Fraser Horton
Fraser Horton

Marijuana has been classified as a Schedule I drug since 1971, meaning that it’s illegal under federal law. However, with the changing of the state laws, medical marijuana has been legal for more than a decade now, and it all started in 1996 when California was the first state to legalize medical weed. 

Today, medical marijuana is available in legal dispensaries in 37 states, while 18 states plus Washington DC have also legalized the recreational use of marijuana for persons over 21.

With the cannabis market growing and the state laws around medical marijuana changing so often, it might be hard to keep track of the medical marijuana policies, so that’s why in this article, we’ll talk about where medical marijuana is currently legal.

About Medical Marijuana and Its Health Benefits

Medical marijuana can be highly beneficial for the symptoms of a variety of conditions due to the therapeutic properties of the active components of the plant. The main points of medical marijuana are its anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, and spasmolytic properties of CBD, the non-intoxicating cannabinoid, which is why many CBD-based products are used as medical marijuana. 

However, the medical use of cannabis also extends to the full chemical profile of the plant. The cannabinoids THC and CBD, and the terpenes work together synergistically to adapt to the body’s needs and bring relief.

What Conditions Can Be Treated With Medical Cannabis?

Medical marijuana can be used to treat the symptoms of many medical conditions, including, but not limited to:

Is Medical Marijuana Approved by the FDA? 

The use of medical marijuana has not been officially approved by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug) yet, however, in 2018, the FDA officially approved the first CBD-derived drug called Epidiolex. It’s a CBD-based oral solution intended to treat the symptoms of two rare types of childhood epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome.

Marijuana Legalization – Medical Marijuana Laws In the States 

Medical marijuana was first legalized by California in 1996. After several successful ballot initiatives in 1998, Hawaii was the first state to legalize medical marijuana through an Act of State legislature. Since then, more states have slowly changed their cannabis laws and legalized the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

As of December 2021, medical cannabis is legal in 37 states. However, in 11 states CBD oil with low amounts of THC is the only form of medical marijuana that’s legally available, and they are: Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

For example, with the Compassionate Use Act, Texas allowed the use of CBD oil exclusively for the treatment of select medical conditions, but the state lawmakers expanded this act to include more conditions in 2019 and 2021. 

On the other hand, Georgia is known as one of the most restrictive states because even though medical marijuana is legal in the form of CBD oil, the possession of more than 1 oz could lead to serious felony charges.

However, not all ballot measures on the legalization of medical marijuana have been successful. In May 2021 the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned the ballot initiative to legalize medical cannabis which had been passed by voters in November 2020.

What’s the Medical Marijuana Program?

The states where medical marijuana is legal have so-called medical cannabis programs which enable medical marijuana patients to get a legal prescription that they can buy from a specialized medical marijuana dispensary.

Patients can get their prescription by obtaining a medical marijuana card which is an I.D. card issued by the state Department of Health and Social Services with which you can buy your prescription. Each state has a different list of qualifying conditions that make you eligible for obtaining a medical marijuana card, the most common being chronic pain, nausea, anxiety disorders, muscle spasms, and many others.

In Which States Is Medical Marijuana Legal?

Let’s see in which states you can legally obtain medical marijuana and what the limitations for possession and use are.

Alabama

The medical use of cannabis became legal in Alabama in 2021, but cannabis itself is not decriminalized. Medical marijuana patients are allowed to have up to 70 daily dosages of medical marijuana in their possession.

Alaska

Alaska has legalized medical marijuana since 1998 while recreational marijuana became legal in 2015. Residents are allowed to possess up to 1 oz of marijuana for personal use and they’re permitted to grow up to 6 marijuana plants of which only 3 can be mature ones.

Arizona

Medical marijuana has been legal in Arizona since 2010, and recreational marijuana also became legal in 2020. Adults over the age of 21 are allowed to possess up to 2.5 oz of weed for medical use or grow no more than 12 cannabis plants.

Arkansas

Arkansas legalized the use of medical marijuana in 2016. Residents are permitted to carry no more than 2.5 oz of marijuana intended to treat a medical condition. The state has an exhaustive list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, but getting caught with weed not intended for medical use can cost you a fine and a possible prison sentence.

