Last updated: January 23, 2023
It’s difficult to keep up with America’s rapidly changing marijuana laws, but this knowledge is critical, both for employers and their employees. Employers need to stay on top of things because they want to ensure a safe and productive workplace while complying with employment law. Their employees—who may want to partake in marijuana on their own time, either medically or recreationally—don’t want to risk losing their jobs.
So we’ve created a handy interactive map to show you which states marijuana is legal in. We’ve even broken it down by medical and recreational marijuana. Below, you’ll also find state-specific information and additional resources.
States where medical marijuana is legal
States where recreational marijuana is legal
This should help you to avoid a lot of the myths and misconceptions going around today about the laws regarding marijuana. For example, a lot of people mistakenly believe that drug testing is no longer allowed in places like Denver, Colorado where marijuana has been legalized, but what most don’t realize is that the US Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that an employer is well within their rights to test their employees for marijuana use. Likewise, many don’t know employers that are regulated by the Department of Transportation, like those found in busy transportation hubs like Atlanta, Georgia, don’t have the option of not testing for marijuana use because of federal DOT drug testing guidelines.
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia currently allow for recreational marijuana use.
- South Dakota
- New Jersey
- New York
In these states, marijuana is regulated and laws are enforced much like those for alcohol. For example, several states provide that only individuals over the age of 21 may buy and possess marijuana. It’s a crime in those states to buy or give marijuana to those under the age of 21. In each of these states, it still remains a crime to drive while impaired by marijuana.
Forty-eight states have legalized some form of medical marijuana. There are extreme variances in the permitted use and amount of medical marijuana even within the states with more liberal regulations.
Some states, such as Connecticut, require patients to register with the state and have one of eleven qualifying conditions and only allow the sale of medical marijuana from a licensed dispensary. Other states are more liberal in their regulation of medical marijuana and simply require a recommendation from a certified physician in order to obtain medical marijuana.
Still, other states, such as North Carolina and Georgia, do not currently allow for the use of medical marijuana but do allow for the limited use of cannabidiol (“CBD oil”).
The only two states that, as of yet, haven’t legalized medical marijuana use in some form are Idaho and Nebraska.
Some states have “decriminalized” marijuana use and possession. Be very wary of this categorization, however, because what may constitute “decriminalized” in one state, resulting in a purely civil penalty or fine, is actually a misdemeanor in another state and may carry with it a permanent mark on your criminal record.
For example, Connecticut imposes a maximum possible fine of $150 for possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana for first-time offenders. This is purely a civil penalty, resulting in no criminal record. Similarly, Maryland has decriminalized small amounts of marijuana. Possession of fewer than 10 grams will constitute a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine for first-time offenders.
North Carolina, is another story entirely. Despite claims that it has “decriminalized” marijuana, the state still counts possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana as a class 3 misdemeanor. Conviction of a class 3 misdemeanor in North Carolina will go on your criminal record.
Employer rights in medical/recreational use states
While employment law has not shifted as dramatically as the drug laws over the years, the Colorado Supreme Court has recently upheld, in Coats v Dish Network, the firing of an employee who legally smoked marijuana. Because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, employers are well within their rights to test for illegal substances, even in states where marijuana is legal for recreational or medicinal purposes.
For instance, the statutes of the State of California specifically provide that employers may still enforce policies that include marijuana screening.
Arguments in favor of including marijuana in workplace drug screening
Those who support the inclusion of marijuana as one of the screened substances in pre-employment drug testing in those states where marijuana is legal for either recreational or medicinal purposes primarily cite safety standards in support of their argument. Safety-sensitive industries such as the trucking, railway, transportation, and aviation industries are also the most federally regulated employers.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal laws. Because these employers are bound by federal regulations and testing is mandatory under these regulations, these employers lack discretion in their drug screening policies.
Other employers, those not bound by the federal regulations, oppose changing their pre-employment drug screening policies because they wish to remain autonomous in dictating their employment policies. Because marijuana is illegal under federal law, they are well within their rights to screen for all illegal substances and they simply choose to exercise their rights.
Another argument in favor of testing is that some studies show that even though an employee may have used a couple of days before work—their reaction times are still slowed down months after their last use. In fields where reaction time is vital, like nursing and emergency care, supporters argue that it’s a life or death type of situation.
Arguments in favor of removing marijuana from workplace drug screening
In states where marijuana is legal for recreational purposes, it’s treated like alcohol under the statutes. However, there’s one major difference between testing for alcohol and marijuana—detection time.
Alcohol disappears from the user’s system several hours after consumption. Marijuana stays in the user’s system and is detectable on tests up to a month or more after the user’s last use.
