Jul 8, 2016 9:30 AM

Legalization of Cannabis: A Guide to Marijuana Cultivation Laws by State

The United States is the land of the free, but some states are just a little bit freer than others. Among 25 states that have legalized marijuana, only five have also allowed the recreational use of the substance. Moreover, legal pot does not necessarily mean that you may consume, buy, and grow marijuana wherever you want.

Cannabis Grower and Marijuana Cultivation

In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first states to fully legalize marijuana. Now, a bunch of states are also considering the legalization of cannabis—an action with potentially dramatic implications for the American criminal justice system and drug policy.

When it comes to marijuana, the line between legal and illegal is quite blurry. The existing loopholes confuse many and become a fertile ground for some growers and dealers. Cannabis cultivation laws differ from state to state, and sometimes, cannabis growers and patients can be unaware of where, for what purposes, and how many plants they can legally cultivate. This state-by-state guide on marijuana cultivation laws includes all 25 states that legalized the use of the substance for both medical and recreational purposes.


Medical marijuana is legal in Alaska since 1975. In November 2014, the state ended the prohibition of the recreational use of the plant by passing Ballot Measure 2. However, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABCB) began to issue licenses to stores, growers, and processors only in May 2016.

The most interesting thing is that Alaska was the first traditionally conservative state to allow recreational marijuana use. Fortunately, the ice is broken, and decriminalization laws across the country do not surprise anyone anymore.

Currently, the residents of Alaska that are 21 years of age and over may possess, use, display, buy, and transport up to an ounce of the drug, as well as share or gift an ounce or less (or six plants and only for personal use) to other people who are 21 years old or older. They are also allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants, with no more than three in the mature state. Possession of cannabis for commercial reasons and public consumption remains an offense and is punishable by a fine of up to $100.

According to “An Act to tax and regulate the production, sale, and use of marijuana,” marijuana plants shall be cultivated in a location where the plants are not subject to public view without the use of binoculars, aircraft, or other optical aids. Those cultivating cannabis must take reasonable precautions to ensure that the plants are secure from unauthorized access. Furthermore, marijuana growing may occur on property lawfully possessed by the grower or with the consent of the owner. A person who violates this section will be punished by a fine of up to $750.


In Arizona, marijuana is allowed only for medicinal purposes (since 2010, when voters passed the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act by a narrow margin of just over fifty percent). State law authorized the possession and personal use of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis by marijuana patients with specific medical conditions.

Patients with valid ID cards and designated caregivers registered with ADHS are allowed to obtain no more than 2.5 ounces of cannabis in a 14-day period from registered non-profit medical marijuana dispensaries.

They also may cultivate up to twelve plants at home only if their residence is located not closer than 25 miles from the nearest medical marijuana dispensary and is an “enclosed, locked facility.” The term “enclosed, locked facility” means the facility equipped with locks or other security devices that grant access only to the cardholder or surrounded by solid 10-foot metal, concrete, or stone walls preventing any viewing of cannabis, with a one-inch thick metal gate. A person may grow marijuana at the dispensary or at a cultivation site that needs to comply with the local zoning restrictions.

Those found guilty of cannabis-related offenses will be required to pay a fine of up to $150,00 as determined by the court. Non-patients who were caught illegally cultivating marijuana will be punished by a sentence that may last from six months to nine years.


In 1996, Californian voters approved Ballot Proposition 215 (also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996) allowing the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. That was the year when California became the first state in the country to legalize medical marijuana.

According to the law, medical marijuana patients are prohibited from cultivating the plant without obtaining a license, permit, or entitlement allowing the growing from the city or county in which the cultivation will occur. Persons engaging in pot activity without a license will be subject to civil penalties of up to twice the amount of the license fee for each violation, and the department, state, or local authority may order the destruction of medical cannabis associated with the violation.

It is allowed to cultivate cannabis as long as the place for growing does not exceed a hundred square feet for one patient and 500 square feet for up to five patients.

Exemption from the requirements of this section does not limit or prevent a city and/or county from regulating or banning the cultivation, storage, manufacture, transport, provision, or other activity by the exempt person, or impair the enforcement of that regulation or ban (check the laws in your local jurisdiction).

Growing with intent to sell may result in felony sentencing for up to three years of imprisonment in the county jail.


