With the legality of marijuana constantly shifting across these grand ol’ states of the USA, it can indeed be tough trying to keep up with laws from one individual state to the next. And of course, even though the old school “pothead stereotypes” and associated stigmas have largely been dissipating with a more progressive, forward-thinking U.S. population, you can certainly still get busted with weed if you’re not careful, and/or if you don’t know the exact laws in the state that you’re in.
In this article, we talk about what states medical marijuana is NOT legal in — we all know that the likes of Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, etc are veritable marijuana “safe havens,” but unfortunately the same cannot be said for the rest of the country – or even for nearby, bordering states.
What States is Marijuana Not Legal In?
At the time of this writing (early fall 2018), marijuana is currently legal for medicinal purposes in 31 states, plus Washington D.C.
Of course, this means that medical marijuana is NOT legal in 19 states. Without further ado, here are the 19 U.S. states that currently have no laws in place for the medicinal use of cannabis:
- North Carolina*^
- South Carolina^
- South Dakota
^ CBD-only laws are in place
* Marijuana has been decriminalized to some extent
Of course, you will notice that there is an asterisk or carrot next to the majority of these states where marijuana is NOT medically (or recreationally) legal. In states that are marked with a carrot (^), this means that there are CBD laws in place that allow for individuals with certain qualifying medical conditions to purchase CBD oil upon the recommendation of a qualifying physician.
In states that are marked with an asterisk (*), this denotes that some degree of marijuana decriminalization has taken place. In other words, if you get caught with weed in one of these states, you are more likely to get hit with a fine rather than actually get arrested and go to jail and/or prison.
Of course, the punishment will depend entirely on how much pot you get caught with – most decriminalization laws are only effective for possession amounts of less than ¼ oz. Anything more than that and you still could very likely get arrested, and potentially even serve jail time.
Lastly, you’ll also notice that Idaho, Kansas, and South Dakota are the only three states left in the U.S. that haven’t adopted ANY sort of cannabis-related legislation. In terms of progressive thinking (or out-and-out common sense, however you want to describe it), these states are still living in the proverbial dark ages and to be quite honest, need to step it up and get their head’s out of their you-know-what’s.
[The state of Oklahoma recently voted to approve the implementation of a medical marijuana program, but nothing is operational yet. For information on the current status of medical marijuana in Oklahoma, check out our up-to-date guide right here].
So What Happens if you Get Caught With Weed in a Non-Legalized State?
Wanna know what happens if you get caught with marijuana in a state where it’s not legal? Well, surprise surprise – you get arrested!
In all seriousness though, even in states where marijuana is not medically (or recreationally) legal, you’ll find that the mindset of a lot of people (including police officers and other authorities) has softened drastically in terms of their outlook on weed.
While thousands of people are still getting arrested and hit with small-time misdemeanors every single day for possession of negligible amounts of pot, statistics are showing that fewer people overall are serving jail time.
“While thousands of people are still getting arrested and hit with small-time misdemeanors, statistics are showing that fewer people are serving [marijuana-related] jail time.”
However, this by NO means implies that, if caught with weed in a state where it’s illegal, you should expect to NOT get arrested. In fact, as sad as it is to say, the total annual arrests for marijuana possession still exceed the total amount of annual arrests for all violent crimes in the U.S. combined.
Of the 19 states where marijuana is not currently medically legal, here is a breakdown of how much possession it takes to get slapped with a felony charge:
- Alabama: more than 35.27 oz (that’s for a first-time offense, though. If you get caught on a second offense, you can – and likely will – get hit with a felony for ANY possession amount).
- Georgia: more than 1 oz
- Idaho: more than 3 oz
- Indiana: more than 1.05 oz (or ANY amount for a second offense)
- Iowa: ALL felony charges have been lifted (all marijuana possession is considered a misdemeanor)
- Kansas: ANY amount of possession will result in a felony on second offense (all first-offense charges are misdemeanors)
- Kentucky: more than 8 oz
- Mississippi: more than 1.05 oz
- Missouri: more than 1.23 oz
- Nebraska: more than 16 oz
- North Carolina: more than 1.5 oz
- South Carolina: more than 1 oz
- South Dakota: more than 2 oz
- Tennessee: more than ½ oz
- Texas: more than 4 oz
- Utah: more than 16 oz
- Virginia: ALL felony charges have been lifted
- Wisconsin: ANY amount (but you can only get charged with a felony on second offense)
- Wyoming: more than 3 oz
As you can see, some states out there still have super tough laws in place for even small amounts of marijuana possession. Just look at Tennessee, for instance – you can get hit with a felony for possession of as little as HALF AN OUNCE of pot! Some people burn through this amount in almost a single day!
And actually, what a lot of people don’t realize is that even in states where weed is medically (or even recreationally) legal, you can STILL get arrested for possession if you’re carrying more than the allotted amount!
Did You Know: The annual arrests for marijuana possession in 2017 still exceeded the total annual arrests for ALL VIOLENT CRIMES in the U.S. combined?
Final Thoughts: What States is Medical Marijuana NOT Legal In?
At the end of the day, it’s clear that we still have a long way to go in terms of marijuana legalization, despite the fact that as a nation we have progressed by leaps and bounds within the last five or ten years.
All in all, if you’re going to be carrying around weed – even in legalized states – just be careful and know how much you’re allowed to have on you. And of course, if you’re carrying weed in one of the 19 states where medical marijuana is NOT legal, be advised that you’re liable to get arrested for ANY amount of possession!
And lastly, as a disclaimer of sorts, be advised that none of the information in this article should be taken as legal fact. The majority of the information on felony possession amounts was sourced from DrugTreatment.com (cited below), and some of the exact numbers may be outdated.
For more information on state-by-state marijuana laws and legalization, check out our in-depth article on the subject right here.