Those who argue that marijuana should be dropped from pre-employment drug screening in recreational and medicinal use states contend that the test is not a good test for safety purposes because the user may have smoked while off-duty, just as a person who consumed alcohol off-duty but is now completely free from the influence of any impairing substance. Therefore, advocates proclaim that the presence of marijuana in an employment drug screening could be a poor indicator of any workplace safety issues and creates an unwarranted and unnecessary distinction between the marijuana user and the alcohol consumer. Because there is no such distinction in the state’s statute, they argue, no such distinction should exist in pre-employment drug screening.
Changes in workplace drug policies due to changes in drug laws
In cities such as Denver, where marijuana is legal for recreational purposes, many employers—not mandated by the DOT—have simply removed marijuana from the list of drugs for which pre-employment drug screening is required. The reasoning behind this is largely due to widening the applicant pool for available jobs.
In Colorado, there is a less than 3% unemployment rate, meaning there are sometimes more jobs available than employers can fill. Further limiting the pool of available workers is not something some employers are willing to do. The result is that they have altered their drug-screening process to specifically exclude marijuana.
Some employers, those mandated by the federal government, remain bound by its regulations. Therefore they are unable to change their drug-screening policies. It’s because of this that marijuana remains on standard 5 panel, 10 panel, and 12 panel drug tests.
Summarized marijuana laws by state
Governor Kay Ivey signed “The Darren Wesley “Ato” Hall Compassion Act,” otherwise known as SB46, into law on Monday, May 17, 2021. Those applying to be accepted into the medical marijuana program must have a qualifying condition and a physician’s certification. There’s a $65 fee to register. Minors are eligible for the program too but are restricted to products containing not more than 3% THC.
Medical cannabis products carry a 9% sales tax.
Alabama drug testing »
Alaska legalized medical marijuana way back in 1998. It wasn’t until November 2014 that the state legalized recreational use for adults over 21 years of age or older. The drug is legal for medicinal and recreational use, but with restrictions. Marijuana cannot be sold or consumed in public.
It’s legal to grow marijuana and to possess up to four ounces in your home or one ounce on your person. This is true for both medical and recreational use.
Alaska drug testing »
Recreational use is legal in Arizona and sales began in January 2021. Recreational marijuana users may have up to 1 ounce of usable marijuana or 5 grams of concentrate.
Medicinal use is legal, but with restrictions. The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, passed in 2010, authorizes possession and personal use of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana by patients with a valid, written physician’s certification, but only for certain conditions including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Chron’s Disease and Hepatitis C.
Arizona drug testing »
Recreational use remains illegal in Arkansas. The possession laws are strict—someone caught with less than four ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2500.
Medical use is permitted for certain conditions. The state’s 2016 Medical Marijuana Amendment expanded the number of qualifying conditions to seventeen including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Fibromyalgia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Arkansas drug testing »
Marijuana was decriminalized in California pursuant to the state’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act. As of 2016, adults over the age of 21 may consume, purchase and possess up to one ounce in a private residence or in a facility licensed for marijuana consumption.
Medical use was legalized back in 2003. Medical use requires a physician’s recommendation for approved medical use.
California drug testing »
One of the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use, Colorado allows the possession and sale of marijuana, but with limits. All buyers must be over the age of 21. Recently, Amendment 64 changed the legal amount that one may have in their possession from one ounce to two.
The Department of Revenue regulates the licensing of all marijuana establishments.
Colorado drug testing »
Recreational marijuana became legal in Connecticut when Governor Ned Lamont signed SB1201 into law on June 22, 2021. Not only that, but criminal records for possession under 4 ounces, and prior to 2016, will be automatically expunged in 2023.
Medicinal use is permitted, but patients must register with the state and have one of eleven statutorily defined conditions including Chron’s disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS and must be purchased from a licensed dispensary.
Connecticut drug testing »
The recreational use or possession of marijuana remains illegal. And, under the strict regulations of the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act, signed into law by Governor Jack Markell in June 2015, patients around the state must travel to specific locations to buy their medicine.
Possession of small amounts of marijuana is an “unclassified” misdemeanor, punishable by up to three months in prison.
Delaware drug testing »
District of Columbia
Recreational use permitted. It is legal for persons over the age of 21 to possess two or fewer ounces of marijuana. However, possession is still prohibited on Federal parks or land, a plethora of which is located in or around the District of Columbia.
District of Columbia drug testing »
Recreational remains illegal in Florida.
Moreover, medicinal use is legal under very limited circumstances, as stated in the Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions. A doctor must be certified and must determine whether marijuana use is an appropriate treatment. The state licenses business to cultivate, process and dispense medical marijuana to qualified patients. Qualifying conditions include cancer, glaucoma, MS, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class.
Florida drug testing »
Marijuana is illegal for recreational and medicinal use. A very limited use of cannabis oil (CBD oil) is permitted. Patients must be registered in the state program. A doctor must authorize the use, additionally, Georgia allows hospice care patients to possess cannabis oil. Any other uses, however, remain illegal.
