Justice

The Five Worst States for Weed

June 16th 2017

By:
Kyle Jaeger

Currently, there are 29 states which have legalized medical marijuana use, including the eight states and District of Columbia where it's also recreationally legal. But in spite of this and the fact that public opinion has shifted considerably in favor of loosening marijuana laws, there are still a handful of states that continue to harshly criminalize cannabis users. 

Here are the five worst states to get busted for weed, according to Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML. 

weed

1. Arizona

Arizona

While Arizona implemented a medical marijuana system in 2010, the state still enforces some of the toughest marijuana laws in the country. If you're not a qualified patient, possessing less than two pounds of marijuana is a felony punishable by a minimum sentence of four months in prison and a $1,000 fine, or a maximum sentence of two years behind bars.

Even getting caught in possession of paraphernalia, such as a pipe, is a felony that carries a minimum sentence of four months in prison.

2. Florida

Florida

Last year, Florida voters approved an initiative that legalized medical marijuana—but the law won't allow for smoking, and legal access is limited to patients who suffer from a selective list of conditions. Getting caught in possession of 20 grams of cannabis or less carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

But if you're charged with possession of more than 20 grams, you immediately enter felony territory and are placed in the same category of those caught with up to 25 pounds of cannabis, which is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years and a $5,000 fine.

3. Texas

Countries that banned Fracking

The Lone Star state "generally remains awful" when it comes to marijuana laws, Armentano told ATTN:. Though Texas passed a law permitting limited access to CBD, a non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, for epilepsy patients in 2015, efforts to fully legalize for medical use have stalled. The state hasn't amended the strict penalties for adults who use, possess, or cultivate the plant, either.

Those penalties include a misdemeanor charge for possession of two ounces or less, that carries a sentence of up to 180 days in prison and a $2,000 fine. Possession of one gram or less of concentrates such as cannabis wax is a felony punishable by up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

4. Louisiana

Louisiana

Louisiana previously had the toughest laws for marijuana possession in the country, until the governor approved legislation that reformed those laws in 2015.

"Under the previous law, second-time possession offenders faced up to five years of hard labor in prison," NORML reported. "Third-time offenders faced up to 20 years hard labor in prison." While the current law is more lenient toward first-time offenders for possession, growing or selling any amount of cannabis is considered a felony offense that carries a mandatory minimum of five years in prison, a maximum of 30 years, and a $50,000 fine—even for first time offenders.

5. Oklahoma

Oklahoma

"Oklahoma passed a sentencing reform initiative in November, though lawmakers have been fighting it tooth and nail and most its changes are not that relevant to cannabis penalties," Armentano said. The cannabis-related reform measures did reduce the maximum sentence for possession of any amount to one year and up to a $1,000 fine, though.

Selling or distributing cannabis is another story. If you're busted selling or distributing less than 25 pounds of cannabis, that's a still a felony punishable by a sentence of anywhere from two years to life in prison and a $20,000 fine.