Legal Information By State & Federal Law
Learn about federal medical marijuana laws, rulings, the Controlled Substance Act & the role of state enforcement.
In 2014, the Alabama state legislature passed SB 174, a restrictive cannabidiol (CBD) law. Officially entitled "Carly's Law," it offers an affirmative defense for the possession and use of CBD; however, the program is extremely limited and may not be able to provide CBD-rich medicine to patients in Alabama. In 2016, HB 61 was passed, which expanded the affirmative defense to several conditions and removed the requirement that patients must be enrolled in the UAB study program.
Safe access to medical cannabis was first approved in Alaska by Measure 8 (1998), an initiative that was supported by 58 percent of voters.
The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) was approved November 2, 2010 by 50.13% of voters.
California became the first state to enact protections for medical cannabis patients and their primary caregivers when voters approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, in 1996.
Colorado's first and oldest medical cannabis law is a citizens’ initiative called Amendment 20 that amends the state constitution to authorize patients to possess and use medical cannabis and to be assisted by a caregiver. Colorado's second medical cannabis law, the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code (C.R.S. 12-43.3-101 et seq.), was enacted by the legislature in the summer of 2010 to establish a dual licensing mechanism that regulates medical cannabis business at both the state and local level.
On May 31, 2012, Connecticut became the 17th state in the US to approve medical cannabis when Governor Dan Malloy signed HB 5389, "An Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana."
The voters of Washington, D.C. first approved medical cannabis in 1998 with the passage of Initiative 59 (I-59), which received 69% of the vote and earned majority support in every voting precinct in the District.
In 2011, the Delaware state legislature approved Senate Bill 17, the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act making it legal for a patient with a Delaware registry identification card to use cannabis for medical purposes.
In 2014, the Florida legislature passed SB 1030, which creates a registry ID card system for patients with cancer, seizure disorders, or severe and persistent muscle spasms that would allow them to possess and use only cannabis products rich in cannabidiol (CBD) and low in THC. In November 2016, voters approved Amendment 2, which will create a comprehensive medical cannabis program with significantly expanded qualifying conditions.
While the low-THC bill approved this year in Georgia does not allow for in state production and distribution, the state deserves credit for creating legal protections through a patient registry and creating a commission that has done is seriously looking at a comprehensive medical cannabis program for the state’s patients.
In June of 2000, Hawaii passed SB 862 HD1, making Hawaii the first state to legalize medical use cannabis via the legislature, as opposed to voter initiative. The law is codified as Hawaii Revised Statutes §329-121 et seq. In June 2013, the legislature amended the law with two bills, House Bill 668 and Senate Bill 642
On August 1 2013, Governor Pat Quinn signed HB 1, The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act which creates a statewide distribution program for patients with one of over 35 serious medical conditions under the recommendation of their doctor.
In 2014, the Iowa legislature passed SF 2360, the “Medical Cannabidiol Act,” which allows licensed neurologists to certify patients with intractable epilepsy to use cannabidiol (CBD) products with 3% or less THC content.
In 2014, the Kentucky legislature revised the definition of marijuana under state law to create legal protection for patients who use a cannabidiol (CBD) medicine as part of an approved clinical trial or on the written order of “a physician practicing at a hospital or associated clinic affiliated with a Kentucky public university having a college or school of medicine.”
The Louisiana medical cannabis law was a good symbolic step for the state to take, but it will not do anything to help the patients of the state have safe and legal access to medical cannabis therapy.
Voters in the State of Maine enacted the Maine Medical Marijuana Act of 1998 to protect patients who use cannabis medically on the advice of their doctor.
On May 22, 2003 - Maryland became the ninth state to legalize the medical use of marijuana. Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. signed a bill (which went into effect on October 1, 2003), that applies to defendants possessing less than one ounce of marijuana and who can prove they used marijuana out of medical necessity and with a doctor's recommendation.
On November 6, 2012, the voters of Massachusetts approved Question 3, “An Initiative Petition for a Law for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana,” by 63 percent establishing legal protection for medical cannabis patients, caregivers, physicians and medical professionals, cultivators, and providers, some of which went into effect as of January 1, 2013.
In 2008, Michigan voters passed the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act through the state's initiative process.
In 2014, the Minnesota legislature passed SF 2470, which provides legal protections for patients with certain debilitating medical conditions who obtain a physician’s recommendation for the use of medical cannabis products. Minnesota law does not provide legal access to cannabis in its most commonly used form, dried flowers.
In 2014, Mississippi passed HB 1231, which creates an affirmative defense for the possession and use of CBD oil in very limited circumstances. Known as “Harper Grace's Law,” the bill only provides legal protection to patients diagnosed with a debilitating epileptic condition, and only if the CBD oil was either obtained from or tested by the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi and dispensed by the Department of Pharmacy Services at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
In 2014, Missouri passed HB 2238, which creates a legal right for certain patients to obtain, possess, and use “hemp extracts” in limited circumstances. The law defines a “hemp extract” as a preparation of cannabis that contains at least 5% CBD and no more than 0.3% THC.