Along with California, Colorado is a cannabis pioneer: in 2014, the state became the first place anywhere in the world to allow legal marijuana sales.

In Colorado, the Marijuana Legalization Amendment, also known as Amendment 64, made it legal to possess and cultivate certain amounts of cannabis for personal use. It is a crime to grow or produce more than six marijuana plants for personal use, or for a person to knowingly allow weed to be grown on a property that the person controls.

Under Amendment 64, if a patient is older than 21, they may cultivate up to six plants for personal use only. In any other cases, they are guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Penalties include between 6 and 18 months in prison and/or a fine between $500 and $5,000.

If a person was caught growing or possessing 7-29 plants, they will be punished by a fine of up to $100,000 and sentenced to jail for up to three years.

Growing more than three plants of marijuana is a Class 4 felony that means a 2-6-year imprisonment and/or a fine between $2,000 and $500,000.


Although the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is legal, home cultivation of the plant is not permitted, as well as delivery and sale.

Substitute Senate Bill 1014, enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly in 2011, states that no person shall use, deliver, possess or manufacture with intent to use or deliver, to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body less than one-half ounce of a cannabis-type substance. Anyone who violates this subsection shall have committed an infraction.

Cultivation, delivery, or sale of marijuana is punishable by up to seven years in prison or/and a fine of up to $25,000.


Home cultivation of marijuana is a crime in Delaware. Penalties vary according to the amount manufactured.

A person that is growing, possessing, or distributing 4,000 grams of cannabis or more is guilty of a Class B felony punishable by 2-25 years in prison. The crime also includes offenders who possess such amount of the drug with intent to cultivate, distribute, or process it (Health and Safety Code, 4752 Drug dealing—Aggravated possession).

Furthermore, any owner, landlord, and tenant of any building in Delaware may not knowingly consent to or use the property to cultivate or store cannabis, as well as to use it as a point from which to distribute the drug. The violation is a Class F felony, which means a punishment of up to three years of imprisonment.

District of Columbia

While in the most states growing marijuana at home is illegal, in the District of Columbia, you may cultivate up to six plants—no more than three that are mature at one time—in your residence without penalty. But first, you should ask your roommates.

Initiative 71 passed in November 2014, and three months later, possession of two ounces or less of cannabis became legal for D.C. residents over 21 years old, as did the growing of a small amount of marijuana. The ballot also allows adults to use or sell drug paraphernalia related to using, growing, or processing marijuana.

An offender convicted of sale, growing, or possession with intent to distribute may be imprisoned for up to five years, fined not more than $50,00, or both. For an offender with no prior convictions for marijuana-related activity, the punishment may be milder: imprisonment for up to six months or/and a fine of up to $1,000.


Medical marijuana was legalized here back in 2000 by Act 228. However, its cannabis policy may seem somewhat confusing.

Cultivating cannabis plants is allowed in Hawaii only in the amount of no more than seven plants total and no more than four ounces of usable marijuana jointly between a registered patient and caregiver. However, on your application, you may designate a caregiver to grow medical marijuana on your behalf. This person cannot be a caregiver for anyone else at the same time. Act 241 eliminates the ability of a caregiver to cultivate the plant on behalf of a qualifying patient after Dec. 31, 2018, unless the patient is either a minor/adult lacking legal capacity or a resident of a city with no dispensary.

Cultivation of 25-50 plants is a class C felony and is punishable by up to five years in jail and/or a $10,000 fine. For growing 50-100 plants of cannabis, you may be punished by ten years in jail and/or a $25,000 fine. Cultivation of 100 and more plants is punishable by twenty years of imprisonment and/or a fine of $50,000.

A person caught while growing up to 25 marijuana plants on another person's property without their permission will be punished by a fine of $25,000 and ten years in prison. For growing more plants, they may spend up to twenty years in jail.


A bill passed by the Illinois Senate in May 2009 included an amendment permitting a patient to possess up to six cannabis plants, with no more than three mature, over the course of 60 days. However, the bill failed to get approval in the House in 2011 and currently, home cultivation of marijuana is a crime in Illinois.

While the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program allows qualifying patients and caregivers to purchase medical cannabis at state-licensed dispensaries, it does not grant them the right to grow their own weed.

