Hey you! This article also comes in a fancy map version. Go check it out right here. RED STATES, BLUE STATES, PURPLE STATES… in 2021, one thing most of us can agree on is the need for more green states. Support for weed legalization is at an all-time high (puns!) with 91% of Americans in favor. States are moving cannabis laws forward-some of them slow, some of them fast-with six states having seen the light of legalization already this year.
Today, medical cannabis programs are on the books in 36 states, and 16 states allow some degree of recreational use. For the first few years the West Coast set the pace, then New England began making moves too-even some red states, once GOP politicians began seeing the tax windfall enjoyed by trailblazers (more puns!) like Colorado and Washington, are suddenly of the opinion that cannabis is not quite so bad.
Welcome to the State of the Weed Union 2021: everything you need to know about which states are stacking hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue by legalizing and/or not imprisoning non-violent drug users, and which states are… not.
But first, a quick primer on terminology. Don’t worry, this isn’t for a test, unless you count the possibility that you misjudge your state’s laws and do in fact end up in prison. In that sense, yes it is for a test.
RECREATIONAL Sixteen states plus DC allow residents to legally light up to varying degrees. Note that “legal” recreational weed does not mean, like, fully and unconditionally blazing in the streets in front of God and your mother. Usually it means if you are over the age of 21, it’s fine to keep modest amounts on your person or in your home, maybe grow a couple of plants, and occasionally smoke in public. You might recognize such rules from your dealings with a similar legal recreational substance, “alcohol.”
MEDICINAL Thirty-six states now have medical programs, but not all are currently operational and some only cover a limited range of medical conditions. Many states without medical legislation still allow for limited use of CBD-aka cannabidiol, the cannabis compound that has a huge variety of medical properties but is not psychoactive (i.e. it doesn’t get you high). CBD is widely used to help manage epilepsy and ease symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, and nausea.
DECRIMINALIZED There’s a lot of breadth and nuance here, but basically it means no jail time. The state hasn’t legalized recreational weed, but it has made possession of small amounts (usually one ounce or less) punishable by, at worst, a citation and a fine. Some states still classify it as a misdemeanor, but removing the threat of incarceration is an important step, since for years this country has been throwing people in prison for carrying as little as a single joint-with Black Americans four times more likely to be arrested as white ones, despite equal rates of cannabis usage. Some decriminalized states also have medical programs.
ILLEGAL Pretty straightforward!
Alabama does in fact have pending legislation to legalize and regulate medicinal cannabis. 75% of Alabama voters support it, but don’t get too excited-it’s gotten past the Senate three times and stalls at the House. Anything would be better than what exists now: Literally one single joint in Alabama is punishable by up to a year in prison. A lot of people are arrested and charged with possession these days, but few are actually convicted-those who are convicted, though, are overwhelmingly black men. A medical program would be an excellent way for Alabama to begin making reparations for Jeff Sessions (born: Selma; died: TBD), but don’t hold your breath.
Big ol’ Alaska was the fourth state to legalize recreational weed for adults 21+, right alongside Oregon (and also DC) back in 2014. The legislation allows for possession of one ounce or less-any more than that is a misdemeanor, four ounces or more is a felony. No growing more than three mature plants. No smoking in public. In 2019, Alaska became the first state to legalize smoking on-site at dispensaries, so that’s neat.
As of January 22, 2021, you’re free to purchase and possess one ounce of bud in Arizona. The caveats are no smoking in public, and you’ve gotta be over 21 to buy. Adults may cultivate up to six plants at home for non-commercial purposes, and starting in July, those previously convicted of possession for up to two and a half ounces might be able to have their criminal record expunged. The state already had a robust medical-cannabis economy serving some 300,000 patients who can legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of any type (flower, edible, or concentrate) and, if they’re more than 25 miles from a dispensary, can grow up to twelve plants at a time.
Arkansas has a decent medical program serving nearly 74,000 patients. But otherwise, it remains a felony if you’re caught carrying over four ounces, punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Possession of less than four ounces is a misdemeanor, carrying up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Cultivation of the plant is punishable as either simple possession or as possession with intent to deliver, depending on how much is there. Too bad-there are probably a lot of eager farmers in the Natural State.
