Medical Marijuana Laws by State
Created byВ FindLaw’s team of legal writers and editors | Last updated October 18, 2019
Patients whose physicians recommend medical marijuana for certain illnesses and chronic conditions are exempt from criminal prosecution in states that have passed medical marijuana laws. A growing number of states (and the District of Columbia) have medical marijuana laws, although federal law makes no such exceptions from the current drug prohibition policy.
Medical marijuana laws vary drastically in their scope and implementation, including the regulation of dispensaries. Some states only allow terminally ill patients to legally use marijuana, for example, while others are much less restrictive. For general information, including how these laws interact with federal law, see the medical marijuana laws page in FindLaw’s Criminal Law section.
The following state-specific guide should help you get up to speed on current medical marijuana laws:
Ballot Measure #8 passed in 1998 and was enacted in 1999. Patients whose physicians advise in writing that they “might benefit from the medical use of marijuana” may use, possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use.
After securing a physician’s recommendation, patients must apply for a Registry Identification Card for Medical Use of Marijuana in order to be considered compliant.
Alaska Stat. 17.37.10, et seq.
Proposition 203 passed in 2010, allowing use and possession of marijuana for patients with “written certification” from their physician.
The law recognizes “visiting qualifying patients,” those with valid doctor’s recommendations from other medical marijuana states.
Arizona Rev. Statutes 36-2801, et seq.
Voters approved passage of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment , known on the ballot as Issue 6, on Nov. 8, 2016. The measure removes criminal sanctions against those who use medical marijuana under doctor’s orders, although dispensaries and cultivation centers have yet to be developed.
Patients who want access to medical marijuana must apply with the state, including a written certification from a physician licensed in the state.
Arkansas Constitution of 1874: Amendment 98, section 1, et seq.
Proposition 215, passed in 1996, was the nation’s first medical marijuana law (California Bureau of Medical Cannabis). Eligible patients must present a “written or oral recommendation” from their physician.
Guidelines passed in 2003 set limits for possession and cultivation of marijuana by eligible patients and their caregivers. Although the state issues medical marijuana identification cards, registration is not mandatory for compliance.
California Health and Safety Code: Section 11362.5, et seq.
Amendment 20 passed in 2000 and took effect the following year, exempting patients with written documentation from their physicians from criminal sanctions.
While the state maintains a confidential registry and issues identification cards, patients who do not join the registry and are arrested for possession or cultivation of marijuana may argue an “affirmative defense of medical necessity.”
Colorado Constitution Article XVIII 14; Colorado Revised Statutes 18-18-406.3, et seq.
Public Act 12-55 was signed into law by the governor on June 1, 2012. Patients with a qualifying “debilitating medical condition” who have obtained written certification from a physician may possess cannabis, but may not cultivate the plant.
Medical marijuana patients must register with Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection (DCP).
Connecticut Gen. Statutes: Title 21A, Section 21a-408, et seq.
Delaware’s governor signed Senate Bill No. 17 into law in May 2011 that permits the medical use of marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation by those 18 and older.
Qualifying patients must have written documentation from their physician, which is then sent to the state Department of Health and Social Services for the issuance of a mandatory I.D. card. The statute also recognizes qualifying patients from other states. Qualifying patients who do not have an I.D. card may raise an affirmative defense motion to dismiss marijuana possession charges.
Ballot Initiative 59 was passed by a wide margin of voters in 1998 (69%) but was blocked by city lawmakers citing a congressional ban.
The ban was lifted in 2010, followed by the passage of legislation authorizing the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries. Patients may register online.
Florida voters approved the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative (on the ballot as Amendment 2) on Nov. 8, 2016 with a 71 percent “yes” vote.
The amendment to Florida’s Constitution allows patients with a doctor’s recommendation to use marijuana to alleviate symptoms of certain illnesses and medical conditions.
Senate Bill 862 was signed into law in 2000 and took effect later that year. Eligible patients must obtain a signed physician’s statement that medical marijuana would help their “debilitating condition” and that the “potential benefits. would likely outweigh the health risks” of medical marijuana.
The state-run patient registry is mandatory for eligible patients.
Hawaii Revised Statutes: Section 329-121, et seq.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed House Bill 1 into law on Aug. 1, 2013. The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act instituted a 4-year pilot program for the supply and use of medical marijuana by eligible patients, which was extended through July 1, 2020.
Patients with a doctor’s recommendation must register with the state to participate in the program, which does not permit individual cultivation of cannabis.
