Skip to main content
Find a Lawyer
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Find a Lawyer

More Options

4 States Pass Recreational Marijuana Laws

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

While many heads across the country are still spinning after Tuesday's results, voters in four states will be able to slow their roll with some legal marijuana. California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine all legalized marijuana for recreational use by adults, but there are some limits to be aware of. For example, it will still be illegal for minors to use recreational marijuana and it will be illegal to drive with under the influence. And the penalties violating these rules won't just be a slap on the wrist, either.


California legalized marijuana for adults 21 and over. However, the legislature has until 2018 to set up regulations for the retail sale. This means that while it is legal for adults to buy marijuana, selling it is still illegal. Even sales between private parties is illegal. However, the law allows people to give marijuana away. Additionally, while it was legalized, smoking marijuana in public and while driving or riding in a vehicle is prohibited.

The California law allows adults to possess, in public, up to one ounce of marijuana, or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis, and grow up to six plants in their homes.

While California had medical marijuana in place already, the medical marijuana dispensaries are still required to ensure that their customers have valid doctor recommendations, and cannot sell marijuana to anyone without a valid recommendation.


Like California, Nevada legalized the use, sale, and possession of up to one ounce of marijuana or about 4 grams of concentrated cannabis for adults 21 and over. Additionally, as retail sales have not been set up yet, though Nevada has a clear plan that starts with medical dispensaries and liquor distributors, all sales are regulated and taxed, and therefore illegal between private parties. However, people are free to give each other marijuana so long as there is no compensation. Nevada will allow each person to grow up to six plants, with the caveat that no household can have more than 12 plants.


Like California and Nevada, Massachusetts legalized marijuana for adults 21 and over. Starting on December 15, adults in Massachusetts will be allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, or five grams of concentrated cannabis, in public, ten ounces in their homes, and grow up to six plants. While retail sales will likely not begin until 2018 due to the licensing structure the new law put in place, in a few weeks, pot will be legal. Like everywhere else though, driving under the influence and providing it to minors is still illegal.


Maine also joined California, Nevada, and Massachusetts in legalizing marijuana for all adults over 21 years old. Similarly, driving under the influence, giving it to a minor and private party sales are still illegal. Notably, Maine will allow adults to possess up to 2.5 ounces in public, and like other states, Maine prohibits its use in public.

While the new marijuana laws do have some restrictions, being arrested for simple marijuana use is likely to become a thing of the past. These states all provide that violations are civil penalties and infractions. While driving under the influence or providing a minor with marijuana are more serious charges that could be misdemeanors or felonies depending on the situations, just possessing too much, or smoking it in public, will likely result in a simple slap on the wrist and fine in states where marijuana is now legal.

Related Resources:

Was this helpful?

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:
Copied to clipboard