State Laws

State Marijuana Laws

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
DC
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachussetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

All drug-related offenses in the United States are handled by the Controlled Substances Act. The Controlled Substances Act does not define any difference between marijuana usage for recreational or medical use. All those within the nation's borders will be charged with offenses but will vary according to cultivation offenses, possession offenses, and distribution offenses. The severity of an offense will be determined through the amount of marijuana at the time of the charge.

Federal law requires that marijuana offenses be treated equally to cocaine, heroin, or any other controlled substance offenses. Each controlled substance, including marijuana, is classified through the government according to its addictive qualities. Marijuana currently is classified as a Schedule I drug and is thus deemed very addictive and without medical worth.

Medical Use
Under federal law physician may not "prescribe" the use of marijuana to a patient for medical purposes. However physician may "recommend" that a patient use marijuana for treatment, which is covered under the Constitution's First Amendment. Because using marijuana is illegal at a federal level, the Drug Enforcement Administration enforces usage regulations for marijuana caregivers and patients. This administration ensures that only certain amounts of marijuana are possessed at one time and only a certain number of mature plants are possessed at one time.

Only seventeen states allow marijuana for medical purposes; however the number of mature plants and the amount an individual may possess depends on state laws. States with medical marijuana laws include Washington, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Jersey. States with decriminalizing marijuana laws include Minnesota, Nebraska, Mississippi, Ohio, North Carolina, New York, and Massachusetts. States that have both medical and decriminalizing laws include Alaska, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, and Maine.

Charges
Violators will be charged with marijuana offenses if amount regulations are broken, despite having a physician's recommendation. Marijuana offenses can earn fines between one hundred dollars and hundreds of thousands of dollars and imprisonments between a few months and life of prison. Probation, mandatory substance treatment, and community service may also be included in sentencing.

The federal government has determined that marijuana for medical reasons cannot be used as a defense in court. Whenever an individual violates marijuana laws, he or she will be charged, according to federal law, regardless of physician permission. There are currently two forms of sentencing and are based on the 1986 drug bill and the 1987 sentencing commission. These regulations require that prior marijuana offenses be taken into account in a current marijuana offense. Violators will also have their charges increased if sales were to a minor or on school property.

Federal versus State
In 2005 the Supreme Court stated that the federal government does not view marijuana as a medicine. This means that the federal government may arrest an individual even if he or she resides in a legal state and is within his or her amount requirements. This is in conflict with the seventeen states that allow marijuana for medical purposes. However federal law does not require these states to prosecute certified users. The state law versus federal law conflict is currently being resolved by the Food and Drug Administration and Congress.