Louisiana law ostensibly allowed physicians licensed in the state to recommend the use of medical marijuana for certain seriously ill patients for decades. But it wasn’t until 2017 that legislation was signed into law to establish a legal framework for medical cannabis.
The new law is expected to provide protections for patients, caregivers, and physicians, in addition to licensing protocols and other regulatory controls.
Louisiana Revised Statutes: Title 40, Section 1046, et seq.
Question 2 was passed by voters in 1999 and took effect later that year, allowing patients to possess and cultivate medical marijuana with an oral or written “professional opinion” from their physician. Patients who are arrested for having more than the allowed amount of marijuana may use a “simple defense” against the charges.
Amendments established a confidential registry and identification program (required for eligible patients). Maine allows visiting qualifying medical marijuana patients with a valid medical marijuana identification.
Maine Revised Statutes: Title 22, Section 2421, et seq.
Maryland lawmakers passed legislation in 2013 legalizing the medical use of marijuana by eligible patients. The state allows physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists, podiatrists, and nurse midwives to recommend it to their patients.
The program became operational on Dec. 1, 2017. Patients must register with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission in order to access their medicine.
Code of Maryland Regulations: Chapter 10, Section 62.01, et seq.
Question 3 (An Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana) was passed with the support of 63 percent of voters in 2012, legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and took effect on Jan. 1, 2013. The law mandates a state-run patient registry and allows up to 35 state-licensed (and nonprofit) medical marijuana dispensaries.
Code of Massachusetts Regulations: 105 CMR 725.001, et seq.
Proposal 1 was approved by voters in 2008 and implemented later that year, allowing possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who obtain written documentation from their physician. Recreational marijuana was legalized through a ballot initiative on Nov. 6, 2018.
The state operates a confidential patient registry and issues identification cards. Michigan allows visiting qualifying medical marijuana patients with a valid medical marijuana identification to medicate within the state.
Michigan Compiled Laws: Chapter 333, Section 26421, et seq.
The Minnesota legislature passed a bill (which was signed into law in 2014) authorizing the medical use of cannabis by eligible patients. The Minnesota Department of Health has a 5-step process for patients to register, including an online registration.
Minnesota Statutes: Chapter 152, Section 21, et seq.
Missouri voters approved Amendment 2 on Nov. 6, 2018, changing the state constitution to allow for the medical use of marijuana by eligible patients with a physician’s approval.
The law is expected to go into effect on Dec. 6, 2018, but the infrastructure and licensing will take longer to implement.
Initiative 148 took effect on the day it was passed by voters in 2004. Patients must submit written medical certification by a licensed physician, pay an application fee and fill out an application form in order to become registered and be issued a valid medical marijuana identification card. Current patients must renew their application each year.
Montana allows visiting qualifying medical marijuana patients with a valid medical marijuana identification to medicate within the state.
Montana Code Annotated: Title 50, Section 46-301, et seq.
Question 9 was approved by voters in 2000 and took effect the following year. Patients with “written documentation” from their physician may qualify and are encouraged to register (confidentially) with the state, which issues identification cards.
Nevada Revised Statutes: Title 40, Section 453A.010, et seq.
House Bill 573, legalizing medical use of marijuana, was signed into law on July 23, 2013. Patients must obtain a recommendation from a physician with which they’ve had a medical relationship for more than 3 months. Visit the Therapeutic Cannabis Program site to learn more.
Out of state patients with valid documentation may legally possess marijuana but may not be served at N.H. dispensaries.
New Hampshire Revised Statutes: Title X, Chapter 126-X.
Senate Bill 119 was signed into law in 2010 but was amended and delayed by lawmakers later that year.
Eligible patients with a physician’s recommendation must submit an application to the state, which issues identification cards. Rules for New Jersey’s medical marijuana program were posted in early 2011.
New Jersey Statutes: Title 24, Section 6I-1, et seq.
Senate Bill 523, called the “Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act,” was signed into law in 2007 and took effect later that year. New Mexico maintains a confidential state registry and issues identification cards to qualified patients.
Patients who are under the age of 18 may qualify for the medical marijuana program with written consent from a parent or guardian, in addition to a physician’s recommendation.
New Mexico Statutes: Chapter 26, Section 2B-1, et seq.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and the legislature enacted the Compassionate Care Act in 2014, which legalizes the medical use of prepared cannabis products by eligible patients. State law does not allow the possession or use of whole plant marijuana, however, just pills, oils, tinctures, and other such preparations.
New York medical marijuana law also requires patients (and caregivers, if applicable) to register with the state in order to access medicine.
New York Consolidated Laws: PBH Section 3360, et seq.
