Weed Across America – Know Before You Go (Part 1 of 3)

Taking a cross country road trip with intentions of tasting bud across the states? It may not be as accessible as you think. While some states have decriminalized cannabis and others have made it available for adults to purchase pot, there are still strict regulations in many states that prohibit anything THC related.

Over the next few months, we’re breaking down the lay of the land in each state, as well as the District of Columbia, in this three-part series of Weed Across America – Know Before You Go, focusing on 17 states (DC included) per issue in alphabetical order.

Happy smoking! Or not.

Alabama – Kentucky, Bud 1

Alabama – Don’t slam on the brakes here. Nothing about weed is legal in this bible belt state. In fact, if you get caught you could face up to $6,000 in fines and a year in prison. If you’re suspected of selling it, you’re looking at up to $15,000 in fines and up to 10 years in jail. Yikes! Medicinally – low-dose THC CBD oil is available to patients suffering from severe conditions being treated by and referred by board certified neurologists at the University of Alabama’s Neurology department. Conditions include seizures; cachexia, or wasting syndrome; and severe or chronic pain, nausea or muscle spasms. There may be hope here though. In the works: A study commission is in place to discuss a medical marijuana bill, including draft legislation this month.

Alaska – It’s totes legal here, so grab some weed and watch some whales. Well…maybe from a store window. There are a couple of restrictions. It’s not allowed in state parks or on some private properties, and you really aren’t supposed to be blazing at the glaciers. If you’re 21 or older, you can buy and carry up to one ounce of bud, and you can give and receive up to an ounce for free. Edibles up to 10 mg are available for purchase and use at authorized retailers as well, but concentrates and alcohol can’t be consumed on site. “North to the Future” is the state’s motto, and it certainly lives up to its hype in the weed world.

Arizona – It’s not decriminalized, so the only high you should plan on here is the one you’ll get from climbing the Grand Canyon. But it’s approved medicinally. Patients with medical conditions such as cancer; HIV/AIDS; hepatitis C; glaucoma; MS; ALS; Crohn’s disease; Alzheimer’s; PTSD; severe and chronic pain, nausea, muscle spasms and seizures may all register and obtain a medicinal card, as well as appoint a caregiver to have the same rights. They can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Any patient living 25 miles or more away from a dispensary can cultivate marijuana and grow up to 12 plants. Concentrates, edibles, and other infused products are legal under the law as well. If you have an out-of-state registry identification card, Arizona will honor it for up to 30 days, but you can only use or possess it in the state – not get it. There may be hope in 2020 to bring adult use marijuana to the stage. The ballot initiative would make it legal for you to have up to one ounce of weed and up to five grams of concentrate; edibles and gummies would be capped at 10 mg (100 mg per pack) and can’t be in the form of people, worms, bears, fruits, toys, bears, etc. (and pretty much anything resembling kid friendliness). Clearly no Stoney Patch Kids would be sold here. Residential cultivation of up to six plants would be allowed as well. Those previously convicted of possessing up to two and a half ounces of weed or six or less plants or paraphernalia would be up for expungement, and some funds would be available to kickback to certain communities affected by prior prohibition. Stay tuned!

Arkansas – Cannabis is medically accepted here. Patients and caregivers may purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana or 71 grams every 14 days from one state-approved dispensary. A medical card is needed, and consumption is restricted to use in your home only. Have an out of state medical card? You’re in luck. It’s honored for dispensary purchases here. Qualified health conditions include ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia or wasting syndrome, cancer, Crohn’s disease, Fibromyalgia, Glaucoma, Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, Intractable pain, Peripheral neuropathy, PTSD, Tourette’s syndrome, severe arthritis and nausea, MS, seizures, and ulcerative colitis. 

California – It’s dreamy here as always. You can definitely hit the dispensaries on your visit. In case you haven’t heard by now – anyone 21 and older (or residents 18 or older with a valid physician’s recommendation or a medical marijuana identification card), can buy and carry up to one ounce of bud (eight ounces if you are using it medicinally) and up to eight grams of concentrated cannabis. This crowd can also grow and process up to six cannabis plants at home.  You’re not supposed to puff in public though! Cough, cough.

