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Marijuana: Legalized vs. Decriminalized

Colorado & Washington state recently legalized marijuana.

The following states have decriminalized marijuana…

  • Alaska

  • California

  • Connecticut

  • Maine

  • Massachusetts

  • Minnesota

  • Mississippi

  • Nebraska

  • Nevada

  • New York

  • North Carolina

  • Ohio

  • Oregon

  • Rhode Island

  • Vermont

Great! So what is the difference between legalized versus decriminalized and what does that mean to you?

Generally speaking decriminalization means you won’t get prison time or a criminal record on first offenses with small personal consumption quantities. You can still be hit with civil fines, drug education classes or other forms of reprimand. The minimum fines or disciplinary actions will vary from state to state.

That doesn’t mean Colorado & Washington are the great green west. Both states have a 1 ounce for personal consumption limit on marijuana. Fines begin at $100 and go up from there for having more than an ounce. Having larger amounts even fall into the territory of being considered felonies. The NORML website has plenty of information on legal limits and regulations for each site.

A medical marijuana card, called a red card in Colorado, offers some protection under state law. In Washington, a MMJ patient can have up to 15 plants at any one time. Cultivation is illegal in Washington state without a card. In Colorado you can purchase up to 2 ounces of medical marijuana with a card. Without a card you are limited to 1 ounce by law.

There is definitely a difference between legalization and decriminalization. It’s very important to know the difference and to know under what category your specific state falls. It could mean the difference between a great time and jail time. For more information on obtaining a medical marijuana card in Colorado, visit our doctor’s page.

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