The United States has a long history with marijuana, dating as far back as colonial times when the plant was grown to manufacture hemp rope, sails and clothing. In the 70’s and 80’s, public perception of marijuana was largely negative and often associated with hippies and so-called “stoners”.

However, in the past 20 years, marijuana has made great strides in being legalized across the country. Public support for marijuana usage has grown. While there is no federal law that legalizes weed, many states have passed legislation to legalize medical or recreational marijuana usage. 

It can be difficult to keep track of the legal status of marijuana state-by-state. What’s the difference between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana? Which states have legalized medical marijuana, and which states have legalized marijuana for recreational use? Here’s some information to help you answer these questions.

What’s the difference between Medical and Recreational Marijuana? 

The major difference between medical and recreational marijuana is its legal definition. Adult-use recreational marijuana is legal for anyone over the age of 21 to purchase for personal use. Medical marijuana requires a doctor’s prescription to treat conditions like chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety and depression. 

Both medical and recreational marijuana contain active compounds called cannabinoids. The two most common cannabinoids are THC and CBD.

THC and CBD have different interactions with the body. THC is a mind-altering chemical which provides the “high” feeling that many people are familiar with when they think about smoking marijuana. CBD is not intoxicating and does not provide any high sensation. 

Where is Marijuana Legal Medically and Recreationally?

As state legislatures go through the process of legalizing medical and recreational marijuana usage, many states are experiencing a delay in legalization and the legal selling of marijuana and marijuana-infused products at dispensaries. 

For example, New York legalized recreational marijuana usage in 2021, but it is working on issuing licenses to businesses so they can sell cannabis products legally. Only a handful of dispensaries in New York City and across the state are able to legally sell recreational marijuana. While many businesses are waiting for their licenses to open up shop, other businesses are taking advantage of these growing pains to turn a profit.

It is important to understand the laws for marijuana usage in your state. There are some states where marijuana is only legal for medical use, other states where marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational use, and several states where marijuana usage is not legal. 

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 39 states, EXCEPT the following:

Recreational marijuana is legal in the following states and the District of Columbia:

Neighborgoods sells products in both Ohio and Massachusetts. In Ohio, medical marijuana is currently the only legal form of marijuana. You can learn more about how to qualify for a medical marijuana card visiting the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program website. In Massachusetts, marijuana is legal for both medical and adult recreational use. You can learn more on the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission website.

Read some of our other cannabis blogs and check out our products online or at several dispensary locations in Massachusetts and Ohio.