Adult-use cannabis laws
Eighteen states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington) and the District of Columbia have laws to regulate the sale, consumption, and taxation of cannabis for adults 21 and older.
Medical Cannabis Laws
A total of thirty-six states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of cannabis for qualifying medical conditions. Of the thirty-six states with medical cannabis policies in place, seven states (California, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Dakota) and the District of Columbia have full medical access, meaning that doctors can recommend cannabis as a treatment for any medical purpose they deem appropriate. Meanwhile twenty-nine states permit the use of medical cannabis for only a limited number of conditions prescribed by the state legislature (or, in a few instances, the relevant regulatory authority). This approach is flawed, as it neglects many patients who could benefit from medical cannabis.
CBD-only/Low THC Laws
There are eleven states that have limited CBD-only/low-THC laws. These laws only allow access to strains with low levels of THC and high levels of cannabidiol (CBD). Some common restrictions of CBD-only/low-THC laws include: (1) limiting use to very specific cannabis products, (2) limiting the qualifying illnesses and symptoms subject to treatment at a physician’s recommendation, (3) limiting the distributors of cannabis products, and (4) requiring identification or registration cards from patients or physicians before obtaining the cannabis product.
Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized cannabis, meaning that the criminal penalties for cannabis possession have been reduced to a civil fine. By taking a less punitive approach to cannabis, individuals no longer face the potentially life-altering ramifications of going to jail and law enforcement is free to focus their time and resources on issues that pose a real threat to public safety.
Idaho, Nebraska, and Kansas have the strictest cannabis laws in the country. Cannabis is strictly illegal in Idaho, with no legislation to decriminalize cannabis possession or facilitate some form of legal medical or adult-use cannabis access. Nebraska decriminalized first-time possession in the late 70’s, but cannabis use and possession remains illegal for both medical and adult-use purposes. While Kansas permits the use of CBD oil, any amount of THC is strictly prohibited in the state. This creates a de facto ban, as all CBD products contain at least trace amounts of THC.
To learn more, check out our National Overview policy paper.
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