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What States Is Marijuana Legal for Recreation?

Where Is Recreational Marijuana Legal In the United States?

Many people are uncertain where recreational marijuana is legal in the United States. Some states have legalized it, others states have only legalized medical marijuana, but there are states where recreational marijuana is completely illegal. After researching which states allow people to freely smoke marijuana for recreational purposes, I was able to compile a list for those who are wondering where states legal for marijuana are located.

What states is marijuana legal for recreation? The states where marijuana is legal for recreational purposes are Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. These states all have different laws regulating the sale and use of marijuana, so it is important to be familiar with the specific regulations to avoid legal trouble.

Although these states allow you to smoke marijuana for recreational purposes, there are still laws that are put in place to make sure those under the influence are not endangering others.

States That Allow Recreational Marijuana

These states have decided to not only legalize marijuana for medical purposes, but also recreational use:


In Alaska marijuana is legalized in small quantities and cannot be smoked in public. It is legal to own marijuana paraphernalia, grow marijuana plants for personal use without a license, and carry up to an ounce of marijuana.


In California marijuana is legalized to tax the sale of marijuana. Marijuana can be grown for personal consumption if it stays within the allowed six-plant limit per individual. Marijuana cannot be eaten or smoked in a public place.


In Colorado marijuana is legalized for recreational use, and citizens are allowed to grow marijuana plants as long as they stay within the limit of six plants per individual. Marijuana cannot be consumed in public places or while driving a car.


In Maine marijuana is legalized if the person is over 21 years of age and is allowed to grow marijuana plants. Marijuana can be legally sold in marijuana stores that have been licensed by the state.


In Massachusetts marijuana is legalized if the individual has a marijuana permit from the state, gets it from someone with a marijuana license, or has two people who are designated caregivers for marijuana use. Marijuana cannot be smoked in public places.


In Nevada, marijuana is legalized, but marijuana stores are not allowed to sell marijuana that was grown on-site unless they have a marijuana production license from the state. Marijuana cannot be consumed in public places or while driving a car.


In Oregon marijuana is legalized only with the permission of the individual’s marijuana caretaker, marijuana cannot be consumed or smoked in public places.


In Washington marijuana is legalized if the individual has a marijuana permit from the state. Marijuana can be grown at home as long as it stays within the limit of four marijuana plants per household. Marijuana cannot be smoked in public places.

The Benefits & Drawbacks of Legalizing Marijuana

Each state has its benefits and drawbacks to legalizing marijuana. For example, while California allows for a large variety of cannabis businesses, Oregon has only recently begun licensing retailers. It is important to research the specifics of each state before making any decisions about investing in this industry.

The Benefits

Marijuana is a natural substance that has been known to have many benefits. States, where marijuana is legal for recreational purposes, report an increase in tax revenue, tourism, and jobs.

In states where medicinal marijuana is legal, fewer prescription opioids are being used as painkillers. Prescription opioids can be highly addictive and fatal if they are taken in excess or combined with other drugs such as alcohol or benzodiazepines.

Marijuana can also boost the local economy by creating new jobs in the marijuana industry. According to The Huffington Post, “The marijuana industry already employs between 165,000 and 230,000 people.” This number is only going to continue to grow as marijuana becomes legal in more states.

The Drawbacks

Although states with legalized marijuana have many benefits, some drawbacks currently outweigh the benefits. Marijuana has been shown to impair cognitive function and can cause addiction.

There is also concern about the effects marijuana has on developing brains. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana before making any decisions.

Another drawback is that marijuana is still illegal on the federal level. This means that states that have legalized marijuana can conflict with the federal government.

With states where marijuana is legal for recreation on the rise, it is important to stay updated about what states allow you to smoke pot recreationally so you do not find yourself in legal trouble. Be sure to research the specific laws of each state before indulging in this activity.

Economic Benefits of Recreational Marijuana

The economic benefits of marijuana legalization are widespread. To start with, marijuana has become a large industry. This means more jobs are being created to support the marijuana economy.

