States That Legally Regulate Medical and/or Adult Social Use of Marijuana

Related Chapters:
CBD (Cannabidiol)
Marijuana Policy Reform - Decriminalization, Legalization, and Medicalization
Medical Marijuana

Looking for information on synthetic cannabinoids (e.g. "Kush," "spice," "K2," etc.)? Check our chapter on New Psychoactive Substances

Looking for specific, detailed information on cannabidiol (CBD)? In addition to the items below, check out Project CBD.

41. Estimated Risk of Arrest for Marijuana Possession

"To provide a sense of the intensity of enforcement, we calculated the risk a marijuana user faces of being arrested for possession. If calculated per joint consumed, the figure nationally is trivial—perhaps one arrest for every 11,000–12,000 joints.4 However, the relevant risk may be the probability of being arrested during a year of normal consumption. Since marijuana is mostly consumed by individuals who use it at least once a month,5 we estimated the risk that such individuals face. We know from prior studies (e.g., Reuter, Hirschfield, and Davies, 2001) that these risks are higher for youth. Table 2.2 presents separate estimates for those aged 12–17 and for the entire population 12 and over. We observe that the annual risk of misdemeanor arrest for those 12–17 (6.6 percent) is more than twice the rate for the full population (3.0 percent)."

Kilmer, Beau; Caulkins, Jonathan P.; Pacula, Rosalie Liccardo; MacCoun, Robert J.; Reuter, Peter H., "Altered State? Assessing How Marijuana Legalization in California Could Influence Marijuana Consumption and Public Budgets" Drug Policy Research Center (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2010), p. 8.

42. Impact of Medical Marijuana Laws on Crime Rates

"The central finding gleaned from the present study was that MML is not predictive of higher crime rates and may be related to reductions in rates of homicide and assault. Interestingly, robbery and burglary rates were unaffected by medicinal marijuana legislation, which runs counter to the claim that dispensaries and grow houses lead to an increase in victimization due to the opportunity structures linked to the amount of drugs and cash that are present. Although, this is in line with prior research suggesting that medical marijuana dispensaries may actually reduce crime in the immediate vicinity [8]."

Robert G. Morris, Michael TenEyck, JC Barnes, and Tomislav V. Kovandzic, "The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws On Crime: Evidence From State Panel Data, 1990-2006," PLoS ONE 9(3): e92816. March 2014. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0092816

43. Effect of Medical Marijuana Legalization On Crime Rates

"In sum, these findings run counter to arguments suggesting the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes poses a danger to public health in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crimes. To be sure, medical marijuana laws were not found to have a crime exacerbating effect on any of the seven crime types. On the contrary, our findings indicated that MML precedes a reduction in homicide and assault. While it is important to remain cautious when interpreting these findings as evidence that MML reduces crime, these results do fall in line with recent evidence [29] and they conform to the longstanding notion that marijuana legalization may lead to a reduction in alcohol use due to individuals substituting marijuana for alcohol [see generally 29, 30]. Given the relationship between alcohol and violent crime [31], it may turn out that substituting marijuana for alcohol leads to minor reductions in violent crimes that can be detected at the state level. That said, it also remains possible that these associations are statistical artifacts (recall that only the homicide effect holds up when a Bonferroni correction is made)."

Robert G. Morris, Michael TenEyck, JC Barnes, and Tomislav V. Kovandzic, "The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws On Crime: Evidence From State Panel Data, 1990-2006," PLoS ONE 9(3): e92816. March 2014. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0092816

