Sessions asked Congress in May to allow the Justice Department to prosecute businesses and individuals in states with medical marijuana laws
Congress took a step toward easing its stance on medical marijuana on Thursday.
U.S. Sens. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Corey Booker (D-New Jersey) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) introduced a bill that would end the federal prohibition of medical marijuana and take steps to improve research.
The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States, or CARERS, Act would effectively change the Controlled Substances Act, allowing the possession, production and distribution of medical marijuana in states with established marijuana laws.
Twenty-nine states, as well as the District of Columbia, have already legalized marijuana, but the CARERS Act would prevent the federal government from prosecuting businesses and individuals in states where medical marijuana is legal, since federally marijuana is still illegal under the Controlled Substances Act.
“The reintroduction of the CARERS Act is the first of many steps we hope this Congress will take to end the federal prohibition of medical marijuana,” Don Murphy, director of conservative outreach for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “Polls show overwhelmingly strong support for medical marijuana, and it spans the political spectrum.
“The federal government should not be meddling in state laws that allow it or obstructing research into its many medical benefits.”
The introduction of the bill comes days after news that Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote a letter to leaders of Congress asking that they undo protections for the industry under the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment. That amendment, which is tied to the federal appropriations bill, prevents the Justice Department from using federal funds to enforce federal prohibition in states with legal marijuana laws.
The act, which was first introduced in 2015, would also allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans in states where its legal and it would give researchers more access to cannabis to conduct studies, which has been an issue in the industry.
Marijuana is made up of a multitude of cannabinoids — the two most prominent being tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). While THC is the main psychoactive component, researchers believe CBD has potential medical uses. The CARERS Act would remove CBD from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of Schedule I drugs, according to Leafly, which would allow states to import it.
Where’s the best place in America for you as an individual to legally grow marijuana?
As of early 2017, an individual can legally grow marijuana in California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Nevada, Alaska, Arizona, Massachusetts, Michigan, Maine, the District of Columbia (D.C.) and Hawaii.
In most states where state law allows you to legally grow marijuana plants, you’re limited to 4-6 plants total.
Anyone who’s a serious marijuana grower knows 4-6 plants total just isn’t enough.
If you grow from non-feminized seed, for example, you have to plant double the number of seeds that you intend to carry into bloom phase, because half or more of those plants could be males.
Or maybe you’re into marijuana cloning.
You maintain at least one marijuana motherplant, and take multiple cuttings to ensure a minimum number of healthy, rooted clones. You need to grow more than six plants.
But there are several states you can legally grow marijuana and have a productive, worthwhile grow op. Let’s take a look…
CALIFORNIA: Until the California legislature destroyed Prop. 215 (the landmark medical marijuana law passed by voters in 1996), medical marijuana growers in California had the best deal of all.Prop. 215 was great for growers until Senate Bill 420 came along to limit you to a maximum of six blooming plants or a maximum of 12 grow phase plants.You’d get a doctor’s recommendation and government-issued card, but once you did, and especially if you were a designated caregiver for other patients, you could legally grow dozens of cannabis plants.Read here to see how Governor Jerry Brown and the Legislature ruined Prop. 215.In California, your best bet is to qualify as a medical marijuana grower.
Qualified California medical marijuana growers are allowed to have a maximum of eight ounces of cured cannabis.
Some California counties have outright bans on cannabis cultivation.
Under new medical cannabis laws, a California medical marijuana patient is only allowed 100 square feet for cultivation.
If the patient is a caregiver cultivating for a maximum of five other patients, the grower is allowed 500 square feet of cultivation space.
The California law allows a grower to be given compensation for actual out of pocket expenses related to growing.
In theory (and nobody is yet sure how the new California medical marijuana laws will be enforced), you could fit about 20 full-size cannabis plants into a 100 square foot grow op, and about 100 full-size marijuana plants into the 500 square foot space.
In Washington, D.C., for example, where voters approved the Initiative 71 marijuana law in 2014, you can only grow a total of six marijuana plants, but only three can be in bloom phase!
If you share a home with other qualified growers in D.C., the total plants per home can’t exceed 12, no matter how many people legally grow marijuana there.
If you want to get paid for your marijuana, you can’t.
Initiative 71 only allows a maximum one-ounce transaction, with no compensation provide to the cannabis grower.
And if you’re into making bubblehash, dry sift, live resins, dabs, or other “hashish,” it’s illegal in D.C. just like it is in most states where marijuana is supposedly legalized.