Not just growers and sellers but also scientists looking into the medicinal properties of marijuana or law enforcement officials geared towards enforcing laws surrounding marijuana smoking. Also reported are doughnut shops where they sell marijuana paraphernalia alongside their coffee options!

Another benefit is tax revenue gained from dispensaries being licensed to sell recreational marijuana legally. The revenue goes directly back to the state allowing it to be reinvested into the marijuana economy.

Because marijuana is an untaxed commodity, this revenue can be huge for states with marijuana legalized. For example, Colorado made over $50 million in marijuana sales tax revenue last year alone!

And that’s not all! The marijuana industry has been estimated to bring in nearly one billion dollars a year in revenues and savings which means it would create a positive net economic effect on society according to a study done by Harvard University economist Dr. Jeffrey Miron.

In summary, legalizing recreational marijuana provides economic benefits from increased job opportunities and higher state revenue from marijuana taxes. The effects have been shown to have a net positive impact on society as well since it lowers government spending while increasing revenue earned from taxation. In other words, marijuana legalization is good for the economy!

Is Marijuana Legal Federally?

The simple marijuana question, “Is marijuana legal federally?” can be answered with a yes or no. Currently, marijuana is illegal under federal law, but the laws are enforced on a very selective basis.

As of 2021, marijuana is illegal, with most states enforcing marijuana laws against people within their state borders.

However, some states have legalized marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes. And in those states marijuana use is legal under state law, so long as you follow the rules of that specific state regarding who can possess marijuana and how much they can have, whether it’s medical or recreational marijuana usage.

There are also many types of medical conditions which allow people to become legal users of marijuana in these states where it has been legalized for such uses.

So, in short, marijuana is federally illegal in the majority of states unless you can obtain marijuana for medical reasons.

Although marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law, marijuana laws are enforced on a very selective basis.

What Is Cole Memorandum?

The Cole Memorandum is a document issued by the Cole Memo which clarified that federal law enforcement could not interfere with state-level marijuana businesses as long as they were compliant with state regulations.

It was written in 2013 by James Cole, at the time the Deputy Attorney General for Barack Obama’s administration. The Cole memorandum outlined how states can legalize marijuana and still comply with federal laws against the distribution of controlled substances like cannabis to minors and preventing interstate trafficking of drugs.

Since then, however, Cole has changed his mind on weed policy and has said that he is now against legalization.

The Future of Recreational Marijuana

It is uncertain what the future holds for states where recreational marijuana is legal. The Biden administration is considering legalizing marijuana on a federal level, but it is not clear if marijuana will ever be legalized the same way alcohol is.

However, there is also strong support for marijuana legalization among the American public, and it is increasingly becoming a mainstream issue. The federal government may eventually decide to legalize marijuana nationwide.

In the meantime, recreational marijuana continues to be legal in eight states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. These states have seen significant economic benefits from marijuana legalization, including job creation and increased tax revenue.

The marijuana industry is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years, and more states are likely to legalize recreational marijuana soon.

Whatever happens at the federal level, it is clear that recreational marijuana is here to stay. The states that have legalized it are seeing positive results, and public support for marijuana legalization continues to increase.

In Conclusion

Although states with legalized marijuana only make up a small percentage of the United States, it continues to grow each year as more states legalize this beneficial plant. Recreational marijuana can be used for a variety of conditions including anxiety disorders, chronic pain, cancer treatment side effects, depression, and nausea caused by chemotherapy treatments.

People who live in states where marijuana is legal for recreational purposes can benefit from the relief marijuana can offer without having to worry about breaking any laws.

Written By

Matt has over 10 years of legal writing experience. He's worked and written for legal websites for serval websites including Truskett Law, Bruner Law, Jeffrey & Erwin, Gary Crews, PLLC., Deposition Academy, and Wagner & Lynch.


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