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Marijuana Laws in the United States. An Overview of Marijuana Laws for All 50 U.S. States

State by State Marijuana Laws
NORML's State Guide to Marijuana Penalties outlines most penalties for prohibited marijuana conduct in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and under federal law. To view the list of prohibited conduct and penalties, click here for NORML's current guide to marijuana laws by state.

Marijuana laws and penalties change rapidly and are enforced and interpreted differently even in the same legal jurisdiction. Please consult a criminal defense lawyer if you have been busted or if you want to know how a particular conduct might be punished. If you spot an error or have information that should be included in NORML's State Guide to Marijuana Penalties, please inform the NORML Foundation (

Many thanks to Michelle Cockerham, University of Denver law student and NORML's Legal Intern for Summer 2001, for her extensive research assistance in updating this Guide. Also thanks to John Lucy, University of North Carolina law student and NORML's Legal Intern for Summer 2005, and Paul Varnado of Duke University and a 2005 NORML Summer Intern, for their extensive work in keeping this list up to date.

Please note: The guide does not list penalties for every marijuana offense nor every enhanced sentence such as possessing marijuana near a school, involving a minor, and automatic driver's or professional license suspension. Your state may require an enhanced sentence even if the enhancement is not in the guide.

Unless otherwise specified, please assume that listed penalties apply only to first convictions. Prior convictions often place a defendant in a higher penalty range, and convictions while on probation for a previous offense may result in revocation of probation.
Except where indicated otherwise, a listed fine is the maximum fine for the conviction and the minimum fine is zero.

"Possession" usually means "possessing marijuana only for personal use". If the government accuses you of possessing marijuana for other reasons, the accompanying penalties will probably exceed those for possessing marijuana for personal use. Possessing large amounts of marijuana frequently results in more serious charges of "possession with intent to distribute" , "trafficking", and/or "sale".

Many factors contribute to a defendant's sentence. Factors include level of involvement in the prohibited conduct, location, age, presence or absence of minors, use or presence of weapons, conduct for which a person has been acquitted, and many other things.
If you are in trouble, please know your rights and hire an attorney.

Warning: The information contained in the NORML report is for informational purposes only. Individuals are encouraged to confirm their state's laws before engaging in any particular behavior, or before going to court without a lawyer.

Join the Drive to Decriminalize Marijuana

Marijuana is illegal under federal law and medical marijuana is not recognized under federal law. Even though California state law recognizes medical marijuana, the list of clinics, physicians, and patient groups found on this website is for information ONLY and LANORML does not, in any way, recommend or verify the legitimacy or the activities of any clinics, physicians. patient groups listed herein.
For additional information, please refer to

We do not endorse any clubs, compassionate centers, mail order facilities, etc... and in no way are we responsible for the actions of any these groups, nor do we suggest or otherwise represent that they are acting legally under the law. We have not investigated backgrounds, methods of operations, or any other facet of their facilities or activities. Any contact that you may wish to make with them is at your own risk.

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