Most states in the US that have legal access to cannabis have granted it to valid medical marijuana patients only. As of April 12, 2021, 18 states plus Washington, DC and Guam have legalized recreational marijuana. About two dozen states plus Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, by contrast, have a legal medical marijuana program, but each state’s program varies considerably in terms of access, qualifying conditions, and type of products available.
Learn more about recreational cannabis legalization by browsing through the sections below.
Rec vs. MMJ: age restrictions
You can also try our Virtual Budtender tool, which is a quick and easy guide that narrows down strain options based on how you answer a few brief questions about the experience you want.
Medical marijuana patients are often exempt from paying certain additional taxes that are leveed on cannabis products in recreational markets. For example, in Seattle, Washington, recreational customers must pay a combined 10.1% sales tax on their purchases (6.5% state sales and use tax rate, plus 3.6% local/county tax) while valid medical marijuana patients do not.
At either store type, you’re bound to find the shelves full of various edibles, drinkables, vaporizers, topicals, strains, and concentrates. Some state medical marijuana laws, however, may restrict the form factor allowed to patients, so certain products—like smokable flower—may be unavailable to them.
For parents of color and parents of older teenagers, legalization for people over 21 comes as a positive good in a time where young adults can have their entire careers, lives, and educational futures derailed if they’re caught with a gram of weed on them.
Still, like any substance, it’s important that if you live in a state that has now or recently legalized marijuana to keep anything safely locked, stored, and out of sight and reach of your children. It’s also important to, just like alcohol, not partake in the drugs around your children, because of the mental, emotional, and social effects, along with the unknown physical health effects.
It feels almost impossible to read the news these days and not see a story about a state legalizing marijuana. At the end of March in 2021, New York State joined the list of states with legal weed, and New Mexico’s legalization laws went into effect less than a month ago. The full impact of these laws will not be immediate — but major changes are on the way.
States Where Adult Recreational Use of Marijuana Is Legal
But it does seem that prohibition tends to be an inadequate public health response to drug use, and that legalization and decriminalization can help both remove the taboo of a drug, increase the amount of research put into the safety of that drug, and help people access that drug at a lower risk, as they’re honestly going to buy it no matter how legal or illegal it is. Research has shown time and time again that increasing safe access to potentially harmful substances, rather than restricting access and imprisoning those struggling with substance abuse issues, can help reduce the risk of death, sickness, and addiction.
And then there’s the money. Part of the reason voters like legalizing weed is the demonstrated impact it can have on the economy. After Colorado legalized weed, the state gave the tax dollars from weed sales to their public school systems to the tune of $160 million in the first five years. The states that are joining Colorado can expect to see a similar economic boom from the legalized, taxed, and regulated sale of the drug.
A handful of other states across the country have already legalized and decriminalized the drug for recreational and medical use, suggesting that voters have changed their minds about whether marijuana is a gateway drug and whether people deserve to go to jail for possessing it.
And the dominoes are falling. In late February, New Jersey legislators passed the laws that will govern the legal sale of marijuana for adult use in the Garden State. The legislation came after voters overwhelmingly passed a referendum last November , as did their peers in four other states.
You will probably find those monikers more entertaining than useful. That’s why every dispensary worth its salt employs staff that can tell you exactly what each strain will do to you.
The federal government and states have bickered over legalization for years, which makes credit card companies leery of running afoul of federal law by facilitating sales. Because of this, nearly all dispensaries have an ATM on the premises. Debit card usage may also be permitted.
Know the difference between THC and CBD.
Be careful if you smoke in a hotel.
A binder or a menu that explains the various strains and blends might be on hand. The names tend to sound like ice cream flavors or groovy racehorses—Wedding Cake, Moonstone Kush, Cherry Bomb, Happy Pineapple, Pink Glue, and so on.