44. Effect Of Medical Marijuana Legalization On Crime Rates

"Given that the current results failed to uncover a crime exacerbating effect attributable to MML, it is important to examine the findings with a critical eye. While we report no positive association between MML and any crime type, this does not prove MML has no effect on crime (or even that it reduces crime). It may be the case that an omitted variable, or set of variables, has confounded the associations and masked the true positive effect of MML on crime. If this were the case, such a variable would need to be something that was restricted to the states that have passed MML, it would need to have emerged in close temporal proximity to the passage of MML in all of those states (all of which had different dates of passage for the marijuana law), and it would need to be something that decreased crime to such an extent that it ‘‘masked’’ the true positive effect of MML (i.e., it must be something that has an opposite sign effect between MML [e.g., a positive correlation] and crime [e.g., a negative correlation]). Perhaps the more likely explanation of the current findings is that MML laws reflect behaviors and attitudes that have been established in the local communities. If these attitudes and behaviors reflect a more tolerant approach to one another’s personal rights, we are unlikely to expect an increase in crime and might even anticipate a slight reduction in personal crimes."

Robert G. Morris, Michael TenEyck, JC Barnes, and Tomislav V. Kovandzic, "The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws On Crime: Evidence From State Panel Data, 1990-2006," PLoS ONE 9(3): e92816. March 2014. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0092816

45. Treatment Admissions for Marijuana in the US, 1992-2002, and Referrals from the Criminal Justice System

" A recent issue of The DASIS Report2 examined marijuana treatment admissions between 1992 and 2002 and found that between these years [1992 and 2002] the rate of substance abuse treatment admissions reporting marijuana as their primary substance of abuse3 per 100,000 population increased 162 percent. Similarly, the proportion of marijuana admissions increased from 6 percent of all admissions in 1992 to 15 percent of all admissions reported to the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) in 2002.
"During this time period, the percentage of marijuana treatment admissions that were referred from the criminal justice system increased from 48 percent of all marijuana admissions in 1992 to 58 percent of all marijuana admissions in 2002."

"Differences in Marijuana Admissions Based on Source of Referral: 2002," The DASIS Report (Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies, June 5, 2005), pp. 1-2.

46. Estimated Number Of People In The US Sentenced To State and Federal Prison For Marijuana Offenses

Total Federal Prisoners 2004 = 170,535
Total State Prisoners 2004 = 1,244,311

Percent of federal prisoners held for drug law violations = 55%
Percent of state prisoners held for drug law violations = 21%

Marijuana/hashish, Percent of federal drug offenders, 2004 = 12.4%
Marijuana/hashish, Percent of state drug offenders, 2004 = 12.7%

(Total prisoners x percent drug law) x percent marijuana = "marijuana prisoners"

Federal marijuana prisoners in 2004 = 11,630
State marijuana prisoners in 2004 = 33,186
Total federal and state marijuana prisoners in 2004 = 44,816

Note: These data only address people in prisons and thus exclude the 700,000+ offenders who may be in local jails because of a marijuana conviction.

Mumola , Christopher J. and Karberg, Jennifer C., "Drug Use and Dependence, State and Federal Prisoners, 2004," Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, January 2007) NCJ 213530, p. 4.
Harrison, Paige M. and Beck, Allan J., "Prisoners in 2004," Bureau of Justice Statistics, (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, October 2005), NCJ 210677, Table 1, page 2.

47. Treatment Admissions in the US with Marijuana as a Primary Substance, 2014

"• Marijuana/hashish was reported as the primary substance of abuse by 15 percent of TEDS admissions aged 12 and older in 2014 [Table 1.1b].
"• The average age at admission for primary marijuana/hashish admissions was 26 years [Table 2.1b], although the peak age at admission for both genders in all race/ethnicities was about 16 to 17 years [Figure 12]. Thirty-two percent of marijuana/hashish admissions were under age 20 (vs. 8 percent of all admissions combined), and primary marijuana/hashish abuse accounted for 78 percent of admissions aged 12 to 14 and 76 percent of admissions aged 15 to 17 years [Table 2.1c].
"• Non-Hispanic Whites accounted for 44 percent of primary marijuana/hashish admissions (30 percent were males and 14 percent were females), and non-Hispanic Blacks accounted for 31 percent (24 percent were males and 8 percent were females) [Table 2.3b].
"• Twenty-four percent of primary marijuana/hashish admissions had first used marijuana/hashish by age 12 and another 30 percent had first used it by age 14 [Table 2.5b].
"• Primary marijuana/hashish admissions were most likely to be referred by the court/criminal justice system (52 percent). Primary marijuana/hashish admissions were less likely than all admis-sions combined to be self- or individually referred to treatment (18 vs. 37 percent) [Table 2.6b].
"• More than 4 in 5 marijuana/hashish admissions (86 percent) received ambulatory treatment; among all admissions combined, 3 in 5 (61 percent) received ambulatory treatment [Table 2.7b].
"• Sixty-three percent of primary marijuana/hashish admissions reported abuse of additional sub-stances. Alcohol was reported by 37 percent [Table 3.8]."

