Top 10 States with the Strictest Marijuana Laws
October 12, 2021
By Evan Kaden, Guest Contributor
Acceptance of medicinal and recreational marijuana in America is growing across the nation. Billboards throughout the United States promote dispensaries on highways, while broadcast networks have started to normalize its usage on television shows.
However, not all of the United States is coming around to marijuana. Here are the 10 States with the strictest marijuana laws in 2021.
A few months ago, Tennessee would've ranked much higher on this list. However, the Volunteer State has made great strides in cannabis legalization.
Tennessee recently approved medical marijuana. However, there are no marijuana dispensaries as of today.
There is a statewide medical CBD program with hemp dispensaries. In fact, medical CBD oil in Tennessee can possess up to 0.9% THC. That's far more than the 0.3% legal federal limit for consumers.
Tennessee has also reformed its marijuana criminalization. First and second-time offenders will now get probation rather than jail.
Marijuana has been decriminalized since 1975, with a half-ounce commanding a $200 fine. Until recently, that was the last real progressive move the state made until 2015, when North Carolina started a medical CBD program. Since then, North Carolina has maintained a hard stance in favor of marijuana prohibition.
Thankfully, the Old North State has seen some recent progress in medical legalization legislation. House Bill 929 passed its first reading in May 2021.
However, it's being held up in Senate. Experts don't believe a vote will happen until at least mid-2022.
Like North Carolina, South Carolina only has a medical CBD program. Many bills for medical marijuana legalization have fallen on deaf ears in the South Carolina House over the past few years. However, U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham is hoping to make a change.
He is proposing a safe way to enact medical and recreational marijuana for adults over 21 years old. This proposal includes job creations and expunging low-level cannabis convictions. While a strong advocate, he hasn't made much progress yet.
While South Carolina is behind North Carolina in legislation proceedings, they are ahead in decriminalization. Possession of an ounce of marijuana is just $250 in South Carolina, compared to the $200 fine for a half-ounce in North Carolina.
Kentucky has been at the forefront of CBD legalization. They're the leading state for agriculture hemp. Plus, you are allowed to purchase CBD oil with up to 0.3% THC in the formula.
However, the Bluegrass State has dragged its feet in marijuana reform. HB 136 saw a 65-30 vote in favor of medical marijuana legalization. However, progress stalled with the onset of COVID-19 and never recovered.
While you are allowed up to eight ounces on your first defense, it will lead to up to 45 days in jail and/or $250 in fines.
Nebraska is slowly starting to ease up on its penalties for marijuana possession. However, an ounce can still levy a $300 fine. Law officials might also enforce that you enter a drug treatment program. A second offense will render you jail time, but a maximum of 5 days.
CBD oil is legal in Nebraska and doesn't require a prescription. You are allowed to have up to 0.3& THC, which is the federal limit. The CBD oil must be derived from hemp.
There has been talking about lifting a ban on medical marijuana. However, nothing has come of the last proposal, which was entered to the House in July 2021.
Texas has a tough stance on marijuana and a unique take on THC. They have a medical CBD program where a physician can prescribe CBD oil.
However, their THC restrictions are very liberal. Doctors can prescribe formulas with up to 0.5% THC, which is beyond the standard federal limit.
Texas is slowly pivoting towards leaner cannabis laws. Conditions accepted for a CBD prescription have recently expanded.
However, possessing marijuana still comes with penalties. Up to two ounces can come with up to 180 days in jail and/or 1,000 in fines.
Major cities are starting to transition from the low tolerance for marijuana that Texas exhibits. Police in Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Travis County won't arrest people who possess up to four ounces of marijuana.
You know we're big on Kansas reform. The Wheat State is one of the harshest for marijuana laws.
While Kansas allows CBD oil sales without a prescription, they must have 0.0% THC. You can buy broad-spectrum CBD oil because there is no THC. So, it will be more potent than buying CBD oil formulated with a distillate.
The Kansas Equal Access Act was proposed to the Kansas House in March 2020. It was finally taken off the table in May 2021.
Kansas House passed House Substitute for SB 158. This act would legalize medical marijuana. However, it won't be voted on until 2022.
Currently, any amount of marijuana possession can land a $1,000 fine and/or up to six months of jail time on the first defense.
Idaho doesn't require a prescription for CBD oil, but they do have strict CBD laws. Until July 1, 2021, all CBD oil had to be made from CBD distillate.
Currently, Idaho allows for broad-spectrum and full-spectrumCBD oil sales, as long as there is 0.1% THC or less. Also, the THC must be naturally occurring. It can't be added to the formula.
Idaho hasn't decriminalized marijuana use. Up to three ounces is considered as intended for personal use. It can come with up to $1,000 in fines and/or one year in jail.
There was a glimmer of hope when medical marijuana legalization was brought to the Idaho House in February 2021. However, this proposition never gained momentum.
Unlike Idaho, Indiana does allow CBD oil to have the federal legal limit of THC, which is 0.3%. In early 2021, Indiana proposed multiple bills for marijuana reform. Unfortunately, all of these proposals got shot down.
In fact, Indiana has cracked down on marijuana punishments. They are increasing field sobriety tests for marijuana. While commendable, these tests measure any traces of THC or its metabolites, which means the THC has already left the system. A driver with a positive test might not be impaired.
Indiana has strict marijuana fines for offenders, including first-timers. Regardless of the amount you possess, your first offense is a $1,000 fine and 180 days in jail. A second offense where there is more than 30g can increase up to $500 and a year in jail.
Wisconsin is making slow progress in marijuana legalization. A first-time offense without any amount of marijuana can earn you up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine. Second offenses are considered felonies with $10,000 fines and up to 3.5 years in jail.
Parts of Wisconsin are fighting back. Milwaukee only charges first-time offenders a $1.00 fine.
Medical marijuana legalization was discussed in mid-2021, but no actions are expected to be made until 2022.
About Evan Kaden: Easily entertained by the simpler things in life, Evan spends most of his free time enjoying the outdoors with his Golden Retriever, Skeeter. As a freelance writer and marijuana activist, he’s thankful for the many opportunities he’s been given to express his passion for the cannabis industry.