In the United States, there has been a swell of support for medical marijuana legalization over the past 15 years. California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana by passing Proposition 215 (Compassionate Use Act) in 1996, followed by 15 additional states, plus Washington DC. Medical marijuana laws for possession and cultivation vary from state to state, and the laws and regulations regarding MMJ are constantly changing. Here’s a brief guide to each state’s laws regarding cultivation and possession of medical marijuana. Something that every medical marijuana user and provider must know to stay legal while growing their medicine. It is also a good idea to consult a local attorney specializing in medical marijuana before starting use or cultivation. And be aware that marijuana in all forms is still illegal under Federal Law, causing continuous friction between patients, providers and Federal law enforcement.
Alaska: Here, patients or caregivers (a person who has constantly accepted responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of the patient) can legally possess only one ounce of usable marijuana, and may cultivate at home a maximum six marijuana plants, of which no more than three may be mature. A state-run patient or caregiver registry is necessary, without which they would be defenseless if arrested on marijuana charges.
Arizona: Qualified patients and registered caregivers may acquire up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana in a 14-day period from a registered nonprofit MMJ dispensary. If the nearest dispensary is beyond 25 miles, they may cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants in a confined and secured facility.
California: Patients, diagnosed with debilitating illnesses and recommended marijuana by a physician, and their primary caregivers may possess up to eight ounce of dried marijuana and/or six mature (or 12 immature) marijuana plants. However, Senate Bill 420, effective from January 1, 2004, allows patients to possess larger amounts of marijuana on physician’s recommendation.
Colorado: A patient or a primary caregiver having a MMJ Registry identification card may possess no more than two ounces of a usable form of marijuana and not more than six marijuana plants, with three or lesser mature, flowering plants that are producing a usable form of marijuana. However, unregistered patients if arrested on marijuana charges may argue on “affirmative defense of medical necessity.”
District of Columbia (DC): Any qualifying patient or caregiver may own two ounces of dried medical marijuana. However, the Mayor has the authority to increase the possession quantity of dried medical marijuana to four ounces, and shall decide limits on other medical marijuana forms.
Delaware: On physician’s recommendation, patients who are 18 and above with certain debilitating illness may possess up to six ounces of marijuana. A registered compassion center cannot distribute more than 3 ounces of marijuana to a registered qualifying patient within a stipulated period of fourteen-days, and a patient may register with only one of such compassion centers.
Hawaii: The patient must obtain identification card from the confidential state-run patient registry. The quantity that can be possessed is not clearly specified for this state. Patients and caregivers can jointly grow maximum seven plants, of which three maybe mature, giving not more than one ounce of usable marijuana per plant.
Maine: Initially, patients or their primary caregivers could legally possess not more than 1.25 ounces of usable marijuana, which was later amended in Senate Bill 611 to up to 2.5 ounces, and may grow six marijuana plants, of which three may be mature. Patients who possess more marijuana than legal are allowed for a simple defense to a charge of marijuana possession.
Michigan: The patients can grow 12 marijuana plants in an enclosed, locked facility; and may possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana. However, patients are allowed to keep these plants only if they have not assigned a primary caregiver to cultivate marijuana for them.
Montana: According to Initiative 148, a qualifying patient and their caregiver may each possess six marijuana plants and one ounce of usable marijuana. This law was revised in Senate Bill 423, which permitted them to increase the number of plants to 12 seedlings of less than 12″ and four mature flowering plants.
Nevada: Patients (or their primary caregivers) may legally possess no more than one ounce of usable marijuana, three mature plants, and four immature plants.
New Jersey: Patient dosage is strictly determined by the physician, which should be presented to an alternative treatment center in written. The maximum quantity of two ounces is allowed for a 30-day period.
New Mexico: Patients are permitted to possess up to six ounces of usable cannabis, four mature plants, and 12 seedlings. Usable cannabis can be dried leaves and flowers, but not seeds, stalks or roots. Under the Medical Cannabis Program, a primary caregiver is entitled to serve a maximum of four qualified patients.
Oregon: A registry-identified cardholder or the designated primary caregiver of the cardholder may possess up to six mature marijuana plants (more than 12 inches in height and diameter) and 24 ounces of usable marijuana, and jointly may possess up to 18 marijuana seedlings. A state-registry is required for those authorized to produce medical cannabis for qualified patients. With House Bill 3052, effective from July 21, 1999, patients (or their caregivers) are allowed to cultivate marijuana in only one location, and if arrested, they must be diagnosed by their physicians at least 12 months prior to present an affirmative defense. This bill also states that law enforcement officials who seize marijuana from a patient pending trial do not have to keep those plants alive.
Rhode Island: Home growers can grow up to 12 marijuana plants or possess up to 2.5 ounces of cultivated marijuana. Primary caregivers may not possess marijuana from more than 24 plants and five ounces of usable marijuana for their registered qualifying patients.
Vermont: The registered patient and the patient’s registered caregiver may collectively possess no more than two mature marijuana plants, seven immature plants, and two ounces of usable marijuana. When male or female flower buds are readily observed on the plant by unaided visual examination, the plant is considered as “mature.”
Washington: A qualifying patient and designated provider may possess or cultivate no more than 60-day supply of marijuana, which is a total of not more than 24 ounces of usable marijuana, and no more than fifteen plants. A state-run patient registry is not yet established.