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS): 2004-2014. National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services. BHSIS Series S-84, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 16-4986. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2016, pp. 21-22.

48. Primary Marijuana Cultivation States

"California, Hawaii, Kentucky, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, and West Virginia are the primary marijuana cultivation states (M7 states). Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program (DCE/SP) data show that more than 8 million plants were eradicated in 2008, 89 percent (7,136,133 plants of 8,013,308 plants) of which were eradicated in the M7 States."

National Drug Intelligence Center, "Domestic Cannabis Cultivation Assessment 2009," (Johnstown, PA: July, 2009), p. 1.

49. Marijuana Decriminalization and Effect on Use

"In conclusion, our results suggest that participation in the use of both licit and illicit drugs is price sensitive. Participation is sensitive to own prices and the price of the other drugs. In particular, we conclude that cannabis and cigarettes are complements, and there is some evidence to suggest that cannabis and alcohol are substitutes, although decriminalization of cannabis corresponds with higher alcohol use. Alcohol and cigarettes are found to be complements."

Cameron, Lisa & Williams, Jenny, "Cannabis, Alcohol and Cigarettes: Substitutes or Complements?" The Economic Record (Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia: The Economic Society of Australia, March 2001), p. 32.

50. Marijuana Potency

"Although marijuana grown in the United States was once considered inferior because of a low concentration of THC, advancements in plant selection and cultivation have resulted in higher THC-containing domestic marijuana. In 1974, the average THC content of illicit marijuana was less than one percent. Today most commercial grade marijuana from Mexico/Columbia and domestic outdoor cultivated marijuana has an average THC content of about 4 to 6 percent. Between 1998 and 2002, NIDA-sponsored Marijuana Potency Monitoring System (MPMP) analyzed 4,603 domestic samples. Of those samples, 379 tested over 15 percent THC, 69 samples tested between 20 and 25 percent THC and four samples tested over 25 percent THC."

Lyman, Michael "Practical Drug Enforcement, Third Edition" CRC Press (Boca Raton, FL: 2007), p. 74.

51. Average THC, CBD, and CBN Levels of Seized Domestic Cannabis in the US, 1995-2015

Click here for the complete datatable of Average Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol (CBD), and Cannabinol (CBN) Levels of Seized Samples of Domestic Cannabis in the US, 1995-2015

National Drug Control Strategy Data Supplement 2016, Executive Office of the President: Office of National Drug Control Policy, Jan. 2017, Table 77, p. 87, citing University of Mississippi, National Center for Natural Products Research, Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Quarterly Report #134, Potency Monitoring Program (September 2016).
Quarterly Report #104, Dec. 16, 2008 - March 15, 2009, University of Mississippi Potency Monitoring Project (Oxford, MS: National Center for Natural Products Research, a Division of the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2008), Mahmoud A. ElSohly, PhD, Director, NIDA Marijuana Project (NIDA Contract #N01DA-5-7746), pp. 8 and 10.

52. THC Potency of Seized Cannabis, by Type, 1985-2014

Click here for complete datatable of THC Potency of Tested Cannabis from Federal Seizure and State and Local Eradication Samples, by Type, 1985-2014.

"National Drug Control Strategy Data Supplement 2015," Executive Office of the President, Office of National Drug Control Policy, November 2015, Table 78, p. 92, citing as its sources: University of Mississippi, National Center for Natural Products Research, Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Quarterly Report #129, Potency Monitoring Program July 13, 2015) for data from 1995 to 2014; Quarterly Report 107 (January 12, 2010) for data from 1985 to 1994.