California

California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana, whereas recreational marijuana became legal in 2016. Residents are permitted to carry up to 8 oz weed for medical use or more if prescribed by a doctor. The state also permits the cultivation of up to 6 mature plants or 12 immature ones. 

Colorado

Medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2000, while marijuana for adult use became legal in 2012. You can legally possess up to 2 oz of medical marijuana or cultivate up to 6 plants of which no more than 3 can be mature.

Connecticut

Medical marijuana has been legal in Connecticut since 2012 and recreational marijuana became legal only recently, in 2021. While the possession of up to 2.5 oz of marijuana for medical use is legal, you can’t legally grow marijuana plants in Connecticut.

Delaware

Delaware permitted the use of marijuana for medical purposes in 2011. Home cultivation is prohibited, but medical marijuana patients are allowed to possess up to 6 oz of medical marijuana. Finally, recreational marijuana isn’t legal, but it’s decriminalized.

District of Columbia

The District of Columbia legalized medical marijuana in 2010, while in 2015 recreational marijuana also became legal. Home cultivation of medical marijuana is illegal, but residents can possess up to 2 oz of medical marijuana.

Florida

Medical marijuana became legal in Florida in 2016. Home cultivation is prohibited and it’s unspecified how much medical marijuana you’re allowed to carry, but it’s said to be a 70-day supply. Marijuana possession has not been decriminalized in Florida.

Hawaii

The use of medical marijuana has been legal in Hawaii since 2000, while marijuana for adult use is decriminalized. Patients can carry up to 4 oz of medical marijuana and they can grow no more than 7 marijuana plants of which only 3 can be mature.

Illinois

Illinois legalized medical marijuana in 2013 and recreational marijuana in 2020. As per the law, residents can possess up to 2.5 oz and they can cultivate up to 5 cannabis plants. 

Louisiana

Medical marijuana has been legal in Louisiana since 2016 and cannabis possession was decriminalized the same year. Patients are allowed to have a month’s worth of non-smokable medical marijuana preparations, such as edibles, lozenges, tinctures, etc. Home cultivation of marijuana is not permitted.

Maine

Maine approved the use of medical marijuana in 1999 and recreational marijuana in 2016. Patients can have up to 2.5 oz of medical marijuana in their possession or they can cultivate up to 6 marijuana plants of which only 3 can be mature.

Maryland

Medical marijuana became legal in Maryland in 2014. The permitted possession amount for one patient is 4.2 oz unless a medical professional prescribes more. Home cultivation of cannabis is not allowed, but marijuana possession is decriminalized.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts legalized medical marijuana in 2012 and recreational marijuana In 2016. Home cultivation is illegal, but you’re allowed to possess up to 10 oz of marijuana for medical use and renew it every 2 months.

Michigan

Michigan approved the use of medical marijuana in 2008 and legalized marijuana for adult use in 2020. Medical marijuana patients are allowed to possess no more than 2.5 oz of medical marijuana and to cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants.

Minnesota

Cannabis is decriminalized in Minnesota, but medical cannabis became legal in 2014. The allowed possession limit is a 30-day supply the amount of which is determined by the patient’s physician. Home cultivation is not allowed.

Missouri

Missouri legalized medical marijuana in 2018 where patients are allowed to possess up to 4 oz every month. Home cultivation of cannabis is illegal, but cannabis possession has been decriminalized.

Montana

Medical marijuana has been legal in Montana since 2004, while recreational marijuana became legal very recently, in 2021. Medical marijuana patients can have up to 1 oz of marijuana for medical use or they can cultivate up to 6 cannabis plants.

Nevada

Medical cannabis has been legal in Nevada since 2000 and adult-use cannabis became legal in 2017. In Nevada, you’re allowed to possess up to 1 oz of flower and 3.5 oz of cannabis concentrate. You’re also allowed to cultivate up to 12 cannabis plants per household.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire legalized medical marijuana in 2013. Recreational use of marijuana is illegal, but cannabis possession is decriminalized. Medical patients are allowed to possess up to 2 oz of medical marijuana, but home cultivation is not permitted.

New Jersey

New Jersey permitted the use of medical marijuana in 2010 and recreational marijuana in 2020. Residents are permitted to possess up to 2 oz of medical marijuana per month, but home cultivation of marijuana is not allowed. 

