An Overview of Cannabis Legislation

Marijuana legislation is constantly evolving. Every day, cannabis advocates help new bills pass in state legislatures across the United States.

It can be hard to keep up with all changes, especially if you’re not familiar with the law. This article will summarize the different facets of cannabis legislation and how federal law differs from state laws.

The main thing to understand is the three different types of marijuana laws you should pay attention to: medical, recreational, and decriminalization.

Medical Marijuana Legislation

Medical marijuana laws allow patients with certain qualifying conditions to use cannabis for medicinal purposes with a doctor’s recommendation. In each state, the specific qualifying conditions vary. Common qualifying conditions include cancer, chronic pain, anxiety, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

To acquire medical marijuana in states where it is legal, patients must first get a doctor’s recommendation. Once they have done so, they can register with the state government and receive a medical marijuana card. This card allows them to purchase cannabis from a dispensary.

Recreational Marijuana Legislation

Recreational marijuana laws allow adults over 21 to use cannabis for recreational purposes. In states with recreational cannabis laws, adults can purchase and consume cannabis without a doctor’s recommendation.

However, some restrictions are still in place. For example, most states limit the amount of cannabis that an adult can purchase and possess at one time. In addition, smoking cannabis in public is not allowed.


Decriminalization laws differ from medical and recreational marijuana laws in that they do not legalize cannabis use outright. Instead, decriminalization laws typically only remove the penalties associated with possession of small amounts of cannabis.

It’s important to remember that decriminalization does not necessarily mean that there are no penalties at all. For example, in some states, decriminalization may only apply to the possession of small amounts of cannabis in private residences.

Cannabis Legislation at the Federal Level

It’s important to understand that federal law does not permit the sale or use of marijuana, regardless of state law. This is because cannabis continues to be a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Therefore, even in states where marijuana is legal for recreational or medicinal purposes, businesses and individuals still violate federal law when they sell or use cannabis.

Federally, the penalties for violating the Controlled Substances Act are often much harsher than penalties at the state level.

CBD and Hemp Products

CBD and hemp products are not subject to the same laws as cannabis. This is because CBD and hemp contain less than 0.3% THC, the chemical compound in cannabis that gets people high.

As a result, CBD and hemp products can be sold legally in many states where marijuana cannot. However, it’s essential to check your state’s laws before purchasing CBD or hemp products, as some states have restrictions on these products as well.

Final Thoughts

Although cannabis legislation is pushing forward rapidly, the lack of accessibility to lab-tested, high-quality cannabis is difficult for patients and consumers who still live in prohibition states.

The good news is that with each passing day, we are one step closer to a future where all adults have legal access to cannabis. Until then, be sure to stay current on the laws in your state to avoid any legal trouble.