It’s more normal to bring edibles to a dinner party in California than a bottle of wine, but unless you’re a dispensary, it’s a misdemeanor to sell any amount of recreational weed (no penalties for gifting though! So long as it’s under 28.5 grams). It’s legal for adults 21+ to possess up to one ounce and to grow as many as six plants. As for California’s medical program, there are still benefits to registering: A medical card allows you to possess as much as your physician recommends and grow as many plants as it takes to meet your needs. You’re exempt from paying state sales and use taxes. And also the card looks cool.
Colorado: Allowing adults 21+ to have an ounce of weed on them since 2012. It’s also legal to transfer it (i.e. share it around with friends for no financial compensation), which is not necessarily the case in other legalized states. And beginning this year recreational delivery is also legal, but must be voted on by municipality. So far Aurora is the only town to approve delivery, but Denver is slated for a vote later this year. For a place nicknamed The Mile High City, it should be nothing but net.
Connecticut: Medicinal and Decriminalized
C’mon Connecticut, you’re sooo close! Votes get halfway, but there are disagreements on how cannabis tax revenue should be spent. If lawmakers fail to pass a legalization bill, the governor expects voters to decide on the issue via referendum. The state has already taken the crucial step of decriminalizing cannabis for very small amounts. Possession of half an ounce or less is punishable by a fine of $150 (first offense) or $500 (subsequent offenses) but no jail time. Growing or distributing herb remains a felony. Meanwhile, the state’s medical dispensaries currently serve around 37,000 patients.
Delaware: Medicinal and Decriminalized
Legal weed is proving to be kind of a journey for Delaware: A bill to legalize possession for up to one ounce is currently heading to the House. So far the state has decriminalized possession of one ounce or less-meaning no jail time, just a fine of $100. The state has medical cannabis legislation allowing for possession of up to six ounces (no home-growing though) and patients must register with a state-licensed, not-for-profit compassion center. The number of registered patients has ballooned during the last few years.
Weird™ is already Florida’s well-established brand, but it is still not a place where you can legally, ya know, get weird. Recreational possession of 20 grams or less (0.7 ounces; don’t act like you knew) is a misdemeanor that can land you in prison for a year, but decriminalization is coming in small increments depending on where you are. In Orlando, for example, police officers can choose to give out citations with a $100 fine for less than 20 grams instead of making an arrest. More than 20 grams is a felony: five years, possibly more. The state’s medical program currently serves more than 320,000 patients with any of a dozen or so qualifying conditions. No home-growing, though.
So, this is an odd one. Georgia does technically have medical cannabis legislation on the books, but we’re making a judgement call to say it’s still illegal because it’s kind of worthless: Patients can possess CBD oils containing no more than 5% THC. It’s still illegal to buy, sell, grow, or import cannabis from another state, and no home-growing. Possession of one ounce or less is a misdemeanor; anything more than that is a felony. First-time offenders can usually opt for probation rather than jail time, so at least that’s something.
Hawaii: Medicinal and Decriminalized
A bill to fully legalize weed in Hawaii is heading to the Senate. And in January 2020, the Aloha State decriminalized possession of under three grams; instead of receiving 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and potentially a criminal record, folks will face just a $130 fine. Possession won’t get you a felony charge unless you’re caught with a pound of it (though it remains a felony to sell or deliver more than one ounce). And first-time offenders who successfully make it through probation get a clean slate: The state will expunge their record. Hawaii has an operational medical program serving more than 26,000 patients, who can grow up to seven plants (mature or otherwise).
Weed is very, very illegal here. In fact, Idaho is the last remaining state not to have any sort of legislation that even acknowledges the existence of medical weed. Possession of three ounces or less is a misdemeanor; more than three ounces is a felony-whether you’re using it recreationally or not. There’s also a proposed constitutional amendment that would prevent the legalization of weed and other drugs without the approval of two-thirds of the Idaho Legislature. So.
On January 1, 2020, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize adult use of recreational weed, and in their first year cleared $1 billion in sales. That’s a lot! Residents 21+ can freely purchase flower in amounts up to one ounce, but it’s illegal to consume in public. Home-growing is also illegal unless you’re an enrolled medical patient, in which case you can have yourself five plants. Lawmakers are considering plans to create 150 new retail stores, allow for cannabis tours, and make it a crime to get a pet sick from pot. Which, yes please do.
Indiana is the cop that keeps rolling up on its neighbors (Illinois and Michigan) whenever they have a party. Getting caught with any amount of weed is a misdemeanor (180 days in jail; $1,000 fine) and more than 30 grams may result in up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000. For those with prior offenses, possession-no matter the amount-is a felony. (BOO.)