New Mexico

Medical cannabis has been legal in New Mexico since 2007, while the adult use of cannabis became legal recently, in 2021. Medical marijuana patients are permitted to possess up to 8 oz of medical marijuana and they’re allowed to grow up to 4 mature plants and 12 seedlings. Licensed cultivators are allowed to grow up to 150 mature cannabis plants. 

New York

The medical use of marijuana became legal in the state of New York in 2014, whereas recreational marijuana became legal in 2021. Residents are allowed to possess a 60-day supply of usable medical marijuana, and home cultivation is allowed for up to 6 plants.

North Dakota

North Dakota approved the use of medical marijuana in 2016, but recreational weed is not legal, only decriminalized. Medical marijuana patients are allowed to possess up to 3 oz per two weeks, but home cultivation is not allowed.

Ohio

Ohio legalized medical cannabis in 2016 by allowing patients to have a 90-day supply of medical marijuana. Recreational cannabis is not legal yet, but cannabis possession has been decriminalized.

Oklahoma

Medical marijuana has been legal in Oklahoma since 2018, but marijuana possession has not been decriminalized. Medical marijuana patients are allowed to possess 3 oz of marijuana flowers in their pocket, 1 oz of concentrate, 72 oz of edibles, and no more than 8 oz of marijuana in their homes. Cultivation is limited to up to 6 mature cannabis plants and 6 seedlings.

Oregon

Oregon legalized medical cannabis in 1998 and recreational cannabis in 2014. Patients are permitted to have up to 24 ounces of medical marijuana or to cultivate up to 6 mature marijuana plants and 18 seedlings.

Pennsylvania

Marijuana possession is not decriminalized in Pennsylvania, but medical marijuana became legal in 2016 where residents are permitted to have a 30-day supply of medical marijuana.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island permitted the use of medical marijuana in 2005 but has not legalized recreational marijuana yet. However, marijuana possession has been decriminalized. Medical marijuana patients are allowed to have 2.5 oz of medical marijuana and to cultivate up to 12 cannabis plants.

South Dakota

South Dakota has not decriminalized marijuana, but it legalized medical marijuana in 2020. Residents are allowed to possess up to 3 oz of medical marijuana and to cultivate up to 3 cannabis plants.

Utah

Utah made medical marijuana legal in 2018, but marijuana possession is not decriminalized. Patients are allowed to possess up to 3.9 oz of unprocessed marijuana or a cannabis product whose total amount of THC is 20 gr or 0.70 oz. Home cultivation is not allowed.

Vermont

Medical cannabis has been legal in Vermont since 2004, while recreational marijuana was legalized in 2018. Patients are allowed to possess up to 2 oz of medical marijuana and to cultivate up to 2 mature and 7 immature cannabis plants. 

Virginia

Virginia legalized the medical use of cannabis in 2015 and recreational marijuana in 2021. Medical marijuana patients are allowed to possess a 90-day supply of different marijuana products – cannabis extracts (5 mg CBD or THC-A, and no more than 10 mg THC) and cannabis flowers (4 oz per 30 days).

Washington

Medical marijuana has been legal in Washington state since 1998, while recreational marijuana since 2012. Patients are allowed to possess up to 3 oz of medical marijuana, 48 oz of cannabis-infused product in liquid form, or 21 gr of cannabis concentrates. Home cultivation is limited to 6 marijuana plants and up to 8 oz of usable marijuana flowers from those plants.

West Virginia

West Virginia is another state where cannabis possession has not been decriminalized, but medical marijuana was legalized in 2017. Patients are allowed to have a 30-day supply of medical marijuana and to cultivate up to 6 plants and up to 8 oz usable marijuana flowers from those plants. 

The Takeaway

The medical use of marijuana is another way to make use of the medicinal properties of the plant and its beneficial components. While CBD is known as the most therapeutic component of cannabis, the benefits of cannabis also extend beyond CBD because all of the components work synergistically. Therefore, medical marijuana can be used for the symptoms of a variety of conditions, many of them being qualifying conditions for obtaining a medical marijuana card in medically legal states.

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in more states than recreational marijuana, including CBD-only states. Several medical states have also stepped up to legalize recreational marijuana in 2021 while others have broadened their existing restrictions, so we can only hope that the trend will continue in the years to come.

Additional Sources
Drug scheduling. DEA. Retrieved December 27, 2021, from https://www.dea.gov/drug-information/drug-scheduling

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