Colorado – This state is the mothership as far as Cannabis is concerned. You might want to move here, not just visit. Adults 21 and older can possess up to one ounce of THC. You’re not supposed to walk around smoking a joint here, but new bills set to take place in January 2020, will open things up quite a bit. HB-1230 will allow hospitality establishments like restaurants, and hotels to set aside areas for weed consumption (BYO style), while licensed marijuana retail stores will be able to sell small amounts for on-site consumption (tasting room style). Food establishments will also be able to apply for a Marijuana Hospitality Establishment license but will not be allowed to simultaneously have a liquor license. Another bill (HB-1234) will allow people to receive home delivery services, except for on college campuses. Two more major moves are HB-1090, which allows capital investment in cannabis businesses from publicly traded companies, and SB-13, which permits patients (including minors) to obtain a prescription from any type of physician for any condition that they could be prescribed prescription opiates. That’s huge.

Connecticut – The thought of driving through this state is cringing, but it’s because of the constant construction and traffic that’s so nerving, not necessarily their war on weed. In fact, in Connecticut, marijuana is decriminalized and medically legal. Residents only, including minors, can obtain a medical card if they are suffering from debilitating medical conditions, such as ones mentioned above under Arkansas. Caregivers are also allowed to register. Registered patients can purchase up to 2.5 ounces per month from designated dispensaries. For other state residents caught with weed, penalties for first and second offenses of possession of a half an ounce or less get slapped with fines of $150 to $500 (minors also may get their drivers license suspended for 60 days). Possession of more than a half an ounce is a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $2,000 and up to one year of jail time. Keep it under limits, and you’ll be alright.

Delaware – This tax-free state doesn’t allow recreational use, but possession is decriminalized, and medicinal cards can be obtained by state residents, including minors with parental approval. Patients may possess up to six ounces of marijuana and purchase from not-for-profit “compassion centers.” For all other adults found in possession of up to one ounce of marijuana – the fine is $100 for first time offense. Fines and jail time go up after that. Good thing it doesn’t take long to drive through this state.

District of Columbia – Stop here for more than a visit to the Capitol building. It’s fully legal, with some red tape of course. Hey, it’s DC – what else would we expect? Medicinally, the District’s registered medical ID patients, as well as those from a handful of approved states, can purchase weed at local dispensaries. Any other adults in DC can possess up to two ounces of cannabis and grow up to three mature, and three immature plants in their homes. The current caveat – if you don’t have a card, you can’t actually purchase weed anywhere in town. You must buy an item such as a garment, souvenir, or food for example, at a high-ticket price and then get your buds as a gift with purchase (for free). You can do this via home delivery, at select stores and at pop-events like shopping or food bazaars around town. The Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2019, is in the works, and was introduced to tax and regulate weed sales in the District. This would allow residents 21 and older to purchase up to two ounces of bud, infused products containing up to 1,000 mg of THC, and 10 grams of concentrate; and non-residents 21 and older to buy up to a ¼ ounce, up to 250 mg of THC and 2.5 grams.

Florida – The Sunshine State only allows medical purchase and usage, so don’t light up on the beach. Adult registered medical patients can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of bud every 35 days from dispensaries and may not possess more than four ounces at once or have a 70-day supply on hand. Conditions include ones like those listed above in other states. Patients under the age of 18 and terminal must get approval from two doctors to receive smokable cannabis, and minors must appoint an adult caregiver to obtain all other forms (oils, pills, sprays, edibles, etc.). While state laws don’t decriminalize weed possession, cities like Miami, Key West, Tampa, Orlando, West Palm Beach and Port Ritchie have given police permission to issue low-fine tickets instead of making arrests if you’re caught with roughly 20 grams or less. Word on the street is that there are more moves in the works for statewide decriminalization. We’ll see what next year brings.

Georgia – Stop here to see some Atlanta Housewives and eat some peaches, but not weed. This state is a CBD-only allowed one. Medical patients can get cannabis oil with no more than 5% THC from licensed dispensaries and pharmacies. Whomp, whomp. Similar to Florida, there are a handful of cities (Atlanta and Savannah included) who have opted to allow citations with low fines to be given in lieu of jail time.