Most Iowans support a robust medical program, and over half support recreational legalization. But as it stands, possessing any amount of bud is a misdemeanor (with a possible six months’ jail time for even first-time offenders); growing or selling any amount is a felony. The state’s medical program is so strict, it hardly counts: Even licensed distributors are prohibited from doling out CBD products containing more than 4.5 grams of THC to a patient in a 90-day period.
But it’s also true that states invariably feel the pressure when a neighbor legalizes, since precious tax revenue is lost when residents simply drive a few miles across the border to procure what they can’t get at home. Since Illinois stepped up to the plate in 2020, Iowa’s timeline to legalization might be that much shorter.
You’ll have to make like Dorothy and hop on a tornado bound for Oz if you want to get high in Kansas, but that could change soon: The Kansas Equal Access Act, introduced in early 2021, would allow qualified and registered patients to possess and grow medical weed. (The bill would also protect users from discrimination when applying for housing, health insurance, employment, social welfare programs, and more.) In the meantime, possession of any amount is a misdemeanor; possession of more than 450 grams (a bit over 16 ounces) with intent to distribute is a felony.
In late 2020, a bill that would allow medical cannabis in Kentucky passed the House-only to be ignored by the Senate, once again delaying the state’s progress towards legalization. Aside from some state-sponsored hemp research and the use of some CBD products, weed remains broadly illegal here. Possession of eight ounces or less is a misdemeanor, though it’s worth mentioning the charge carries a punishment of only 45 days in jail and up to a $250 fine, which is… less than it is in some other states.
Louisiana’s medical program became active in 2019; in 2020, the state expanded the list of qualified conditions and made it legal for physicians to recommend cannabis to any patient they believe will benefit from that good good. But in general, the program remains extraordinarily restrictive, with only a handful of licensed dispensaries in the state. Patients aren’t allowed to grow plants at home and are only permitted to buy a 30-day supply in non-smokable form. On the plus side (?) first-time offenders in Louisiana charged with possession of 14 grams (a hair under half an ounce) or less only face 15 days’ jail time and a $300 fine. And hey, no open container laws!
If you are of legal drinking age, you are also of legal possessing-2.5-ounces-or-less-of-recreational-cannabis age in Maine. Although the pandemic delayed any spectacular grand openings, retail sales began in late 2020; public consumption is still illegal, though, so don’t expect to toke and eat lobster rolls on the beach simultaneously. (But we can definitely dream. And, you know, sneak.) The cap for medical usage is 2.5 ounces, with home-growing limited to six mature plants, and dispensaries serving more than 45,000 registered patients.
Maryland: Medicinal and Decriminalized
Most residents of Maryland support legal weed-and their dreams are thiiiiiis close to becoming a reality. In early 2021, the state legislature introduced a bill that would legalize recreational use and turn Maryland into MaryJaneland. (It was worth a try.) The proposed law would allow folks 21+ to possess up to two ounces, and 63% of revenue generated from the bill would be reinvested into community initiatives. For now, Maryland has decriminalized recreational possession for amounts less than 10 grams. Anything more is still a misdemeanor, but you’ll need to be caught packing a full 50 pounds (not a typo) to be charged with a felony. The medical legislation doesn’t allow home-growing (or, oddly, edibles), but patients are allowed to possess up to a 30-day supply.
The state’s first retail shops opened in late 2018; as of 2020, there were nearly 80 dispensaries with more on the way. Those of you in Massachusetts age 21+ can legally possess one ounce of bud and keep up to 10 ounces at home. Home-growers can have up to six plants. The medical program allows for a maximum of 35 dispensaries, which currently serve nearly 70,000 registered patients. During the pandemic, the state’s Cannabis Control Commission also created a new license allowing third-party services to deliver weed directly to people at home, and that’s how we know God is real.
In 2018, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize recreational grass. Individuals can possess up to 2.5 ounces (or 10 ounces at home) and cultivate up to 12 plants. Retail shops are open for business (though not statewide-some counties have opted out of adult-use sales). Still, a few little details: Possession of more than five ounces is a misdemeanor on the first offense. “Sale without remuneration,” meaning sharing your stash, comes with a $500 fine for amounts between 2.5 and five ounces. And any sale that’s actually a sale is a felony (although if you love your local plug too much to let go, we honestly feel that).