The North Dakota Compassionate Care Act, or Statutory Measure 5 on the ballot, was approved by voters by a wide margin (64 percent) on Nov. 8, 2016.
The law requires eligible patients with a doctor’s recommendation to apply for a state I.D. card in order to lawfully obtain their medicine. Designated caregivers may treat up to five patients.
North Dakota Century Code: Title 19, Section 24.1-01, et seq.
Ohio Governor John Kasich signed HB 523 into law in June 2016, allowing for the medicinal use of marijuana by those who have a doctor’s prescription. The law prohibits smoking, favoring the use of vaporizers and edible forms of the drug.
The law requires the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program to be fully operational by Sept. 8, 2018.
Measure 67 was passed by voters in 1998, taking effect later that same year. Eligible patients must obtain a signed recommendation from their physician saying medical marijuana “may mitigate” a given medical condition. A confidential, state-run registry issues identification cards to qualifying patients.
Eligible patients who are arrested for marijuana possession or cultivation and are not registered with the state may argue an “affirmative defense of medical necessity,” but may already be protected as a result of the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana.
Oregon Revised Statutes: Section 475B.400.
House Bill 6052 took effect immediately after its passage in 2006. Patients who possess a “written certification” from their physician recommending the use of medical marijuana are required to sign up with the state’s confidential registry, which issues identification cards.
Rhode Island allows visiting qualifying medical marijuana patients with a valid medical marijuana identification to medicate within the state.
Rhode Island General Laws: Title 21, Chapter 28.6-1, et seq.
Utah voters passed Proposition 2 on Nov. 6, 2018, which allows eligible patients with a physician’s recommendation (and a state-issued ID card) to purchase cannabis from state-licensed dispensaries or grow their own if there are no dispensaries in their vicinity. Patients aren’t allowed to smoke cannabis under the law (which leaves vaporizing, ingestion, etc.).
*The provisions of Utah’s medical cannabis law are subject to change (via the legislature) after the law is implemented on Dec. 1, 2018.
Senate Bill 76 became law in the absence of the governor’s signature in 2004 and took effect later that year.
Eligible physicians must sign up with Vermont’s mandatory, confidential registry, which also issues identification cards.
Measure 692 was approved by voters in 1998 and took effect the day of its passage. Patients who obtain “valid documentation” from their physician, naturopath, physician’s assistant or advanced registered nurse practitioner are eligible to use medical marijuana. There is currently no state-run medical marijuana registry.
Washington Revised Code: Title 69, Section 51A.005, et seq.
Governor Jim Justice signed the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act into law on April 19, 2017, but will not be enacted until July 2019 at the earliest.
When it goes into effect, qualifying patients with a written certification from their physician may register with the state to legally use medical marijuana. The state plans to regulate dispensaries but will not allow home cultivation.
*Recreational marijuana also legal at the state level.
Note: More than 15 states (including Texas, Missouri, and Georgia) have legalized CBD oil, a cannabis derivative with negligible amounts of THC (which produces the marijuana “high”). These states are not listed in the table above.
Questions About Medical Marijuana Laws Where You Live? An Attorney Can Help
As you can see, many states have been relaxing their laws to allow for the medical use of marijuana, but where they draw the line isn’t always clear. If you have questions about the marijuana laws where you live or are facing criminal drug charges, it’s critical to get ahead of the curve in protecting your rights with a legal professional who knows the law and how it applies to you. Get in touch with an experienced cannabis law attorney near you to learn more.
Medical marijuana is legal in a growing number of states, with varying levels of control and regulation. Learn about the medical cannabis laws in your state and more from FindLaw.com.
Medical Marijuana Age Requirement
Home / Blog / Medical Marijuana Age Requirement
Medical Marijuana Age Requirement
Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 05/17/2018 in Medical Marijuana
Updated on August 26, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Currently, many states in the U.S. allow residents to possess medical marijuana. The age requirement for medical marijuana is 18 years in these states, so adults with qualifying medical conditions can use the limited number of ounces allowed in each state for medical use. However, the regulations for obtaining a medical marijuana card or a “weed card” differ from state to state.
How Old Do You Need to Be to Get Medical Marijuana?
In the states that have legalized medical marijuana, a doctor’s recommendation is required for anyone to be certified to take medical marijuana for an acceptable condition. In most of these states, minors can use medical marijuana, but they must take it under the care and supervision of a registered caregiver who’s at least 18 years old.
In nine states and Washington D.C., Americans can legally possess a certain quantity of marijuana for recreational use, as well. These states include Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia. In all these states, the minimum age requirement is 21 years.
