Which States Decriminalized Weed? California, Vermont, and More

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It seems a lot of people in Colorado are unclear on exactly what the state’s new marijuana laws allow and prohibit. Since retailers started selling recreational weed on January 1, Denver police have arrested around one person per day for lighting up in public, as that’s still against the law. 

Even in the state with the most permissive marijuana laws in the country, it’s possible that weed will get you busted. But the reverse is true: There are plenty of states that haven’t legalized marijuana, but have nevertheless enacted laws that institute relatively lenient consequences for offenders. That’s called decriminalization, and 15 states in the U.S. have decriminalized marijuana. Wonder if your home state is one of them? Read on! 

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First time offenders caught with an ounce or less of marijuana in Nevada are slapped with a misdemeanor, a maximum fine of $600, and a coupon for a free continental breakfast at The Luxor. Just kidding about that last part.


Oddly enough, one of the most conservative states in the country also has one of the most liberal marijuana laws. In Alaska, you can have up to four ounces of weed in your personal residence without any punishment at all. It’s not even a crime! Take it outside your home, though, and you face a maximum fine of $2,000 and 90 days incarceration.


It shouldn’t surprise anyone that in California, possession of 28.5 grams of weed or less by someone without a medical marijuana prescription is an infraction. You’ll get a $100 ticket and a lecture from the arresting officer on how he has better things to do with his time than deal with hooligans like you.


In Ohio, it’s a misdemeanor to have less than 100 grams of marijuana. That’s an absolutely absurd amount of weed for an individual to possess, which makes the $100 fine seem all the more lenient.


In Mitt Romney country, marijuana possession is a civil offense. The maximum fine for having an ounce or less is $100, so it’s basically a tax on not hiding your weed as carefully as you should have. 

New York

Getting caught with 25 grams or less of marijuana in New York costs $100 at most. That’s less than the fine for scamming your way into the subway without paying. 


Getting caught with 42.5 grams of weed or less is a misdemeanor in Minnesota, with a maximum fine of $200. 


Another socially conservative state with a relaxed attitude toward marijuana. Possession of up to 30 grams of weed will get you a $250 ticket in Mississippi, and no jail time.


Despite its reputation as a conservative state, Nebraska has relatively lax marijuana laws. Having less than an ounce of weed is an infraction, punishable by a maximum fine of $300. 

North Carolina

North Carolina tends to be pretty conservative, but having half an ounce of pot or less in the state is a mere $200 fine. If only its abortion laws were more reasonable. 


In Connecticut, you can have up to half an ounce of pot and receive nothing more than a $150 ticket.

Rhode Island

You can have up to an ounce of weed in Rhode Island and pay no more than $150. As an added bonus, it won’t even go on your criminal record. 


In Maine, you can have less than 2.5 ounces of weed and still be in civil violation territory. That probably doesn’t make the $600 maximum fine any easier to swallow, though. 


Vermont is one of the most liberal states in America, so it’s no surprise that getting caught with an ounce or less of weed is just a civil violation with a maximum fine of $200. 


You can be caught with up to an ounce of weed in Oregon and still be in misdemeanor territory. The $650 fine is kind of steep, though.