Minnesota: Medicinal and Decriminalized
There is cool stuff to do in Minnesota, but legally lighting up is not yet among them unless you have a medical license. The state’s medicinal program is relatively modest-only a 30-day supply at a time, no smoking, no home-growing. Recreational possession of an amount equal to or less than 1.5 ounces is technically a misdemeanor, but carries no jail time (just a $200 fine); first-time offenders can usually have the offense expunged from their record. But as of March 2021, it seems that recreational legalization will happen sooner rather than later: A new bill allowing Minnesotans 21+ to possess up to 1.5 ounces of herb is moving quickly through the state House.
Mississippi: Medicinal and Decriminalized
In November 2020, Mississippi legalized medical marijuana (!!!). Once the Department of Health begins rolling out identification cards and licenses in August 2021, patients with qualifying conditions will be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of weed at once. The state has long had laws to decriminalize possession in small amounts; currently, possession of 30 grams or less for first-time offenders won’t get you any jail time, just a $250 fine.
Missouri: Medicinal and Decriminalized
In a state where you can purchase an entire meal made out of donuts, one might say the state’s reluctance to legalize recreational weed is hurting small businesses. Missouri did legalize medicinal weed in 2018, after having already permitted low-THC CBD for certain conditions, and-bonus!-state-sponsored hemp research. And as the number of states with recreational use (and fat wallets) continues to grow, so do the calls for legalization in Missouri-but as it stands, 2021 doesn’t look to be the year. Here’s to 2022! For now, there’s a hefty fine, but no jail time, for first-time offenders carrying up to 10 grams (about one-third of an ounce).
Have you been to Montana? It is beautiful-and it just got a helluva lot better. As of January 1, 2021, it’s legal for Montanans aged 21+ to possess and grow up to one ounce of flower or eight grams of concentrate. Recreational sales are expected to begin around October. (Don’t get too carried away, though-possession of more than one ounce is still considered a felony punishable by up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.) The bill also called for the resentencing or expungement of those currently convicted for cannabis-related offenses. For registered medical users, of which Montana has more than 31,000, it’s business as usual: Feel free to cultivate up to four mature plants plus four seedlings at home.
… but just barely. First-time offenders caught with one ounce or less face a $300 fine and no jail time, but second and third offenses for the same amount can carry sentences of five and seven days, respectively (plus $500 fines). After the state Supreme Court stripped a medical weed constitutional amendment from the 2020 ballot at the last minute, advocates are gearing up to put medical back on the ballot in 2022, while also pushing for full legalization in the state legislature.
Nevada sure took its time loosening up its weed laws, but now we’re in business: Adults 21+ are clear to carry one ounce of recreational weed. In classic Nevada fashion, many dispensaries around Vegas are over-the-top and expensive; this state loves to tax vice (and Californians) so those in search of discounts might want to bring a medical card (as out-of-state cards are accepted in the Silver State). The scene isn’t quite as “anything-goes” as you might expect; smoking in public and/or getting caught with more than one ounce will land you amisdemeanor, which means a $600 fine but no jail time.
New Hampshire: Medicinal and Decriminalized
Legal weed legislation passed in the House in 2020, but the full legislature seems in no mood to move forward anytime soon. Still, the state is surrounded by woke weed-legal neighbors, and with a motto like “Live Free or Die” it seems like only a matter of time. For now, New Hampshire enjoys decriminalized possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce for first and second offenses ($100 fine, no jail time). Sale, or even possession with intent to sell, is automatically a felony charge no matter the amount or track record. The state’s medical program allows for registered patients to carry up to two ounces. No home-growing, though.
New Jersey: Recreational
The Garden State officially joined the cannabis club earlier this year, after passage of a referendum on the 2020 ballot. Still, you won’t be able to buy the stuff until early 2022 at least, as the state’s new Cannabis Regulatory Commission needs a sec to get its sea legs. In the meantime, Jersey’s medicinal program continues to treat patients suffering from a number of qualifying conditions, but limits possession to three ounces per month. The current recreational law does not allow for home-growing, though additional legislation is being explored that would allow for six plants.
New Mexico: Recreational
The Land of Enchantment, indeed! Just days before 4/20/21, New Mexico’s governor swiftly signed the bill legalizing recreational use. It may seem surprising that it took this long in a state where weird shit likeMeow Wolf is commonplace, but better late than never. The state’s current medical program recognizes more than two dozen conditions, allowing for eight ounces every 90 days. Registered patients can grow as many as 16 plants at home so long as only four are mature at the same time.
