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Cannabis Policy Guide

  1. Federal and state legality

  2. Decriminalization v. legalization

  3. Laws by state



“Is cannabis legal?”


It is federally illegal¹ for individuals to possess, use, buy, sell, or cultivate cannabis with a THC concentration over 0.3%² in all United States jurisdictions.

However, starting in the 1970s³ and accelerating into the 2010s, states have taken steps toward decriminalizing possession as well as legalizing use for medical, industrial and recreational purposes.


“What’s the difference between decriminalization and legalization?”



Decriminalization broadly describes state policy changes whereby possession of cannabis may be subject to a civil fine, but not a state crime or arrest. 22 states and DC have decriminalized cannabis possession.



Legalization is a formal set of policies that dictates minimum age, place and consumption guidelines for medical or recreational purposes. 10 states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes.


“Where is cannabis legal to consume in the US?”


As of 2018, 32 States plus the DC and the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands have legalized medical cannabis.

[links below to .gov resources and policies]