Cultivating or possessing up to five marijuana plants is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a sentence of up to a year in jail.

Cultivating or possessing between 5 and 20 plants is fraught with imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to $25,000, or both.

A person growing or possessing between 20 and 50 plants will be punished by a fine of $25,000 and imprisonment of up to 5 years.

Growing or possessing 200 or more cannabis plants is a Class 1 felony punishable by a $100,00 fine and 15-year imprisonment.


In November 2016, lawmakers in Maine will decide whether the state should legalize recreational marijuana and regulate it like alcohol. Currently, Maine allows medical marijuana use under limited circumstances.

The grow limit for a medical marijuana patient is six plants. A qualifying patient elected to cultivate pot must keep the plants in an enclosed, locked facility unless the plants are being transported because the patient is moving or taking the weed to his own property in order to cultivate them.

According to The Rules Governing the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program, minors, incapacitated adults, homeless patients, and registered patients in hospitals or nursing facilities may not cultivate their own marijuana—only designated dispensaries or primary caregivers may grow up to six mature marijuana plants for each patient served. Moreover, a person may designate only one cultivation source at any time: either a registered dispensary or a primary caregiver.


Senate Bill 502 was signed into law in 2003, establishing a medical cannabis affirmative defense law. It allows a patient to defend against possession or growing charges post-arrest if a person is able to argue at trial that the use of the drug is a medical necessity. However, even if successful, they may still be subject to a fine and misdemeanor for possession.

Maryland Senate Bill of 2011 removed all criminal penalties for the cultivation, use, or possession of one ounce or less of the substance for medicinal purposes.

Cultivating of up to 50 pounds of marijuana is a felony punishable by a $15,000 fine and up to five years in jail.

Cultivating more than 50 pounds is punishable with a fine of up to $100,000 and a mandatory minimum of five years in prison.


Assessing marijuana cultivation in the United States is troublesome for many patients, and even more difficult on a statewide basis due to the illegality of the drug.

In Massachusetts, violations involving up to fifty pounds of cannabis are penalized depending on whether the violation is first or subsequent offense. For the first offense, penalties include a $500-$5,000 fine or up to two years in jail, or both. The second or subsequent offense may lead to a fine between $1,000 and $10,000 or 2,5 years in jail, or both.

Cultivating 50-100 pounds of marijuana is a felony punishable by a fine of no more than $10,000 and imprisonment for up to 15 years. Growing 100-2,000 pounds may be punished by a fine of between $2,500 to $25,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 15 years. For cultivating more than 10,000 pounds of the drug, you may be punished by a fine of $20,000-$200,000 and 8-15 years of imprisonment.

In addition, if any of the offenses are committed within 300 feet of a school or 100 feet of a public park between 5:00 a.m. and midnight, you will have to pay a $1,000-$10,000 fine and spend between 2 and 15 years in prison.


Medical marijuana has been legal in Michigan since 2008 under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. However, Michigan legislators are considering legalizing recreational marijuana in November 2016.

Home cultivation of marijuana is legal in Michigan in the amount of no more than twelve plants kept in an enclosed, locked facility. Outdoor plants must not be observed by “the unaided eye” of other people “from an adjacent property when viewed at ground level or from a permanent structure.” The weed must also be grown within a stationary structure that is enclosed on all sides, except the base, by chain-link fencing, wooden slats, or a similar material that restricts access to the general public and that is anchored, attached, or affixed to the ground, located on land that is owned, leased, or rented by the grower.

Cultivating of up to twenty cannabis plants is punished by a four-year sentence and a maximum fine of $20,000.

Growing of 20-200 plants is punished by 15 years in jail and a fine of up to $500,000.

For cultivation of more than 200 plants, a person may spend 15 years in prison and pay a $10,000,000 fine.


Minnesota medical cannabis program is considered to be one of the strictest in the country. Only a few from all twenty-five states with legal medical marijuana have such tough cannabis laws regarding the types of products that can be used and where they can be purchased and consumed as Minnesota.

Chapter 369 allows a qualifying patient to apply for a hardship cultivation registration that would permit the patient or their designated caregiver to grow up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana (or twelve plants) at home. Any incidental amount of seeds, stalks, and usable roots shall also be allowed under the state law and shall not be included in this amount.