In November 2004, Montana voters by a significant margin (62 percent) passed Initiative I-148, allowing certain patients with specific medical conditions to alleviate their symptoms through the limited use of marijuana under medical supervision.
In 2000, 65% of Nevada voters approved Question 9, amending the state constitution to allow the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by qualifying patients who participate in a confidential state-run registry that issues identification cards. Currently, registered patients may possess up to 2 ½ ounces of cannabis in a single 14-day period, as well as cultivate up to 12 plants or designate a primary caregiver to assist them. Patients who possess more than the law allows or do not have a registration card can still be prosecuted, but are entitled to a medical necessity defense in court.
New Hampshire became the 19th state with a medical cannabis law, and the last in New England, when Gov. Maggie Hassan signed HB 573 Use Of Cannabis For Therapeutic Purposes into law.
New Jersey lawmakers approved Senate Bill 119 on January 11, 2010 by a vote of 48-14 in the state House and 25-13 in the state Senate; it was signed into law by then-Governor Jon Corzine on January 18, 2010.
The New Mexico legislature passed the state’s medical cannabis law March 13, 2007 as Senate Bill 523, "The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act," by a vote of 36-31 in the House and 32-3 in the Senate.
In June 2014, the New York Assembly passed S7923, which creates legal protections for patients and caregivers and authorizes the state to license and regulate “registered organizations” to cultivate and sell medical cannabis to patients. Patients must obtain a registration identification card after getting written certification from their physician.
In July 2014, North Carolina enacted HB 1220, known as North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act, creating a pilot program that allows medical use of CBD-rich oil only for registered patients diagnosed by a neurologist at one of four universities as having intractable epilepsy that has not been responsive to at least three other treatment options.
In April of 2015 Gov. Fallin signed HB 2154 which allows physicians in Oklahoma to recommend a high-CBD cannabis oil (less than .3% THC) to minors suffering from a severe epilepsy disorder like Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome or Dravet Syndrome. In 2016, the state adopted HB 2835, which expanded legal protections to patients of all ages and added several new qualifying conditions.
The Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA) was passed by Oregon voters on November 3, 1998, and went into effect on December 3, 1998.
The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act was passed by the state legislature and signed into law on January 3, 2006 and went into effect immediately.
In 2014, the South Carolina legislature passed S 1035/H 4803, also known as “Julian’s Law.” The law creates an exemption for the possession and use of CBD from the criminal definition of marijuana in limited circumstances. Only patients with severe forms of seizure disorders are eligible for legal protections after the patient obtains a recommendation for CBD oil from a physician.
In 2014, Tennessee legislators passed SB 2531, which changes the definition of marijuana to create a legal exception for the possession and use of low-THC, CBD-rich cannabis oil solely by patients with intractable seizures.
In 2014, Utah passed HB 105, which creates a legal right to possess and use CBD-rich extracts of the cannabis plant for patients diagnosed by neurologist with intractable epilepsy who obtain a registration ID card from the state. The state requires that extracts must contain at least 15% CBD, have not more than 0.3% THC, and must be free of other psychoactive substances.
Vermont’s first medical cannabis law, Senate Bill 76, went into effect July 1, 2004, establishing a registry that provided protections for patients with debilitating medical conditions, including HIV/AIDS, cancer, and multiple sclerosis.
Washington state voters approved Initiative Measure No. 692 on November 3, 1998, establishing the framework for a medical cannabis program in the state. The Washington state legislature subsequently passed additional provisions in 2011, changing the requirements for providing medical marijuana (cannabis) recommendations to qualifying patients.
In 2014, Wisconsin passed AB 726, which creates a legal right for patients with seizure disorders to possess and use CBD-rich medicines if they have a written recommendation. The law allows medical practitioners to dispense CBD but provides no guidance on how they may obtain it, nor does the law address production or distribution.
In June of 2015 Gov. Abbot signed SB 399 which allows access to some patients to "low-THC cannabis." Unlike many other "CBD Laws" this act also allows for "dispensing organizations" to cultivate, process and distribute this medical cannabis and establishes a sort of parallel prescription system in which registered physicians record such information as patient dosage and amounts.
February of 2015 marked the signing of HB 1445 extending some legal protections to patients using CBD or THC-A extracts. This law protects patients using those specific medicines from prosecution but not arrest. HB 1445 also fails to develop any kind of cultivation, production or distribution system thereby forcing Virginians to travel to another state that extends medical access to non-residents.
On July 1 of 2015 Gov. Mead signed HB 32 into law. This law extends legal protections to some patients using some high CBD extractions. The law does not contain any provision for cultivation, production or distribution of cannabis. The only patients eligible for this program are those with intractable epilepsy and seizure disorders. Minors are eligible for medical cannabis, though their parents or legal guardians must administer it.
The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act (Act. 16, 2016), was signed on April 17, 2016 , created the state’s medical marijuana program.