It seems bizarre to think that laws surrounding something that grows naturally could be so complicated. Well, welcome to the United States of America! It is often times the land of utter confusion and home of ‘marijuana is legal here but not two miles away.’
The fact is, marijuana is still federally illegal, but it is legal to use recreationally in nine states plus D.C, and 20 more states enable you to use it for medicinal purposes.
However, the federal government could theoretically burst into a California dispensary and arrest everyone in sight, though this is incredibly unlikely – especially based on statements in recent years that have basically said state MMJ programs will not be tampered with.
Regardless, everything is still a little confusing. You can currently buy weed openly in one state for fun, use it for a medical condition in another (with a valid MMJ card), or have no chance of smoking it legally at all in some states.
With such a bizarre list of cannabis laws which vary in every single state, it is hardly a surprise that would-be marijuana growers don’t know what the hell is going on. In this state-by-state guide, we aim to make the waters less muddy and outline the states where you can grow weed, and the maximum amount of plants you can cultivate.
[Please note that we have only covered states where it is legal to grow marijuana – even in some states with medical marijuana programs, personal cultivation is prohibited. None of the information in this article should be used for unlawful growing purposes].
Marijuana is legal for recreational use in the state of Alaska, and was legalized for this purpose via Measure 2 in November 2014, winning with 53.23% of the vote. You can grow 12 plants in a household as long as the households consists of two adults aged 21 or over. Otherwise (i.e. if there are children present), one adult can cultivate six plants including a maximum of three mature cannabis plants. If you have a commercial license, though, here is no cultivation limit.
Weed is legal in Arizona for medical use only, and Proposition 203 scraped through in November 2010 with 50.13% of the vote. If you are an MMJ holder, you can cultivate up to a dozen plants as long as you live more than 25 miles from your nearest dispensary. Also, a designated caregiver is allowed to grow the plants for you if you are incapable of doing so.
The most populous state in the country finally legalized marijuana for recreational use in January 2018 after Proposition 64 passed with a 57% share of the vote. You are allowed to grow a maximum of six cannabis plants in the Golden State (no medical license required), but they must be grown in a locked private residence which can’t be seen by the public.
Colorado was the second state to legalize weed for recreational use via Amendment 64, which came into effect in December 2012. Adults aged 21+ are allowed to grow three mature and three immature plants privately in a locked space.
Hawaii was the first state to legalize medical marijuana via state legislature back in June 2000. You are only allowed to grow a maximum of seven mature plants, and you have to be an MMJ cardholder.
Cannabis has had a rich and varied history in the state of Maine. It was one of the first to prohibit the herb in 1913, but was also one of the first to decriminalize it in the modern era in 1976. Marijuana was legalized for medicinal use in 1999, and then in 2016, it became legal for recreational use after Question 1 passed. In Maine, you can grow a maximum of six plants at home, but the state also issues commercial licenses.
Marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts in 2016 when Question 4 passed with 54% of the vote. Each household is permitted to grow six plants, but the maximum increases to 12 if there is more than one adult in the house. However, your plants cannot be visible from the street. You can store up to ten ounces of dry herb at home.
Marijuana was legalized in Michigan in 2008 for medical purposes, but it is only available to acute and terminally ill patients. As an MMJ cardholder, you can grow up to 12 plants in a private and enclosed space; your caregiver is also legally allowed to cultivate if you are unable to grow them yourself. You have to register with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to grow weed in Michigan.
Weed was legalized for medicinal use in Montana in 2004. If you are a registered cardholder, you are allowed to grow a maximum of 12 plants, including four mature plants. Your caregiver can also grow cannabis for you, but only if they don’t charge you for the service. Incidentally, growing marijuana at home without a license in Montana is classified as a felony, with a possible prison term of up to 10 years.
Cannabis was legalized for medicinal use in November 2000, and Nevada pulled the trigger and allowed it to become legal for recreational use in November 2016 when Question 2 passed with 54% of the vote. Adults are allowed to grow a maximum of six plants as long as they live more than 25 miles away from a dispensary.
Marijuana has been legalized in New Mexico for medicinal use since April 2007. If you have an MMJ card, you or your caregiver can grow up to 16 plants at a time; including a maximum of four mature plants.
Oklahoma is one of the most recent states to legalize weed for medical use, but it will probably be late 2019 at the earliest before the program is operational. State Question 788 was approved by voters in June 2018, and applications are supposed to open up August 2018. At the time of writing, the state is still drafting its new marijuana laws and there doesn’t appear to be a provision for home growing at present.
Marijuana has been legal recreationally in Oregon since 2014 when Measure 91 was approved. From July 2015, residents of the state were able to grow four marijuana plants at home, but you have to be aged 21 or over. According to NORML, Oregon residents are now allowed to grow a maximum of six mature marijuana plants along with 18 immature seedlings.
Although weed has been legal for medical use in Rhode Island since 2006, it is only available to patients who suffer from one of a specific list of conditions including HIV/AIDS, cancer, and glaucoma. Qualifying medical patients are allowed to grow a maximum of 12 plants. It is also legal for caregivers to cultivate. All marijuana plants must be grown indoors.
Medical marijuana was legalized in Vermont after Senate Bill 76 passed in May 2004. It became the first state legislature to legalize weed for recreational use in January 2018 with the law taking effect from July 2018. Residents of Vermont are now allowed to grow a maximum of nine marijuana plants; only two of which can be mature.
Washington has the distinction of being the first state to legalize marijuana recreationally. Washington Initiative 502 made it possible, and the law came into effect on December 6, 2012, just four days ahead of Colorado. However, only medical patients are allowed to cultivate weed at home.
You have to be entered in Washington state’s voluntary patient database to grow a maximum of six plants. You can possess a maximum of eight ounces of useable cannabis that comes from these plants.
Weed became legal for recreational use in D.C. in 2014 via Initiative 71. Adults aged 21+ are allowed to grow six cannabis plants at home, but you can’t sell them for profit. If there is more than one adult in a household, a maximum of 12 plants can be grown with a maximum of six mature plants.
Final Thoughts: State-by-State Laws for Growing Marijuana
You can only legally grow marijuana plants at home in the states listed above. If you attempt to grow weed in states where it is against the law, expect severe penalties. This is also the case if you illegally try to grow cannabis plants in states where only MMJ cardholders are allowed to do so.
Take Georgia for example. Marijuana is entirely illegal, even for medicinal use. If you are caught growing a pound of weed, you could receive a prison sentence of up to 10 years. If you cultivate more than 10 pounds, the maximum sentence rises to 30 years!
Lastly, although growing marijuana at home is convenient and fun, please check your state’s laws before you even think about proceeding. It isn’t worth ruining your life for the thrill of trying to grow four or five plants in your basement apartment.