Marijuana has always been used for multiple purposes: treating illness, making rope, livening social situations. But it has one use that towers over the rest, the very reason weed is so popular: recreation.
Social acceptance of cannabis has steadily increased over the last 40 years, in large part because advocates started pushing for medical pot. But it’s the fun that makes this drug so downright, well, fun.
The chart below demonstrates shifting perceptions towards cannabis use in recent history.
So where can you safely use recreational marijuana? As of 2016, there are quite a few places where tokers can easily get away with their favorite hobby.
Where Is Marijuana Legal?
Cannabis is currently legal in six places in the United States: Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington State, and Washington, D.C.
Voters made marijuana legal in Colorado and Washington State in 2012, the first states in the nation to implement such laws, while Alaskans and Oregonians voted to legalize in November 2014. The District of Columbia passed a legalization proposal in the same election, and officials there have lifted all penalties for simple possession, though Congress could still try to interfere with that law. California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts all voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana at the ballot in 2016.
It is legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana in Colorado, and it can be purchased from dispensaries across the state. What’s more, the same purchase and possession rules apply to visitors, meaning that even if you are not a Colorado resident, you can still enjoy the state’s legal marijuana. Residents are permitted to grow six plants at home, with no more than three mature at any one time.
Adults aged 21 and older are allowed to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use. Cannabis is distributed from licensed retail stores, although many municipalities have banned or put moratoriums on the sale of the drug. Residents of Washington are permitted to grow up to six plants at home, as long as no more than three are mature at once.
Since the vote to legalize marijuana for personal use in Oregon, recreational users have been able to get their pot solely from medical dispensaries. There are hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries across the Beaver State, and all that’s needed to make a purchase is proof of age.
Oregon’s official recreational marijuana market, complete with a seed-to-sale tracking system, will be available later in 2016.
Marijuana was made legal for recreational use by voters in Alaska in 2014, and the first retail stores will be open to the public late 2016. But some towns in the state are more welcoming to reform than others; towns including Ketchikan, Soldotna, and Palmer have already banned marijuana sale and cultivation in their localities.
District of Columbia
In the nation’s capital, sale of mairjuana falls into an unsettled legal gray area. Marijuana use, possession and cultivation have been legalized in the District, but there is not currently a retail market for the drug. That means the only way to get hold of cannabis is to grow your own at home – you’re allowed to grow up to six plants, with no more than three mature at one time.
With MMJ legal in the state since 1996, governed by a largely unregulated system , California has one of the strongest marijuana cultures in the world. The state legalized recreational use of the drug, through Proposition 64 (also known as the AUMA), at the ballot in 2016. Adults in the state are permitted to possess an ounce of cannabis and grow up to six plants at home.
How to Get Recreational Marijuana?
How you get your hands on marijuana for recreational depends on what state you’re in. In most states with legal weed, residents are legally permitted to cultivate their own cannabis at home. There are varying conditions that growers must meet, such as keeping a limit on the number of mature plants, and keeping plants out of public view.
The most popular method of obtaining recreational marijuana is to purchase it from a dispensary. Adults over 21 may legally purchase marijuana for recreation at retail stores in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon. The first commercial pot shops in Alaska are expected to open by 2017, while there are no plans for such stores in the District of Columbia, where Congress has blocked any legal sale of cannabis for recreational use.
In Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, a variety of stores sell marijuana for medicine, recreation, or both. Most stores have websites that indicate what type of customers they serve. It is also legal to gift small amounts of cannabis, provided nothing else of value changes hands.
What Are the Rules for Growing Marijuana?
It is legal to grow marijuana plants for recreational use in California, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska, and the District of Columbia. Of the jurisdictions where cannabis is legal for recreational use, only Washington State bans home grows. Medical marijuana patients may grow up to 15 plants that produce no more than 24 ounces.
Colorado allows adult residents to grow up to six plants on private property, though only three of them may be mature at the same time. The same is true in Alaska, while adults in Oregon may grow up to four plants and District of Columbia residents up to six.
What States Will Legalize Next?
More states are expected to legalize over the next few years. Arizona, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Michigan are all possible battlegrounds for reform.
But you don’t have to be legal to enjoy weed in peace. Marijuana has been fully decriminalized in 10 other states: Nebraska, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Simple possession in any of these states is punished with a civil fine rather than jail time. The fines vary in size, but they’re typically no more than a few hundred dollars – a hefty sum but no worse than the average speeding ticket.
MMJ Paves the Way for Full Legalization
It also can’t hurt to live in a state where medical cannabis is allowed. Recreational use and possession aren’t strictly legal in these places, nor is retail sale, but it’s pretty easy to get away with it in most states that permit MMJ.
There are 28 such states, from coast to coast. California is best known for its program, probably the most liberal of its kind.
Other places tend to have tighter controls on medical pot; scoring MMJ in New Jersey without a real health condition is a hopeless task for most patients. Outside California, Hawaii may be the best place to use medicinal weed for recreational purposes.
Wherever you choose to smoke your dope, there are rules unique to every location. Legal possession limits, for example, are lower in Washington State and Oregon than they are in Alaska and Oregon. So choose wisely and above all, know the law before you light up.