Georgia drug testing »
Actually, Hawaii legalized medical cannabis back in 2000. However, the law only allowed for qualifying patients to grow their own cannabis at home or have a caretaker handle it for them.
The state opened its first medical dispensaries to qualifying patients in 2017—two years after Act 241 was signed into law.
The state of Idaho is standing firm on its marijuana position. Possession and use of marijuana remain illegal for medicinal and recreational purposes.
Idaho drug testing »
Recreational use of marijuana was signed into law in Illinois on June 25, 2019. Regulated sales of the drug began January 1, 2020.
Technically, medical marijuana use has been legal in Illinois since 1978. That’s when the Cannabis Control Act was signed into law. A medical marijuana program for eligible patients is set to run as a pilot program in 2018.
Illinois drug testing »
Marijuana use is legal in Indiana for medicinal purposes. Recreational use, however, remains illegal.
Indiana drug testing »
Recreational marijuana use is still outlawed in Iowa. For that matter, medical marijuana use is restricted to cannabinoid (CBD) oils. In 2014 the Iowa legislature legalized the possession and use of cannabidiol in very limited circumstances.
Iowa drug testing »
Kentucky is classified as allowing medical marijuana use, however, the state staunchily prohibits any use of the drug. The term “medical marijuana” pertains to the use of CBD oil. It’s sold over the counter.
Kentucky drug testing »
Recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in Louisiana. However, SB143 decriminalized the drug back in 2015.
Medical marijuana has been legalized for limited medicinal purposes since 1991, but there is no provision for the legal dispensing of marijuana. Doctors can prescribe and patients can possess medical marijuana, but there is no legal mechanism for the supply of marijuana.
It’s also important to note that although patients are allowed a 30-day supply of marijuana, it must be in non-smokable form.
Louisiana drug testing »
Recreational use became legal in Maine as of 2016. However, due to not establishing any regulations, commercial sales weren’t set to begin until 2019. Things got held up again when the pandemic began. Legal sales began in the state in October 2020.
Possession of up to 2.4 ounces of usable marijuana is permitted as is home cultivation of up to six plants.
Maine drug testing »
Maryland marijuana dispensaries opened in December 2017.
The state hasn’t legalized recreational use. However, small amounts of marijuana have been decriminalized. Possession of fewer than 10 grams of marijuana is a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine for first-time offenders.
Maryland drug testing »
Recreational use of marijuana is legal for persons over the age of 21. Possession of up to one ounce outside of the home is legal, while possession of up to 10 ounces is legal in a residence. Up to six plants may be grown in a residence and an adult may give up to one ounce to another adult without payment.
Massachusetts drug testing »
Recreational use of marijuana is permitted in Michigan. Those 21 years and older can use and possess marijuana in state-regulated quantities. Medical marijuana is allowed with prior approval for limited medicinal use.
Patients may possess up to 2.5 ounces and cultivate up to 12 plants for personal use. Cultivation laws allow up to 12 cannabis plants to be grown at home and patients may store up to 10 ounces from their harvest.
Michigan drug testing »
Possession and use of marijuana remains illegal for recreational purposes. However, possession has been decriminalized in that possession of up to 42.5 grams will result in a $200 fine and a petty misdemeanor which will appear on a criminal record.
The state’s Medical Cannabis Program and Registry allows medical marijuana use. Possession limits allow up to a 30-day supply.
Minnesota drug testing »
Mississippi was the 37th state to legalize medicinal marijuana. The law went into effect immediately after being signed in February 2022. The law allows the use of the drug for certain patients suffering certain debilitating conditions.
Mississippi drug testing »
Recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in Missouri. The state decriminalized possession charges of up to 10 grams of pot.
Missouri legalized both medical marijuana and CBD use. Medical marijuana use is only an option for those patients who apply for it.
Missouri drug testing »
In Montana, adults 21 and over may possess and use up to one ounce of marijuana or eight grams of concentrates.
Marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes subject to specific limitations including the requirement that a user holds a current “registry identification card” issued by the state of Montana. Both patients and caregivers must register with the state.
Patients are allowed to grow up to six flowering and six nonflowering plants at home.
Montana drug testing »
There are no laws legalizing marijuana for either recreational or medical use in Nebraska. Decriminalization has occurred for possession of very small amounts of marijuana.
Nebraska drug testing »
Recreational and medicinal use of marijuana are both legal as of 2016 in Nevada. Adults over the age of 21 may possess, transport, and cultivate marijuana for personal use. However, public consumption is strictly prohibited.
Nevada drug testing »
Recreational use remains illegal in New Hampshire, however, the state has decriminalized possession of up to 21 grams of cannabis and up to 5 grams of hash.