53. Average Potency of Seized Cannabis in the UK, 2008

"• Twenty-three Police Forces in England and Wales participated in the study. Forces were requested to submit samples confiscated from street-level users. In early 2008, they submitted 2,921 samples for analysis to either the Forensic Science Service Ltd (FSS) or LGC Forensics at Culham (LGC F).
"• Initial laboratory examination showed that 80.8% were herbal cannabis and 15.3% were cannabis resin. The remaining 3.9% were either indeterminate or not cannabis.
"• Microscopic examination of around two-thirds of the samples showed that over 97% of the herbal cannabis had been grown by intensive methods (sinsemilla). The remainder was classed as traditional imported herbal cannabis.
"• Regional variations were found in the market share of herbal cannabis. Thus North Wales, South Wales, Cleveland and Devon and Cornwall submitted proportionately fewer herbal cannabis samples, whereas Essex, Metropolitan and Avon and Somerset submitted proportionately more. These differences were statistically significant at the 0.1% confidence interval.
"• The mean THC concentration (potency) of the sinsemilla samples was 16.2% (range = 4.1 to 46%). The median potency was 15.0%, close to values reported by others in the past few years.
"• The mean THC concentration (potency) of the traditional imported herbal cannabis samples was 8.4% (range = 0.3 to 22%); median = 9.0%. Only a very small number of samples were received and analysed.
"• The mean potency of cannabis resin was 5.9% (range = 1.3 to 27.8%). The median = 5.0% was typical of values reported by others over many years.
"• Cannabis resin had a mean CBD content of 3.5% (range = 0.1 to 7.3%), but the CBD content of herbal cannabis was less than 0.1% in nearly all cases.
"• There was a weak, but statistically-significant, correlation (r = 0.48; N = 112; P < 0.001) between the THC and the CBD content of resin."

Hardwick, Sheila; King, Leslie, "Home Office Cannabis Potency Study 2008," Home Office Scientific Development Branch (Sandridge, St Albans, UK: May 2008), p. 1.

54. Trends in Cannabis Potency in the US, 1980-1995

"Data on the THC content of cannabis products in the USA have been collected by ElSohly et al. (1984, 2000) for many years as part of the University of Mississippi Potency Monitoring Project. Samples were submitted by law enforcement agencies and it has to be assumed that they were representative of the market. Mean THC values are shown in Figure 16 for normal herbal cannabis, sinsemilla and resin. The anomalously high value for resin in 1997 (19.24 %) has been excluded; it was based on only five values and is over nine standard deviations above the mean potency for the period 1980–1996. Although there has been an increase in the potency of herbal cannabis over the twenty-five-year period, cannabis resin (and hash oil) showed no long-term trends since 1980 when data were first collected. Although the potency of sinsemilla showed a clear upward trend in the final three years of the study, no such trend was obvious when the longer period of 1980–1995 is examined, particularly in view of the wide variations in potency that occurred from year to year (ElSohly et al., 2000). The THC content of herbal cannabis increased from around 1% before 1980 to around 4% in 1997. This increase, when seen in the European context, is deceptive. Before 1980, all mean herbal cannabis THC levels in the ElSohly study were less than 2.4%. By contrast, and as shown in Figure 10, comparable levels at that time in the United Kingdom were twice as great. In other words, it must be assumed that the quality of herbal cannabis consumed in the USA more than twenty years ago was unusually poor, but that in recent years it has risen to levels typical of Europe. So even the modest increase found by ElSohly et al. (2000) may be less significant than it seems. A recent analysis of cannabis seized in Florida in 2002 (Newell, 2003) showed amounts of THC found in samples ranging from 1.41% to 12.62%; the average THC content was 6.20%, which is almost identical to the 2002 value reported by the University of Mississippi Potency Monitoring Project."

