What to Know About Where You Can and Can’t Smoke

Not too long ago, marijuana was universally treated as an illegal drug. Thanks to better education about the plant, more places have been legalizing or at least decriminalizing it. However, there’s still a long way to go toward widespread legalization. This guide will give you the rundown you need about where smoking is and isn’t permissible.

Where It’s Completely Legal

There are 11 states where you can purchase marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes. They are Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. These states tend to allow usage of medical marijuana to those 18 and older, but those who wish to purchase recreational marijuana must be 21 and older. Dispensaries have become one-stop shops for anyone of legal age who’s interested in trying marijuana. However, keep in mind that just because marijuana is legal in some states doesn’t mean you can’t be fired if your drug test comes back positive.


Many states have decriminalized marijuana, which sounds similar to legalization but is actually fairly different. Decriminalization can include removing all penalties for possession and usage as the aforementioned 11 states did, but it can also include what Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Dakota, and Ohio have done. These states don’t exactly allow marijuana, but they let people possess a little without fear of criminal prosecution, turning possession of small amounts into an infraction—similar to a traffic violation. It’s still wise to make sure you’re clear about exactly what decriminalization constitutes in each jurisdiction. Some cities have decriminalization laws that don’t conform to the state’s laws.

Medical Marijuana Only

A big win for marijuana advocacy was getting medical marijuana legalized in various states. Starting in California, this has spread to 32 other states. Usage is allowed on a doctor-approved basis for conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, anxiety, and HIV/AIDS. However, just because you obtained your medical marijuana legally from one state doesn’t mean you’ll have the same experience in another state. Thankfully, with the majority of states allowing for medical marijuana, your odds of finding a state that allows it are pretty good.

Places Where It’s Still Illegal

Even with more states deciding to allow marijuana or at least be less severe about the penalties, there are still 11 that just aren’t having it, medicinal or otherwise. Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Wyoming have kept it illegal, although there are some decriminalization rulings in Nebraska and North Carolina. Around the country, many inmates are sentenced for drug charges, even minor ones. A marijuana charge could land you in hot water if you’re in the wrong place.

When it comes to smoking, using discretion is wise. You never want to assume that a place you’re visiting is all right with it or that the penalty for having it on you will be minor. The day may come when marijuana is legal throughout the country—or even worldwide—but for now, caution should be exercised.

Marijuana is still illegal in many states and some states are less tolerant than others if they catch you with it. For more information, we recommend reading this article next!

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