New Book Explains Marijuana Laws For Every U.S. State


by Aaron Kase

on October 30, 2015

Do you know what the marijuana laws are in your state? In a complex and rapidly-changing environment, it can be difficult to keep track of exactly what is legal and what isn’t as states offer a hodgepodge of medical marijuana, decriminalization, and outright legalization.

For example, an act like sparking up a joint is legal in Colorado. However, as soon as you step foot over the border into Kansas, you could be facing felony charges and jail time for simple possession. That’s a steep price to pay for a mere accident of geography.

To demystify the landscape, Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), has compiled everything you need to know about the legal status of marijuana in a new book, The Citizen’s Guide to State-By-State Marijuana Laws.


The publication has the details about when and where it’s sanctioned to ingest or possess cannabis: Is it legal or do you need a doctor’s recommendation? How difficult is it to receive a medical card in your state? If you choose to use marijuana in states where it is still prohibited, what are the potential consequences if you are stopped by police?

The book answers all these questions and more, ensuring that you won’t become a victim of your state’s legal system due to ignorance. If you know the law and know your rights, you are armed with the information you need to consume cannabis in safety, without joining the over 25 million Americans who have been arrested for marijuana offenses since 1965 — that’s more than the total population of Florida or New York State!

“In the last year for which federal data is available, police made over 693,000 marijuana-related arrests,” Armentano writes in the book. “That’s 1,900 pot arrests per day. More than 80 percent of those arrested for marijuana violations are charged with minor possession only. These are not people involved in marijuana trafficking, growing or sales. They are ordinary citizens who decided to consume a substance that is safer than alcohol and that is less toxic than most conventional medicines. It’s time to say enough.”

Although cannabis remains strictly prohibited under federal law, in practice almost all arrests, prosecutions, and incarcerations fall under state jurisdiction. That’s why, as NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre points out in the book’s forward, “In 2015, cannabis prohibition and its law enforcement is almost entirely a function of geography.”

“The very ground one stands upon when interfacing with police largely instructs what the legal outcome will be, and the map of America’s cannabis laws today can only be described as a remarkable patchwork of both prohibition and legalization,” St. Pierre writes. “Therefore, The Citizen’s Guide to State-By-State Marijuana Laws is still the unfortunate but necessary companion for the millions of American cannabis consumers and medical patients greatly looking forward to an end to the national prohibition of the noble herb and its concoctions.”

Photo: Paul Armentano

Photo: Paul Armentano

The Citizen’s Guide to State-By-State Marijuana Laws, written by Paul Armentano, is published by Whitman Publishing in association with Reset.Me. Find this useful and enlightening book for sale in bookstores and dispensaries, or online at