Hawaii – Concentrate on getting lei’d here, not high – unless you have a medical card. Medicinally, Hawaii allows registered ID patients and caregivers to collectively possess four ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to 10 plants. If you’re registered in another medically approved state, you and your caregiver can possess up to four ounces of medical cannabis while visiting Hawaii. You’ll have to register with Hawaii’s medical cannabis program and won’t be allowed to do so for more than two, 60-day intervals in a 12-month period. You’ll be able to purchase weed from the state dispensaries, but can’t cultivate it, so don’t plan on planting any seeds here. Starting January 11, 2020, a new bill will allow for the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, making the possession of three grams or less punishable by a $130 fine. Believe it or not, this is an improvement from the current law, which punishes people possessing just a tiny amount of cannabis with 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and a criminal record.

Idaho – Potato, patoto – either way, there’s no smoking pot in this state. At all. There is, however, some boiling water in the pot. There’s a ballot initiative in the works for the 2020 election, via petition. If the petition gets just over 55,057 signatures throughout the state by April 30, 2020, the Idaho Medical Marijuana Act will be on the ballot – giving medical legalization a fighting chance. Patients would be able to possess up to four ounces of medical cannabis, appoint a caregiver, and possibly be approved to cultivate up to six marijuana plants in their homes. Fingers crossed!

Illinois – This state recently blew itself out of Lake Michigan when it announced it’s place as the 11th state in the country to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older and the first to approve legal sales through state legislature instead of way of a ballot by implementing the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA). Clap, clap! Starting January 1, 2020, Illinoisans will be able to possess and purchase 30 grams of cannabis, up to 500 mg of THC infused products, and five grams of concentrate. As a visitor to the state, you’ll be able to get half of those amounts. Not too shabby! Medical patients will also be able to grow up to five plants at home for personal use. (Currently registered patients can buy 2.5 ounces from dispensaries every two weeks.) Other cool implementations of the CRTA include options for cannabis cafes; automatic expungement for cannabis offenders (more than 700,00); and a social equity program which will directly benefit those who have been victims of the war on weed, giving them new business, education and financial opportunities.

Indiana – You may want to stop here for a Hoosiers game, but don’t plan on getting your weed game on. Plain and simple: You can buy, sell, or possess properly packaged and labeled hemp-derived CBD products containing less than 0.3% THC. That’s it.

Iowa – This state may be our country’s third largest agricultural producer, but cannabis plants aren’t even close to being grown on the farm. Instead, Iowa has a medicinal, low THC cannabis program. Residents and appointed caregivers with one of a handful of qualifying debilitating conditions and a written certification from a physician, can purchase cannabis oil containing up to 0.3% from a designated dispensary. If you’re just here for a visit, and are registered in your home state’s CBD program, consider yourself a BYO patient. You can possess and consume it here, but can’t make purchases. Recently, the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board approved a recommendation to change the 0.3% limit to 4.5 grams of THC-containing products over a 90-day period. It’s not official yet.

Kansas – You won’t want to be in Kansas any longer than Dorothy thought she wasn’t. Residents, however, must have clicked their heals because this state got lucky with their new governor (Gov. Laura Kelly). She supports medical marijuana and recently signed a bill that currently allows profoundly ill people who have been unable to find relief with pharmaceutical medications to avoid prosecution for possessing certain blends of oil extracted from cannabis plants, containing up to 5% THC. Hey – it’s a start, at least. If she stays in office….this could be a big win for Kansas.

Kentucky – So……you can grow hemp here, and possess and purchase CBD products, but they must not contain any percentage of TCH. Zero. That stinks. There was an almost-unanimous winning vote on a medical cannabis bill by the Judiciary committee in March, but unfortunately the House adjourned without acting on the bill. Total BS. Hopefully 2020 will be a better year here. Until then – there’s the Derby.

It’s always important to check current local laws of each state before going, of course. Medical conditions are not limited to the ones mentioned above. And don’t forget to bring your ID – you’ll need that if you want to make pot purchases. Expect high taxes too. Sales and excise taxes add up to almost 40% in some states. Next up in the January issue: Louisiana to North Dakota.

Happy travels.

* Just wanted to give a shout out to the Marijuana Policy Project for providing us with a foundation of facts for this story. We’re down with MPP.