State Medical Marijuana Laws

- Jun 27, 2019-

In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, making the Golden State the first in the union to allow for the medical use of marijuana. Since then, 33 more states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands have enacted similar laws. As of June 25, 2019, 14 states and territories have approved adult-use cannabis. As of Jan. 22, 2018, the Vermont legislature passed adult-use legalization legislation and the governor signed the bill. The measure does NOT set up a regulatory system for sales or production. See text of measure below.

A total of 34 states, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands have approved a comprehensive, publicly available medical marijuana/cannabis programs.  (See Table 1 below for more info.) Approved efforts in 12 states allow use of "low THC, high cannabidiol (CBD)" products for medical reasons in limited situations or as a legal defense. See Table 2 below for more information about those programs. Low-THC programs are not counted as comprehensive medical marijuana programs. NCSL uses criteria similar to other organizations tracking this issue to determine if a program is "comprehensive": 

  1. Protection from criminal penalties for using marijuana for a medical purpose;

  2. Access to marijuana through home cultivation, dispensaries or some other system that is likely to be implemented;

  3. It allows a variety of strains or products, including those with more than "low THC;" and

  4. It allows either smoking or vaporization of some kind of marijuana products, plant material or extract, and 

  5. Is not a limited trial program.  (South Dakota and Nebraska have limited, trial programs that are not open to the public.)