The Therapeutic Cannabis Program allows those suffering from qualifying conditions to register as a patient. Patients are limited to purchasing no more than two ounces from a licensed dispensary in a 10-day period.
New Hampshire drug testing »
Recreational and medical marijuana use is legal in New Jersey. Anyone 21 or older may buy and possess up to six ounces of cannabis or 17 grams of hash.
Medical use is permitted as well. Patients and caregivers must both register with the State. Registered patients can possess three ounces in a 30-day period.
New Jersey drug testing »
Adults 21 and over can possess up to two ounces of cannabis flower or 16 grams of concentrates in public. There is no specified limit, though, as to how much they have at home.
New Mexico drug testing »
Recreational use is legal in New York. Anyone 21 or older can possess up to three ounces of marijuana and 24 grams of concentrates.
Medicinal use is permitted as well for certain listed conditions. The statute requires a medicinal request must be accompanied by proof of a complicating condition such as severe chronic pain, nausea, or muscle spasms. Patients may have a 60-day supply at any time.
New York drug testing »
There is no provision in law for the recreational or medicinal use of marijuana. Although North Carolina is said to be a “decriminalized” state, the possession of less than .05 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by a $200 fine.
The state allows patients with intractable epilepsy to possess and consume CBD oil that contains less than 0.9% THC.
North Carolina drug testing »
No recreational uses are permitted. Medical use became permitted in November 2016 for specific medical conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, Glaucoma and Epilepsy.
North Dakota drug testing »
Recreational use of marijuana is illegal, but medical use is permitted. A state-issued patient identification card is an affirmative defense to marijuana possession charges incurred by medical marijuana patients. Patients may possess a 45-day supply from a licensed dispensary.
Ohio drug testing »
Recreational use of marijuana hasn’t been legalized in Oklahoma. However, medicinal marijuana is available to those who qualify under a list of qualifying conditions. Registered patients may possess up to three ounces of cannabis in public and eight ounces at home. In addition, they may possess up to one ounce of cannabis concentrates and 72 ounces of edible products.
Oklahoma drug testing »
The third state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana in Oregon has been legal since July 2015.
Oregon drug testing »
Medicinal marijuana is available for Pennsylvania residents with qualifying conditions. They must obtain a medical cannabis ID card in order to purchase and use the drug.
Recreational use remains illegal.
Pennsylvania drug testing »
While the recreational use of marijuana has been decriminalized, the medicinal use of marijuana has been legalized. In Rhode Island, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana (without medical permission) is a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $150.
Rhode Island drug testing »
Neither recreational nor medicinal marijuana use is legal in South Carolina. However, CBD products containing less than 0.9% THC were approved for use by patients suffering from a limited list of conditions back in 2014.
South Carolina drug testing »
Recreational and medicinal use of marijuana became legal for South Dakota residents who are aged 21 and older. Adults may possess up to one ounce of cannabis.
South Dakota drug testing »
Neither recreational nor medicinal marijuana use is legal in Tennessee. However, the state has approved the use of CBD products containing less than 0.9% THC.
Tennessee drug testing »
No recreational marijuana laws have been established in Texas. However, it does support a program that allows patients to use low-THC cannabis—not more than 0.5%—THC.
Possession penalties are stiff. Getting caught with even a small amount of the drug could result in severe criminal penalties.
Texas drug testing »
Medicinal marijuana became legal in Utah in 2018. It must be purchased from licensed dispensaries.
Utah drug testing »
Vermont recently legalize both medical and recreational marijuana. Recreational retail establishments are due to open before 2022 is out. Additionally, registered patients can possess up to two ounces of marijuana.
Both recreational and medicinal users can cultivate at home—within limits.
Vermont drug testing »
Virginia recently legalize recreational marijuana use, however, retail sales won’t get started until 2024. Adults 21 and over are permitted to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. Cultivating up to four plants per household is allowed as well.
Virginia drug testing »
Legal for both recreational and medicinal uses. However, while it is legal to possess and use marijuana, private cultivation is not allowed. On the other hand, with the permitted medicinal use of marijuana, patients may grow up to 15 plants.
Washington drug testing »
Medical marijuana patients in West Virginia must be registered with the Bureau of Health. They’re allowed to possess up to a 30-day supply which is determined on a case by case basis.
Recreational marijuana is legal, however, the laws are strict.
West Virginia drug testing »
Neither recreational nor medicinal marijuana use is legal in Wisconsin. However, cannabidiol (“CBD Oil”) is permitted for seizure disorders.
Wisconsin drug testing »
Marijuana remains fully illegal in Wyoming with no permitted recreational or medicinal uses, despite multiple legislative efforts. Residents may purchase and possess hemp-derived CBD oil that contains less than 0.3% THC.
Wyoming drug testing »