The United States finds itself in this strange period regarding cannabis legality. In one state, you can walk into a dispensary and buy whatever strain of cannabis you’d like without any second thought.
In another state, being caught with just a gram can send you to jail. Many are pressing President Biden for federal legalization to end such injustices. Even more, the nation overwhelmingly agrees the president should at least decriminalize cannabis on a federal level. But with little efforts made by the Biden administration, the United States continues to find itself in this strange limbo of cannabis laws. Throughout this article, we’ll look at the states with the strangest and most absurd cannabis laws.
Admittedly, most of the laws discussed will concern cannabis possession and the legal consequences in varying states. In the United States, these are where cannabis laws become most absurd, with many currently in jail simply for having a few grams of marijuana on them.Luckily, within the last decade, states haven’t legalized it; they have at least decriminalized it. In other words, while cannabis possession remains illegal in many parts of the country, it only comes with a misdemeanor charge. Many states still hold on to century-old propaganda and thoroughly do anything in their power to keep cannabis prohibition alive. In other states, you may find more progressive views but notice aspects of their laws that make no sense.
If you’re from Vermont, you’re likely questioning why your state made this list. Medical cannabis has been legal since 2004, with recreational cannabis being legalized in 2018.Admittedly, Vermont didn’t take the route of other states, setting up an industry to allow recreational sales. But this can be forgiven, considering the law was updated in 2020.What’s so strange about Vermont’s cannabis laws is they’ve legalized recreational cannabis yet, at the same time, have banned delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).For those who don’t know, delta-8 THC holds a similar chemical makeup to delta-9 THC, the very cannabinoid in marijuana that gets you “high.” However, delta-8 is made from cannabidiol (CBD), federally legal in the United States.Therefore, delta-8 THC is technically federally legal.
But since it provides users with a “high,” many states have gone out of their way to make production and possession illegal.You’ll find illegality in states you’d expect to, such as Idaho, Iowa, and North Dakota. But you also find it illegal in places you don’t expect to, such as Vermont.Admittedly, Vermont is not alone in this strange illegality – Alaska, Colorado, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington have banned delta-8, despite having legalized recreational cannabis.According to Vermont, the state has made delta-8 THC illegal because it doesn’t follow hemp production regulations. More notably, incorporating synthetic processes into manufacturing
Florida’s marijuana laws aren’t the harshest in the United States. Possession of 20 grams or less is a misdemeanor punishable with up to 1-year incarceration and a max fine of $1,000. However, any more than 20 grams is a felony with consequences of up to 5 years imprisonment and $5,000.Still, Florida has a medical program that allows people in need of marijuana to access it. Admittedly, the list of qualifying conditions for Florida’s program is slim, making it one of the more difficult states to access medical cannabis.
But what sets Florida apart from other states is how much they’ve tampered with medical marijuana laws. Initially, flower was completely forbidden – with only the sale of edibles, capsules, and other digestible being legal. This ban has been lifted, but all products remain at a 10mg THC cap per serving.Indeed, this THC cap isn’t going to stop someone from consuming more than the “recommended serving size.” Especially considering that you can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis in Florida every 35 days.So, why it exists doesn’t make much sense. But it’s there alongside other restrictions, such as that cannabis toppings and coloring are forbidden.
Regarding possession charges, Idaho’s a bit more lenient than those found in Florida. A possession misdemeanor results in the same consequences (1-year incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000), but the key difference is you get charged this up to 3 ounces.Still, Idaho remains one of the most authoritarian states regarding cannabis, most notably because they refuse to incorporate a medical cannabis program, even though many in the state have advocated for such.However, even stranger is Idaho’s strict rules against hemp and CBD. Truckers delivering the product couldn’t even go through the state for the longest time as they banned it after federal legalization.
Since then, Idaho has allowed CBD products only if they contain no THC. To give perspective, the federal government allows up to 0.3% THC in CBD products (notably because hemp naturally has minor amounts of the cannabinoid).Luckily, it’s easy to remove THC from a CBD product, and many CBD brands actively do so. But Idaho’s laws only get harsher as you read on, as they only allow CBD to be removed from specific parts of the hemp plant.In turn, many CBD brands simply don’t ship to Idaho. Making it one of the few states in the U.S. where it’s difficult to find such products.
Alabama has strict laws concerning cannabis. To begin, there is no discretion between what’s considered a “personal amount” of cannabis and what’s “more than a personal amount of cannabis.” Yet, even without this discretion, one comes with a misdemeanor charge and the other a felony.Ultimately, it’s up to the court to decide whether or not you’re in possession of a personal amount of cannabis. If so, you’re still facing difficult charges – up to 1-year incarceration and a fine of up to $6,000.
If the court finds you’re not in possession of a personal amount (in other words, you’re likely selling it), you’re charged with a felony – up to 10 years incarceration and a fine of up to $15,000.Either way, in Alabama, you’re screwed. But even more so, the fact that no strict limit on how much cannabis is considered a “personal amount” makes everyone smoking the stuff at risk of a felony.Alabama does have a medical marijuana program, but the details of this make it one of the least desirable in the United States. For one, cannabis flower is strictly forbidden. Secondly, on medically legal products, you’re only allowed up to 70 doses at 50mg for your first 90-day period. You’re allowed 70 doses at any given time, but more than that is considered illegal.
Texas is one of those U.S. states many love to hate. While Lone Star State has a lot regarding growth and economics, it falls short on many progressive issues. And cannabis may just be one of the hottest of these issues.Regarding cannabis possession, laws are stricter than in other states but not the worst in the country. Possession of up to 2 ounces is a Class B misdemeanor that can result in 180 days of incarceration and a fine of up to $2,000. Even if you have up to 4 ounces, the result remains a misdemeanor (Class A) with higher penalties.Still, what sets Texas apart is its confusion regarding medical marijuana and CBD.To begin with, medical marijuana is legal in Texas, but the qualifying conditions are strict. Even if you have a medical card, you can only purchase products with 1% THC.1%! To give you perspective, most cannabis has anywhere from 15% to 20% THC, with many strains coming out that have more than 30%.On top of this, Texas has had a string of controversies concerning its CBD industry. From attempting to ban hemp flower to delta-8 THC. Luckily, these controversies have seemed to pass, but only due to cannabis activists in the state continually fighting for their rights.
Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list of which states are worse off with cannabis than others. For example, Arkansas is not featured here but certainly has stricter cannabis laws than Vermont.The purpose of this list wasn’t to be comprehensive. It was to give you a deeper look into the confusion that is cannabis in the United States.With so many varying rules and regulations, you can only be sure what’s legal within your state. When traveling to other states, everything remains up in the air.
Federal legalization would circumvent this confusion and provide a clear nationwide regulation layout. But this would also cause two issues:•Hinder currently-established cannabis markets in legalized states•Allow states to continue prohibiting cannabis (as we saw some states did when hemp andCBD were legalized)It will take time for all public perceptions to change (for the better) concerns with cannabis. However, when it does, that’s when we’ll finally see reasonable state-by-state laws