Marijuana policy is nothing if not complicated.
A patchwork of laws governs its use, possession and sale. Federally, it’s illegal. But some states have decriminalized the drug, removing criminal penalties for possession of small amounts. Some have allowed its distribution and sale for medical use. And, in Washington or Colorado, you can walk into any appropriately credentialed dispensary and buy it legally.
Oregon, Alaska and D.C. could soon join that pair of states in allowing recreational sales, if voters approve ballot proposals this fall. And a number of cities—two in Maine and about a dozen in Michigan—will consider proposals to liberalize pot laws locally, too. As our colleague Marc Fisher wrote in a piece this weekend: “[I]n the hazy world of marijuana law — an alternate reality in which two U.S. states have declared the substance legal even as it remains banned under federal law — nothing is simple.”
In an effort to add some clarity, our colleagues Denise Lu and Ted Mellnik put together the following guide to the state of marijuana policy in the states. Here are descriptions of its color-coding system:
- Orange signifies a legalization measure is on the November ballot.
- Dark green signifies sale of the drug is legal for recreational use.
- Light green signifies that possession of the drug in small amounts has been decriminalized.
- Gray signifies that medical marijuana can be purchased and used to treat a variety of medical conditions, such as pain and nausea.