EMCDDA Insights #6: An Overview of Cannabis Potency in Europe, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2004), p. 52.

55. Average Cannabis Potency in Europe and the US

"Statements in the popular media that the potency of cannabis has increased by ten times or more in recent decades are not support by the data from either the USA or Europe. As discussed in the body of this report, systematic data are not available in Europe on long-term trends and analytical and methodological issues complicate the interpretation of the information that is available. Data are stronger for medium and short-term trends where no major differences are apparent in Europe, although some modest increases are found in some countries. The greatest long-term changes in potency appear to have occurred in the USA. It should be noted here that before 1980 herbal cannabis potency in the USA was, according to the available data, very low by European standards."

King, Leslie A., European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, "EMCDDA Insights - An Overview of Cannabis Potency in Europe" (Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2004), p. 14.

56. How do people get marijuana in states where it's not legal?

"Despite continuing increases in the amount of cannabis produced domestically, much of the marijuana available within the United States is foreign-produced. The two primary foreign source areas for marijuana distributed within the United States are Canada and Mexico. Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) have relocated many of their outdoor cannabis cultivation operations in Mexico from traditional growing areas to more remote locations in central and northern Mexico, primarily to reduce the risk of eradication and gain easier access to U.S. drug markets. Asian criminal groups are the primary producers of high-potency marijuana in Canada."

National Drug Intelligence Center, "Domestic Cannabis Cultivation Assessment 2009," (Johnstown, PA: July, 2009), p. 1.

57. Estimated Lethal Dose of Cannabis

"Tetrahydrocannabinol is a very safe drug. Laboratory animals (rats, mice, dogs, monkeys) can tolerate doses of up to 1000 mg/kg (milligrams per kilogram). This would be equivalent to a 70 kg person swallowing 70 grams of the drug —about 5,000 times more than is required to produce a high. Despite the widespread illicit use of cannabis there are very few if any instances of people dying from an overdose."

Iversen, Leslie L., "The Science of Marijuana" Oxford University Press (New York, NY: 2000), p. 178.

58. Marijuana and Overdose Mortality

An exhaustive search of the literature finds no deaths induced by marijuana. The US Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) records instances of drug mentions in medical examiners' reports, and though marijuana is mentioned, it is usually in combination with alcohol or other drugs. Marijuana alone has not been shown to cause an overdose death.

Federal Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN); also see Janet E. Joy, Stanley J. Watson, Jr., and John A. Benson, Jr., "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, Institute of Medicine (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999); and US Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, "In the Matter of Marijuana Rescheduling Petition" (Docket #86-22), September 6, 1988, p. 57.

59. Relative Public Health Risk of Cannabis Use

"There are health risks of cannabis use, most particularly when it is used daily over a period of years or decades. Considerable uncertainty remains about whether these effects are attributable to cannabis use alone, and about what the quantitative relationship is between frequency, quantity and duration of cannabis use and the risk of experiencing these effects.
"On existing patterns of use, cannabis poses a much less serious public health problem than is currently posed by alcohol and tobacco in Western societies."

Hall, W., Room, R. & Bondy, S., "WHO Project on Health Implications of Cannabis Use: A Comparative Appraisal of the Health and Psychological Consequences of Alcohol, Cannabis, Nicotine and Opiate Use," (Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, March 1998).

60. Public Health Impact of Marijuana Use

"The public health burden of cannabis use is probably modest compared with that of alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit drugs. A recent Australian study96 estimated that cannabis use caused 0·2% of total disease burden in Australia—a country with one of the highest reported rates of cannabis use. Cannabis accounted for 10% of the burden attributable to all illicit drugs (including heroin, cocaine, and amphetamines). It also accounted for around 10% of the proportion of disease burden attributed to alcohol (2·3%), but only 2·5% of that attributable to tobacco (7·8%)."

Hall, Wayne and Degenhardt, Louise, "Adverse health effects of non-medical cannabis use," The Lancet (London, United Kingdom: October 17, 2009) Vol. 374, p. 1389.