New York: Recreational
As of March 31, New York is officially on the legal weed market-and what a market it shall be, with NYC residents consuming more weed than any other city on earth: 77.44 metric tons a year, twice as much as LA and 12 times more than Denver. Legal possession of up to three ounces is effective immediately, with home growing also legalized for up to six plants. Regulated sales will begin in 2022, at which time additional services such as licensed delivery and cannabis lounges are expected to become part of a massive $4.2 billion industry. The state’s medical program has also been expanded, and weed-related convictions for crimes that are no longer crimes will be automatically expunged. Backs patted.
North Carolina: Decriminalized
North Carolina has decriminalized cannabis in amounts up to half an ounce, though that’s still a misdemeanor carrying a $200 fine. Sale and/or cultivation of any kind is a felony, as one would expect in a state with a massive tobacco lobby. The state allows low-THC CBD for intractable epilepsy, but does not give patients anywhere to buy it. While several campaigns for a full-fledged medical program have formed over the years, nothing’s managed to get past the state legislature. One small glimmer of hope: A new senate bill to create a legal and medical cannabis program was introduced this spring.
North Dakota: Medicinal and Decriminalized
North Dakota’s first medical cannabis dispensary opened in March 2019, though it allows for no more than eight dispensaries across the state. In May 2019, North Dakota became the 25th state to decriminalize possession in small amounts. You can now carry up to .5 ounces without fear of jail time, though that still comes with a hefty $1,000 fine. Sale of any amount is a felony, as is possession of any amount within 1,000 feet of a school. Activists are gearing up to place a legalization initiative on the ballot for 2022.
Ohio: Medicinal and Decriminalized
In 2019, state-licensed dispensaries at last opened their doors: Ohio’s medical program now serves more than 160,000 patients, and they’re currently considering a rule change that would remove a cap on the number of medical dispensaries permitted to operate in the Buckeye State. The state had already decriminalized weed in amounts up to 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces)-a misdemeanor charge that comes with a $150 fine, but at least no jail time. Double that amount and things start to get dicey: a year or more in prison and a fine of at least $2,500.
Oklahoma was already in our residual good graces because they built a boat district with a dope whitewater rafting course in the middle of their capital city, but in late 2018 they unveiled a medicinal cannabis program that’s among the most liberal in the country. There’s no restrictive list of qualifying medical conditions, which has allowed more than 340,000 patients to enroll. And unlike a lot of other states where commercial rollout can stay stuck in limbo for months or years after a ballot measure is approved, Oklahoma hit the ground running, with hundreds of dispensaries springing up across the state almost overnight. No luck on decriminalization so far though, with the governor vetoing a weed policy reform bill in 2020 and a 2022 legalization ballot initiative deemed invalid by the state Supreme Court.
God bless Oregon, legalizer of Satan’s spinach since 2014. There’s no fine and no jail time in the Beaver State for carrying up to one ounce of weed; up to two ounces means a $650 fine, but jail time doesn’t kick in until the amount is greater than that. Green thumbs can grow up to four plants at home without risking any fine or penalty; for registered medicinal users, those numbers jump to 24 ounces and up to six plants, plus 18 seedlings.
Pennsylvania’s medical program is one of the largest in the country, with more than 100 dispensaries serving patients across the Keystone State. But they can’t grow their own plants at home, and are only permitted to keep a month’s supply at a time. Which is why even prescription holders tend to resort to less legal methods to get bud in Pennsylvania. Legalization bills have so far failed to make it past the House, but hope is on the horizon with a bipartisan legalization bill recently introduced in the legislature and the governor voicing support.
Rhode Island: Medicinal and Decriminalized
Lest all of RISD’s student population end up in the clink, Rhode Island has decriminalized amounts up to one ounce. Sales and cultivation still carry felony charges. More than 18,000 patients are registered under the state’s medical program, which allows for up to 2.5 ounces, 12 plants and 12 seedlings at home, under the right conditions. A new proposal to legalize recreational cannabis, modeled after the Massachusetts program, has recently been introduced, with the governor proposing his own legalization plan as part of the state’s 2022 fiscal year budget.
South Carolina: Illegal
Shocking somewhere between zero and zero people, first-time offenders in South Carolina caught with one ounce of weed or less face 30 days’ jail time and a $200 fine. If you get caught again after that, it’s one year and $2,000. All sales are felonies, all forms of cultivation are felonies… you get the idea. There is a medical allowance for low-THC CBD, but that’s really it. There are recent rumblings of a medical bill in the House, but don’t get your hopes up for anything major to happen anytime soon.
