Where Can I Buy Legal Marijuana?

On January 1st, 2014, Colorado became the first place in the world to allow anyone over 21 to purchase marijuana legally for any purpose, i.e. recreational use.

Wait, wasn’t it already legal in Amsterdam? And what about Uruguay?

Not really, and not yet. Here are the details:

Colorado

line for marijuana in ColoradoColorado retail stores just opened on 1/1/14, to great fanfare and huge lines at stores. It’s an exciting time for cannabis enthusiasts!

Details of how the rules work are here, but the bullet points are:

    • Colorado residents can purchase up to 1 ounce at a time. Out of state residents can purchase 1/4 ounce.
    • Bring cash, because most places can’t take credit cards, due to federal banking regulations.
    • You can’t smoke it in public, or in your car. Take it home or on your property.
    • Don’t take it  across state lines. Cops in Wyoming, Nebraska, etc, won’t be lenient.

 

Washington State

Washington legalized recreational use of marijuana by ballot initiative in 2012, the same time as Colorado.

However, retain shops are still not up and running ,but are expected there later this year, possibly by the summer. There will be up to 334 licences retail stores statewide.

So, while it is legal to possess up to an ounce of weed, there is technically no place to legally purchase it in Washington state as yet. How can you have it without legally purchasing it? By everyone looking the other way, of course. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t get busted for selling it, you certainly can.

California

Recreational use of marijuana is currently not legal in California.

However, possession of under an ounce has been decriminalized, so that possession of under 1oz in an infraction, not a criminal charge. It is punishable by a $100 fine when enforced, with no court appearance or criminal record attached.

The laws for medical marijuana in California are considered relatively lax, so it is not difficult to get a doctor to recommend use for a wide variety of conditions.

Legalization won’t be on the ballot in California in 2014, but activists are aggressively targeting the 2016 election cycle. So you’ll have to wait a while to be free and clear in California if you aren’t a patient.

What about US Federal Law?

It is true that US Federal Law still considers marijuana an illegal and dangerous substance with no legitimate use. (Yes, that is plainly crazy.)

However, as of last summer, the Feds have pledged to back off prosecuting individuals for marijuana charges where the states have said that action is legal under the state laws.

What does the future hold? It’s not clear. There is no question that the current situation is untenable, and the conflict between State and Federal laws cannot stand indefinitely.

There has been a lot noise about the Justice department (which runs the DEA), and Congress doing something about this, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Some experts believe the Fed will have to relent, by 2017, if not sooner.  But it is still possible they could reverse that stance, although that would be disastrous.

The Netherlands (Amsterdam)

Amsterdam Coffee ShopAmsterdam’s “coffee shops” have been known to sell marijuana for years, but technically it not legal. It is tolerated for locals to have up to 5 grams for personal use.

However, the country has been recently cracking down on marijuana tourism, and many places may not sell to tourists now.

Uruguay

The south American country of Uruguay recently legalized marijuana. The law went into effect on April 9th, but laws allowing retail sales may not be fully implemented until next year.

Portugal

Portugal decriminalized drugs in 2001, but they are not strictly legal or available for legal purchase.

North Korea

Shockingly, North Korea appears to tolerate marijuana sale. Is it strictly legal? Who knows. You probably wouldn’t have a problem, but who wants to risk ending up in the North Korean legal system.

 

So Colorado, really IS the first and only place right now where you can walk up to a counter, drop your cash on the table, and leave with a bag of weed – completely legally under all local laws.

About David Matson

David writes about criminal justice issues.
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Comments

  1. Yes legalize marijuana nationwide quit cutting down the trees we can make paper, houses, just about anything out of marijuana and the logging companies can transport it all over the nation. If they have to change there equipment I’m sure they can do it if small towns can afford to keep building small banks more gas stations, gyms, add on to bridges I think they could afford to make transportation equipment strictly for marijuana. Even if they don’t legalize it its still gonna be there. But hey what do I know I’m just a small town guy from Louisiana.

  2. I dont understand why people keep on telling that Colorado is the first, because your info bout Holland ain’t right. It are the same rules as in Colorado, can buy it but use it on your own property. So Fuck Colorado and hallelujah to Holland for being the only country for almost more or less 30 years for legalizing the chance to buy weed in a shop. Still it’s a great thing country’s are legalizing it’s the first step to a better and maybe free world.

  3. It’s a technical point, and maybe it doesn’t matter for most people, but strictly speaking, weed is not legal in Holland. You can buy it in the open, and mostly no one cares, that is true.

    “Cannabis remains a controlled substance in the Netherlands and both possession and production for personal use are still misdemeanors, punishable by fines. Coffee shops are also technically illegal but are flourishing nonetheless. However, a policy of non-enforcement has led to a situation where reliance upon non-enforcement has become common, and because of this the courts have ruled against the government when individual cases were prosecuted.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_policy_of_the_Netherlands

    But we’re all on the same side here. The progress in Colorado is tremendous, and there will be many more.
    Not trying to brag that the US is better – we’ve only been ahead for like 5 minutes. Clearly the Netherlands has been on the forefront of decriminalization and a society that has fully accepted open usage for a long time.

    We’re just happy the tide is really turning here in the US. And Colorado is just the start. Shops in Washington state will open in a few months.
    And this year, we have a good chance to pass full legalization in California, Oregon, and Alaska.
    http://www.drugpossessionlaws.com/discussions/#/discussion/5/where-in-the-us-is-legalization-going-to-happen-next

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