Laws For Recreational Marijuana In The US

In the United States, several states have opted to legalize cannabis for adult use. Although, marijuana is illegal at the federal level. Another word for adult use is recreational marijuana.

Each month, on average more than 20 million Americans use marijuana. It means that in the country, it is a popular drug on the street. Adult-use involves using cannabis for personal enjoyment.

Moreover, eleven states have legalized the use of recreational marijuana. Some states have limited their efforts to medical marijuana access only.

Across the country, adult use is spreading and steadily picking up steam. The number of people in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana has increased.

Leafly in a post discusses recreational marijuana and the states where it is legal.

Recreational Marijuana

Adult-use cannabis is legal marijuana sold in dispensaries that are licensed. Adults aged 21 or older are allowed to use it. In the US, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize cannabis for adult use.

The most common way to use marijuana is by smoking. When an individual smokes, the plant releases active chemicals due to heat. You then breathe it in. Recreational marijuana can be in the form of a smokable flower, concentrates, edibles, or topicals.

Methods of Consumption

There are several ways to take in marijuana.

Firstly, there is vaporization. It is similar to an e-cigarette. The marijuana gets dried by the heat, which causes it to release vapor. The vapor does not contain toxic smoke. However, it carries THC and other cannabinoids.

Secondly, there is a newer delivery method known as dabbing. It contains concentrated cannabis oils that you breathe in. The THC level in it is 80%.

Lastly, we have edibles. You can put marijuana into food. For instance, you can bake it into cookies or brownies. Furthermore, an individual can consume it by mouth in oil, capsule, or tincture.

US Laws

In most US states, only medical marijuana patients have the grant to access cannabis. There will be 18 states plus Washington, DC, and Guam as of April 12, 2021, that have legalized recreational marijuana.

Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and two dozen other states have a legal medical marijuana program. However, the programs vary from state to state. The difference depends upon the type of products available, access, and qualifying conditions.

Age Restriction

When a state legalizes recreational marijuana, there is an age restriction. An adult should be 21 or over to buy cannabis from licensed dispensaries. Moreover, it is essential to have valid identification.

On the other hand, medical marijuana legalization restricts the purchase to ages 21 and up. In some programs, it is permissible for patients aged 18+, as well as minors. However, in this case, a doctor’s authorization, a qualifying condition is essential.

Possession/Purchase Limits

The amount of cannabis that recreational marijuana customers can purchase at one time is limited. Moreover, there is also a possession limit.

Furthermore, medical marijuana patients also have restrictions and limits. Several states allow patients to possess and purchase more cannabis than recreational consumers.

Growing Cannabis At Home

Some states in the US limit or prohibit home growing for personal adult use. However, in the case of medical marijuana patients, they may make exceptions.

The patients can often grow/possess more plants, especially if they do not have any licensed dispensary where they live.

Tax Exemptions

Cannabis products in recreational markets have certain additional taxes. Often Medical marijuana patients are exempt from paying them.

Recreational customers in Seattle, Washington, must pay a 10.1% sales tax on their purchases. There is a 3.6% local/county tax plus 6.5% state sales and use tax rate.

Product Selection

There is very little difference between medical and recreational menus when it comes to product selection. You will find various forms of marijuana at either store type.

However, some state medical marijuana laws may restrict the form factor allowed to patients. It means that certain products may be unavailable.

Shopping Experience

Whether it’s medical or recreational dispensaries, the shopping process is almost similar. Here’s more on the subject:

Medical Dispensaries

To prove that they’re legally old enough to purchase cannabis, patients need to present their ID. Additionally, they have to show their valid medical cannabis card.

There is a waiting room at some medical dispensaries. To ensure privacy, patients sit there, and they are called one at a time. Moreover, medical patients receive discounts and tax breaks.

Recreational Dispensaries

The shopping process is similar at recreational dispensaries. Due to the lack of banking services, sellers often only accept debit cards or cash cards.

Also, many times it is not permissible for recreational stores to provide medical advice to customers. However, as a medical patient, you can still shop.

Furthermore, some shops have a dual license. It means that they can cater to the needs of both medical and recreational consumers. To better answer patient questions, medical dispensaries and dual-licensed shops are better equipped.

Buying Process

An individual may feel a bit awkward and intimidating during the first purchase. However, there is no need to worry because it is a safe and easy process. To walk into a recreational cannabis shop with confidence, follow the steps below.

Assess the Shops

First and foremost, assess the shops near you. Check out their details and read about their reviews, deals, and menus. Explore a few different dispensaries, and do not be afraid.

Every shop has a different atmosphere, staff, deals, and product selection. Afterward, when you find the perfect store, leave a review to help other people. Your experience may help someone else.

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Research your Products

As a first-time buyer, you have two options. Either you go in and speak with a budtender. Ask them about the products and what they would recommend.

On the other hand, before visiting a store, you can do a little research. It will help get a better idea of which product suits you the best. It is essential to learn about the basics of cannabis.

Several dispensaries provide ongoing training and certification programs. The programs help budtenders to stay updated on the best practices and latest products.

You’re Ready to Buy

After familiarizing yourself with products, reserve the products you want to try. You can then head into the dispensary and buy them. Remember, they all have unique and different experiences.

Moreover, you might have to try a few different types before you find the one you love.


Around eleven states in the US have legalized recreational marijuana. The usage is increasing across the country. We now have different methods of consuming marijuana. However, the most common one is smoking.

As time progresses, more and more states are moving towards legalization. Furthermore, the laws of recreational and medical marijuana are different. Additionally, the shopping experience for both is also different.

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