In Colorado, things aren’t much better for people who want to legally grow marijuana at home.
If you qualify for a medical marijuana certification, you can only grow six plants total.
If you grow for recreational use, you can grow six cannabis plants, but only three can be in bloom phase.
Possession of an ounce or less of hashish or cannabis concentrates is legal in Colorado, but anything more and you’re guilty of a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the weight.
Nor can a Colorado home marijuana grower legally sell marijuana.
In Washington State, there are two ways you can legally grow marijuana.
One is to register with the state’s medical marijuana program, which was enacted in 1998.
You have to get a doctor to certify that you suffer from one of the following conditions: cachexia, cancer, Crohn’s Disease, Glaucoma, Hepatitis C, HIV or AIDS, chronic pain, muscle spasms, nausea, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), seizures, or TBI (traumatic brain injury).
Registered medical marijuana patients can legally grow marijuana, but only a total of six plants.
You can legally possess a maximum of eight ounces of cannabis produced from your marijuana plants.
If the health care professional agrees that you need more marijuana than that, you might be allowed to legally grow as many as 15 marijuana plants, and possess up to 16 ounces.
If you’re a qualified medical marijuana patient who chooses not to participate in the state’s official registry of medical marijuana patients, you can only grow a total of 6 plants and possess no more than 6 ounces of marijuana.
In neighboring Oregon, your best bet to legally grow marijuana is to qualify for the state’s medical marijuana program.
Oregon’s program was written with input from marijuana growers, which is why it has a smarter approach to plant numbers.
In Oregon, a qualifying patient can grow a maximum of six bloom phase medical marijuana plants, and at the same time have a maximum of 18 grow phase plants.
You can possess a maximum two pounds of medical marijuana.
If you don’t qualify for the Oregon medical marijuana program, you’re allowed to grow a maximum of four plants, and possess a maximum of eight ounces of your own homegrown marijuana.
New Mexico has a medical marijuana law that was first activated in 2007.
There’s a long list of qualifying medical conditions, and if you do qualify, you’re allowed to grow 16 plants… but only four can be in bloom phase at the same time.
You’re allowed to possess six ounces of cured cannabis.
Nevada’s marijuana cultivation and possession laws are a mess.
Your best bet is to qualify for the state medical marijuana registry, but the list of qualifying medical conditions is way too short.
You’re allowed to grow a total of 12 marijuana plants that can all be in bloom at the same time, but the law adds in a stupid restriction that you can’t legally grow marijuana if you’re within 25 miles of a state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary.
But the law says if you cultivate marijuana strains that the local medical marijuana dispensary doesn’t have, you’re allowed to grow marijuana even if you’re within 25 miles of the dispensary.
In Maine, you’re allowed to grow a large number of young seedlings and clones, but can only have six plants blooming at any one time.
In Massachusetts, you’re allowed to grow six plants total. Read here for a detailed explanation of Massachusetts marijuana growing laws.
In Michigan, qualified medical marijuana patients are allowed to grow a total of 12 marijuana plants, and they can all be in bloom at the same time.
However, you’re only allowed to possess 2.5 ounces of cured marijuana.
In Hawaii, there’s a list of 10 medical conditions that qualify you for medical marijuana status.
You’re allowed to grow seven plants, and possess four ounces of cannabis.
Alaska has legalized medical and recreational marijuana growing. You’re allowed a total of six plants, but only three can be in bloom phase.
You’re allowed to possess one ounce of cannabis.
Arizona has a medical marijuana law that allows you to grow 12 plants, but only if you’re more than 25 miles away from a state-licensed marijuana dispensary.
There are some important overall facts to note when it comes to the best states to legally grow marijuana:
In almost every state, including most of the ones mentioned in this article, there are still severe penalties for people who grow, possess, or sell marijuana without a medical marijuana qualification.
In all 50 states, police can arrest you for growing marijuana regardless of whether you’re a legal grower or not. If you’re arrested, you have to go to court to seek dismissal of the charges or to win acquittal at trial.
State marijuana laws are subject to interpretation and revision. They’re frequently changed, rescinded, altered, or otherwise tampered with by lawmakers or by legal precedents that come from court decisions.
In almost all states where you can legally grow marijuana, the laws place dumb limitations on how and if you can legally grow marijuana outdoors.