South Dakota: Medicinal
South Dakota is one of the most underrated states in some respects, and definitely the more underrated Dakota. Last November, voters approved a legalization measure that would have set up both recreational and medical programs; unfortunately, the recreational portion was struck down as unconstitutional. An appeal to the state Supreme Court appears likely. While supporters are rightfully keeping their eyes on the prize, getting a medical program passed in a red state like South Dakota is no small feat.
Tennessee is decidedly unchill. Possession of even half an ounce is a misdemeanor that’ll get first-time offenders a one-year sentence and a $250 fine. Despite many efforts in 2020 to loosen the laws, including a Republican-backed medical cannabis bill, opposed lawmakers are doing their damndest to delay progress. The state does allow for some hemp and CBD.
Texas produced Willie Nelson, and so far that is the extent of its legacy in terms of normalizing weed usage. The state’s cannabis laws have remained pretty much unchanged since 1931; the faintest glimmer of an exception was the Compassionate Use Act in 2015, regarded as one of the most restrictive pieces of medical marijuana legislation in the US. Hemp farming and CBD products are considered legal, while possession of two ounces of bud or less can result in a 180-day sentence and a $2,000 max fine.
Recreational use remains illegal in Utah, but medical cannabis is available to patients with qualifying conditions. While the system hasn’t been perfect-patients have struggled to find doctors who were actually willing to prescribe-the state finally opened its first medical dispensaries in 2020, with a few more expected to roll out later this year. For those without state-issued cannabis cards, possession of less than one ounce can result in a six month sentence and a max fine of $1,000. And all because you wanted to get weird at Arches.
Vermont became the first state to legalize cannabis via the state legislature-instead of the ballot box-in 2018, but that legislation only allowed adults 21+ to grow, possess, and consume. That meant residents had to grow their own supply or sneak over state lines. But after three years, the state has finally allowed for licensed retail cannabis stores to open no later than May 1, 2022. In other good news, a bill to automatically expunge all cannabis possession offenses took effect on January 1st of this year.
In February 2021, Virginia became the first state in the Old South to legalize weed. Adults ages 21+ can possess an ounce or less beginning on July 1, though it might take a while (think 2024) before the state begins to license recreational retailers. Though medical dispensaries began operating in fall 2020, licensed cultivators couldn’t sell it in a smokable form until last month, when a bill passed that will give patients access to flower. A genteel nod of approval to you, Virginia.
Washington DC: Recreational
Weed is legal in DC, but selling it is still prohibited. There’s a weird rule where residents may cultivate up to six plants, from which they can give away up to one ounce, but not sell it. This has resulted in companies like HighSpeed and Joint Delivery selling T-shirts and posters and giving weed away as a gift with purchase. Things might change soon, though: A new bill called the Safe Cannabis Sales Act of 2021, if passed, would get cannabis retailers up and running by October 2022.
Washington tied for first alongside Colorado to legalize recreational grass back in 2012. After nearly a decade, the governor said his only regret was not doing it sooner. These days you’re allowed to possess and use weed (so long as it’s not in public) but you can’t grow your own without a medical license. These days there are loads of dispensaries you can choose from-plus, more than half of that sweet tax revenue goes to public health programs.
West Virginia: Medicinal
Medical cannabis became legal in 2017, but it has taken for-ev-er for the program to actually materialize due to a lack of funding and various other hurdles. In February, the Office of Medical Cannabis finally began allowing patients to register. The state issued 100 dispensary permits in late January, and they’re set to open within the next several months. As for the legalization of recreational weed, Governor Jim Justice is not opposed.
Weed remains very illegal in the Badger State, despite having pro-cannabis leadership and a recently-released budget plan calling for the legalization of both medical and recreational cannabis in the state. Likelihood of it passing through the GOP-controlled legislature? P slim. Laws are strict here: Possession of any amount is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, while repeat offenders can be charged with felonies punishable by over three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Looks like the West ain’t so wild after two bills calling for cannabis legalization in Wyoming missed the deadline. Bummer, considering weed laws in Wyoming are some of the harshest in the US. Simply being found “under the influence” is considered a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months imprisonment and a $750 fine. Getting caught with more than three ounces is a felony, with a five year sentence and $10,000 fine. Luckily Yellowstone is weird and wonderful enough to blow your mind all on its own.Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.
The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’. Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health.
Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid.
Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park. As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor.
To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power.
Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.
You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks.
It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties!
An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:
‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.”