This age is not a random selection — it was chosen because the brain of many young adults continues to grow even after the age of 18. This means smoking marijuana without discretion will have less of an effect on the minds of people in their mid-20s compared to those who are still teenagers.
Medical and Recreational Marijuana Age Requirements by State
As stated above, the age requirement to qualify for medical marijuana vary depends on the state in which a person lives. Here is a list of the legal states, along with the regulations and age requirements for accessing cannabis as a patient and as a caregiver:
- Alaska: Residents need to be 21 years or older to get a medical marijuana card to take care of minors who need marijuana for medical use.
- Arizona: Residents must be 18 years old to obtain their medical marijuana card to take care of any underage patients under their supervision.
- Arkansas: Residents need to be up to 21 years of age to get a medical cannabis card to serve as caregivers to any minor who requires marijuana for medical use.
- California: Residents who have reached the age of 18 years can apply for and receive a medical marijuana card to take care of the needs of minors.
- Colorado: State residents who are 18 years old can receive a medical marijuana card to take care of a maximum of five minors under their supervision.
- Connecticut: Any resident who is 18 years old can obtain a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana to treat a minor who has a condition that qualifies for the use of medical cannabis.
- Delaware: To obtain a medical marijuana card, a resident of this state must be 18 years old, and the card may be used to purchase medical cannabis for a minor.
- District of Columbia: An 18-year-old resident of Washington D.C. can register as a caregiver to take care of a minor who needs medical marijuana.
- Florida: Florida residents who have attained the age of 18 years can apply to get a medical cannabis recommendation to take care of a minor in their care.
- Hawaii: In Hawaii, an 18-year-old resident can be a caregiver to one patient who is eligible to enjoy medical marijuana treatment.
- Illinois: Residents of Illinois who want to serve as caregivers to a qualifying minor must be 21 years or older.
- Maine: In Maine, the minimum age for medical marijuana caregivers who need to obtain cannabis for a minor is 21 years.
- Maryland: To apply for a medical marijuana card to care for a minor in need of cannabis in Maryland, residents need to be at least 21 years old.
- Massachusetts: Residents that are 21 years or older can register for a medical marijuana card in Massachusetts and provide care for a minor who needs medical cannabis.
- Michigan: In Michigan, medical marijuana caregivers must be 21 years old to obtain their registration card and obtain cannabis for minors.
- Minnesota: Residents of Minnesota must be 18 years old before they can be in possession of medical marijuana and act as caregivers for minors who need it.
- Montana: A resident of this state, who is also a minor’s legal guardian, may apply for a medical marijuana card and obtain cannabis for a minor.
- Nevada: An 18-year-old resident of Nevada can register as a caregiver and get medical marijuana for an underage patient.
- New Hampshire: In New Hampshire, residents who have reached the age of 21 years can register as medical marijuana caregivers for five minors.
- New Jersey: Residents who want to buy and keep medical marijuana for minors in New Jersey must be 18 years or older.
- New Mexico: Residents must be at least 18 years old before they’re allowed to apply as caregivers for minors who need medical marijuana.
- New York: Residents who are 21 years old can provide care for a maximum of 5 minors who need to use medical marijuana.
- North Dakota: The minimum age for caregivers in North Dakota is 21 years. Each caregiver must obtain a medical cannabis card to be able to get medical marijuana for minors who are less than 19 years of age.
- Ohio: In Ohio, anyone who wants to get medical marijuana for a minor must be 21 years or older.
- Oregon: Residents in Oregon must be 18-years-old to get their registration card for medical marijuana and use it to obtain medication for minors.
- Pennsylvania: The regulations in Pennsylvania allow residents who are 18 years or older to serve as caregivers for minors who need medical cannabis.
- Rhode Island: To serve as a caregiver for a total of five patients, residents of Rhode Island need to be 21 years old to obtain a recommended dose of medical marijuana.
- Vermont: A resident of Vermont who is 18 years or older can act as a caregiver for a minor who needs medical cannabis.
- Washington: In Washington, residents who are 21 years old can apply to become caregivers to just one minor who has obtained a medical marijuana card.
- West Virginia: Caregivers for eligible minors must be 18 years old to get their medical cannabis card and obtain marijuana for qualified minors who need the medication.
Find a Nearby Marijuana Doctor
Patients can find out if they qualify for medical marijuana by talking with a reliable cannabis doctor in their area.
Wondering what the age requirement is for medical marijuana? Depending on your state and your situation, the age requirement varies. Read on to learn what it is for your state today!