Each state has laws governing cannabis concentrates, medibles, tinctures, hashish, butane honey oil, and other cannabis products. In most cases, those products are strictly regulated and may be illegal.
Landlords, employers, courts, and others are legally allowed to discriminate against marijuana growers and users. The limited exception to this is Hawaii, which passed anti-discrimination laws. Read here for more about the Hawaii protections.
The advice in this article about where to legally grow marijuana is mainly intended for black market home marijuana growers who have less than ten lights. If you want to be a state-licensed, large-scale commercial grower, you have to have a lot of money to pay the fees and comply with the regulations.
State legalization laws favor large-scale, big-money, commercial marijuana growers.
The members of the BigBudsMag.com staff have grown cannabis in all the states on this list, other than Alaska.
Our consensus opinion is the best states to legally grow marijuana in are California, Oregon, Maine, and Michigan.
We favor Oregon, Michigan, and Maine the most, because you can legally grow marijuana there with enough plants to do motherplants, breeding, cloning, and growing multiple cannabis strains.
In Michigan there are only a handful of legal marijuana dispensaries and most of those are in Ann Arbor, so the retail price and demand for marijuana are high.
Michigan, Massachusetts, and Maine have very cold winters, so you can use your indoor grow lights to help heat your house.
Wherever you choose to legally grow marijuana, remember full legalization doesn’t exist anywhere in the United States.
Real marijuana legalization would mean you can grow marijuana as legally as you grow tomato plants.
Trump’s choice for attorney general indicated during recent Senate testimony that he’ll enforce federal marijuana law in legalized states. Read here for more details on that.
Adults 21 and over can light up in Alaska. In early 2015, the northernmost US state made it legal for residents to use, possess, and transport up to an ounce of marijuana — roughly a sandwich bag full — for recreational use. The first pot shop opened for business last October.
California, the first state to legalize medical marijuana back in 1996, became even more pot-friendly in 2016 when it made it legal to use and carry up to an ounce of marijuana without a prescription.
There’s no place to legally buy bud, however, until January 1, 2018, when the state begins issuing licenses to marijuana dispensaries that allow them to sell nonmedical weed.
Those eager to light up before 2018 can still do so by becoming a medical marijuana patient. And if you happen to find yourself in possession of a friend’s marijuana, that works, too.
In Colorado, where there are more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks and McDonalds locations combined, residents and tourists alike can buy up to one ounce of weed. The state joined Washington in becoming the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012.
Illinois lawmakers have introduced a bill to legalize recreational use of marijuana for state residents 21-years-old and older. The bill would allow them to possess, grow or buy up to 28 grams of the drug while allowing licensed businesses to sell related products subject to regulation.
The most nail-biting ballot initiative of the 2016 Election gave Mainers the right to possess a whopping 2.5 ounces of marijuana, more than double the limit in most other states. It goes into effect on January 30, nearly one month after the governor signed the bill into law.Retail stores will not open doors until 2018.
On December 15, Massachusetts began allowing residents to carry and consume small amounts of weed and grow up to 12 plants in their homes.
The future of the state’s adult-use market remains hazy, however. A bill signed by the governor over the holidays delayed the timetable for opening retail stores from early 2018 to mid-year.
Voters in Nevada gave a resounding yes to recreational marijuana on Election Day. January 1, it became legal to possess up to an ounce of pot. The ballot measure directs Nevada’s taxation office to implement regulations by the end of 2017 in preparation for a 2018 retail launch.
There’s bad news if you want to grow your own bud, though. Residents must live 25 miles outside the nearest dispensary in order to become eligible for a grower’s license.
Summer 2015, Oregonians got the green light to carry up to an ounce of weed and grow up to four plants at home. It’s also legal to give edibles as a gift, so long as they’re ingested in private.
Oregon enjoyed knockout sales during the state’s first year of legal marijuana. Dispensaries generated nearly $15 million in tax revenue between July 2015 and June 2016.
Dispensaries in Washington raked in over $1 billion in non-medical marijuana sales since the drug was legalized for recreational use back in 2012. The state allows people to carry up to one ounce of marijuana, but they must require the drug for medicinal purposes in order to be eligible for a grower’s license. So you can smoke it, but not grow it, if you’re toking for fun.
Residents in the nation’s capital voted in overwhelming favor to legalize nonmedical marijuana in November 2014. The bill took effect almost a year ago, allowing people to possess up to two ounces of pot and “gift” up to one ounce, if neither money nor goods or services are exchanged.