrated marijuana
- Legally grow marijuana plants at home for their personal consumption, but only if there is not a state-licensed retail marijuana store within 25 miles of the home.
- Up to 6 plants per person, but no more than 12 plants per household and the plants must not be visible from a public place
Marijuana may not be consumed in any public place.
In 2014, fifty-six percent of voters approved Measure 91. Under Oregon law, adults who engage in the non-commercial cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis for personal use will not be subject to taxation or commercial regulations. Limited retail sales began in October of 2015.
In Oregon, Adults 21 and older are allowed to possess:
- One ounce of useable marijuana on your persons in public and eight ounces of useable marijuana in your home;
- Five grams of cannabinoid extracts or concentrates; and
- Four marijuana plants and ten marijuana seeds.
Gifting of recreational marijuana to adults 21 and older is allowed, so long as the amount gifted falls within the personal possession limits, and no financial consideration is associated with the transfer. Additionally, adults 21 and older can home grow up to four plants per residence.
The use of recreational marijuana in public places is illegal. The use, growing, transportation, and possession of marijuana on federal property remains prohibited.
In 2018, the Vermont legislature legalized the personal possession and home cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana by passing H. 511. However, the law did not explicitly provide for legal retail sales. Currently, marijuana cannot be recreational bought or sold within the state, and no recreational dispensaries exist.
Adults in Vermont 21 or older may
- Legally possess up to one ounce of cannabis; and
- Privately cultivate up to six marijuana plants (two mature and up to four immature).
- Those who cultivate marijuana for their personal use may possess at home the total quantity of their harvest.
A majority of Washington voters passed the Washington Marijuana Legalization and Regulation (Initiative 502) in 2012, which legalized the production, possession, delivery, and distribution of marijuana. In establishing a system in which marijuana is regulated, taxed, and distributed, Washington became the second state in the U.S. to legalize recreational cannabis. Retail sales began in July of 2014.
Under Washington law, Adults age 21 and older can
- Purchase and possess up to one ounce of useable marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana-infused edibles in solid form, 72 ounces in liquid form, and 7 grams of marijuana concentrate;
It is illegal to consume marijuana in public.