Where is Cannabis Decriminalized in the U.S.?
There are still states that do not have legal cannabis in any form, but more than half of the U.S. has legalized either medical and/or recreational cannabis. Along with, states and some local jurisdictions have decriminalized cannabis possession. This guide will help you to know where you won’t get anything but a civil citation (similar to a traffic ticket) or no penalty at all as long as you’re possessing the amount of cannabis or less allowed under decriminalization regulations.
What does Decriminalization Mean?
Decriminalization is a state or city regulation that helps stop overcrowding of jails and leaving people with tarnished criminal records for simple cannabis possession. It isn’t legal to sell or buy cannabis, but you won’t be arrested for cannabis possession if you’re within the jurisdictional limit. Police officers are given discretion to determine whether or not your specific situation, and reason for being stopped, requires an arrest or a simple civil citation. Civil citations are similar to traffic tickets where you can pay the fine ahead of time and not have to attend court as long as the ticket is taken care of.
States that have Decriminalized Simple Cannabis Possession
Here I’ll give you a quick breakdown of the states that have decriminalized cannabis possession and how much you can carry without arrest.
Delaware – Delaware decriminalized possession of 1-ounce or less of marijuana. This applies to adults ages 21 and older only. Under age 21, found in possession of any amount of marijuana still results in criminal penalties.
Illinois – Cannabis possession, of 10-grams or less, was decriminalized for adults ages 21 and older in the state on July 29, 2016. You’ll get a fine between $100 and $200. Included is the possession of cannabis paraphernalia.
Louisiana – In the city of New Orleans, if you’re caught with a small amount of cannabis, the police can choose whether or not to arrest you. Possession of small amounts is decriminalized, but whether or not you go to jail depends on your demeanor and other potential charges.
Maryland – Governor Martin O’Malley decriminalized simple cannabis possession, 10-grams or less, in 2014. Maryland SB 364 was signed to give civil fines instead of jail time for adults ages 21 and older found in possession of cannabis for personal use.
Minnesota – Although Minnesota does have a medical marijuana program, it is important to note that they decriminalized possession of 1.5-ounces of cannabis in 1976. Basically, if you had an ounce and half of cannabis on you, it would be a petty misdemeanor instead of a harsher criminal offense.
Mississippi – In most cases in Mississippi, simple cannabis possession (an amount suitable for personal use) is treated like a traffic violation rather than a criminal offense. At least for first timers, if you’re caught multiple times, you might see a stiffer penalty and possibly – jail time.
Pennsylvania – The cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh decriminalized the possession of 30-grams or less of cannabis in 2014 and 2015. In Pittsburgh, you can still be charged criminally for possession of paraphernalia.
Rhode Island – If you’re found to be in possession of an ounce or less of cannabis here, you’ll receive a $150 fine. Now, if you continually get busted with cannabis, your third offense will land you in jail.
Vermont – In 2013, Vermont decriminalized cannabis possession. Adults 21 and older can possess up to an ounce without punishment, other than a fine.
Cities and towns across the U.S. continue to decriminalize simple cannabis possession. This is, perhaps, due to the shift in social acceptance and the realization that the war on drugs has failed. Not only has it failed, more and more research continues to show the safety of cannabis versus alcohol, prescription opioids/amphetamines and illicit street drugs.
Is cannabis possession decriminalized where you live? Let us know, we’ll add it here.