Posted on: December 16, 2016 at 3:59 pm
Last updated: September 25, 2017 at 6:43 pm

California’s prop.64 measure allows adults older than twenty-one to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes. This reflects the changing attitudes of the nation. States are getting more behind decriminalization, medical marijuana, and recreational use. But the laws when it comes to marijuana are complicated, as federally, it is still prohibited. States have taken it upon themselves to legislate in accordance with their residents’ sensibilities. More than twenty states now have laws that reflect changing attitudes towards marijuana in America. Depending on where you live, your days of sneaking around might be behind you.


After all, marijuana is the most popular illicit drug in the world. Why shouldn’t laws begin reflecting that? But the question remains, how to navigate the legal framework that dictates marijuana use. The federal government and the states are at odds when it comes to this issue. Some have legalized its use while others have kept it as a prohibited substance. But attitudes are definitely changing.


Recreational use

These are the states where recreational marijuana use is legal, or is legal but not in effect yet (2).

  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Colorado
  • Nevada
  • California
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Alaska

Medicinal use

And these are the states where just medical marijuana is legal (2).

  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
  • Connecticut
  • Rhode Island
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Maryland
  • Delaware
  • Ohio
  • Michigan
  • Illinois
  • Arkansas
  • Louisiana
  • Florida
  • New Mexico
  • Arizona
  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • Minnesota

It’s plain to see that marijuana’s days of being an illegal substance are numbered. More states have created recreational marijuana laws and the states who don’t allow medical marijuana are less and less. But if you are going to be using marijuana in (any state) there are a few things you should know.

Do’s and Don’ts: 6 Rules

1. Transporting marijuana

marijuana laws america

Just because recreational use has been legalized in a few states doesn’t mean there are no rules relating to its use. First and foremost, driving while intoxicated from marijuana is illegal and shall remain illegal. But what if you are transporting marijuana while you drive, what then? In California, it is illegal to possess open marijuana or marijuana products for both drivers and passengers. But In Nevada, your passenger is allowed to be intoxicated as long as you remain sober. And in Massachusetts, it’s illegal to possess an open marijuana container in a motorized vehicle, unless it’s behind the last upright seat in your car or area not occupied by the driver (1).

2. Marijuana at school

Because universities, both private and public, receive federal money, smoking anywhere on campus is prohibited. Just because the state your university is in legalized recreational marijuana doesn’t mean your school did (1).

3. Not on the job

Smoking at work can still get you fired. Because of the federal laws on marijuana, your employer can still fire you or deny you a job based on your marijuana use. However, in Maine, there is a law that expressly says that employers can’t penalize a person solely for that person’s consuming marijuana outside of the employer’s property (1).

4. Not in certain homes

Even if you live in a state where recreational marijuana is legal, if you live in federally subsidized housing, you can be evicted or denied housing for using marijuana (1).

5. Lock it up

marijuana legal status

If you are going to be growing your marijuana, there are rules about how it is stored. In some states, you must have your plants protected by a lock, and in others, it must be secured out of sight from the public. Meaning you can’t grow anywhere that anyone can see as they are passing by your home (1).

6. Do not sell it

Another rule about growing your own is that you can’t sell it. You can give small amounts of it away, but that process cannot be advertised or promoted (Nevada, Massachusetts) (1).

But what does all this mean for the community? Proponents of marijuana use often cite a litany of benefits and reasons why it should be legal. Check out just a few of them for yourself:

Health benefits

According to the National Eye Institute, marijuana may help reduce pressure in the eyeball caused by glaucoma, which may slow the progression of the disease and prevent blindness (3).

Another benefit is that marijuana use has been shown to reduce the incidence of seizures in those with epilepsy. A study done on rats in 2003, showed that epileptic rats went without seizures for ten hours after being administered marijuana (4).

Another amazing aspect of marijuana use is that it may prevent cancer from spreading. This is due to another cannabinoid other than THC, known as CBD. This cannabinoid stops cancer by turning off a gene called Id-1 (5).

Marijuana may even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. In a 2006 study published in the Journal of Molecular Pharmaceutics, It was found that THC ( the active chemical in marijuana) slows the formation of amyloid plaques by blocking the enzyme in the brain that makes them. These plaques are what kills brain cells and lead to the disease (6).

Whatever your reasons for using marijuana, depending on where you live, it may become way easier to do so. Even though the federal government still prohibits marijuana, that may start to matter very little as more and more states move for legalization. It seems as though it’s only a matter of time before the United States has unfettered accessed to marijuana and can reap the benefits.

(1) Stat. So your state just legalized marijuana: 6 things to know Published: November 9, 2016. Accessed: December 14, 2016.

(2) Governing. State Marijuana Laws in 2016 Map Accessed: December 14, 2016.

(3) Business Insider. 23 Health Benefits of Marijuana Published: April 20, 2014. Accessed: December 14, 2016.

(4) VCU News. Marijuana and its receptor protein in brain control epilepsy Published: September 30, 2003. Accessed: December 14, 2016.

(5) The Huffington Post. Marijuana and Cancer: Scientists Find Cannabis Compound Stops Metastasis in Aggressive Cancers Published: September 19, 2012. Accessed: December 14, 2016.

(6) Molecular pharmaceutics. A molecular link between the active component of marijuana and Alzheimer’s disease pathology Published: 2006. Accessed: December 14, 2016.

(7) Youtube. Health benefits of marijuana Published: April 6, 2011. Accessed: December 14, 2016.

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