Marijuana may be cultivated and stored only in an enclosed, locked area not visible to the public at the patient's or caregiver's primary residence, or both.

The privilege from arrest under this subsection applies only if the patient presents both their medical marijuana ID card and a government-issued ID with photo.


The Montana Marijuana Act was enacted in 2004, therefore allowing medical marijuana use under certain medical conditions.

In Montana, possession of even a single joint for non-medical use can be the reason for a six-month imprisonment and, unfortunately, home cultivation of marijuana is also prohibited.

According to the state law, a registered cardholder may possess up to four mature plants, twelve seedlings, and one ounce of usable marijuana.

Cultivating of no more than one pound (or 30 plants) of cannabis is punishable by a $5,000 fine or up to ten years in jail, or both.

For growing more than that limit, a person will pay a $50,000 fine and may be imprisoned for a minimum of two years or even spend the rest of his life in jail.


Since 2000, medical marijuana has been legal in Nevada. Recreational marijuana is not allowed in any form, although if the Marijuana Legalization Initiative passes this fall, Nevada may end marijuana prohibition.

The qualifying patient in Nevada is prohibited from growing their own weed if a dispensary opens in their county of residence. If a county has no open dispensary, the patient is exempt from state prosecution for possessing, delivering, or producing up to 2,5 ounces of usable marijuana or twelve plants (irrespective of whether the plants are mature or immature).

Patients who live within 25 miles of a medical marijuana dispensary may not grow their own weed without a special exemption from the state. In other cases, they are allowed to grow no more than twelve cannabis plants as long as they register their address with the state.

Cultivation of twelve or more plants is a crime punishable by a 1-4 year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000.

If you were caught growing 100-2,000 pounds of marijuana, be ready to pay a $25,000 fine and spend up to four years in prison.

New Hampshire

Currently, New Hampshire is probably the last state in New England that still imprisons people for minor cannabis possession offenses: according to the House Bill 573, if you are caught with even a joint in your pocket, you could go to jail for a year and receive a $2,000 fine.

So, it is no surprise that home cultivation in New Hampshire is banned.

Cultivating up to one ounce of cannabis (or five grams of hashish) is a felony punished by three years in jail or a $25,000 fine, or both.

Penalties for growing up to five pounds include a fine of up to $200,000 and/or up to fifteen years in prison.

An individual who conspires with at least one other person to plan, finance, or manage a scheme to produce or distribute marijuana may be convicted of being a “drug enterprise leader” and be imprisoned for a minimum of 25 years in jail.

Violations that take place within 1,000 feet of a school may be punished with up to twice the penalties described above.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act does not authorize a patient or primary caregiver to cultivate and possess marijuana.

A person found guilty in cultivating of between one ounce to five pounds (ten plants) of cannabis may be punished by a sentence of 3-5 years' imprisonment and a maximum fine of $25,000.

Growing of 5-25 pounds is a crime punishable by a sentence of 5-10 years in jail or a $150,000 fine, or both.

In case of growing of 25 or more pounds (50 and more cannabis plants), a grower may pay a $300,000 fine and go to jail for up to twenty years.

New Mexico

Medical marijuana has been legal in New Mexico since New Mexico Senate passed a marijuana decriminalization bill (SB383) last year.

That led to the creation of the Medical Cannabis Program. According to the state law, qualifying patients may apply for a Personal Production License that allows growing up to sixteen marijuana plants (4 mature, 12 immature) in their homes. While patients are permitted to grow weed, it is illegal to distribute the plants to anyone else in any way.

Cultivation of up to one ounce of cannabis is punishable by a 15-day sentence and a fine of $50-$100 in case of the first offense or a year in jail and a fine of between $100 and $1,000 for the second or subsequent offense. For first violations in a school zone, penalties increase to a $100-$1,000 fine and up to one year in prison. For the second or subsequent offense, the fine increases to $5,000 and a term of imprisonment—to 18 months.

Cultivation of more than eight ounces of marijuana leads to severe penalties: a fine of up to $5,000 or a sentence of up to three years in jail, or both.

New York

In July 2014, New York Governor and the State Legislature enacted the Compassionate Care Act that ensured access to medical marijuana for qualifying patients.

Home cultivation of any amount of the pot, whether for personal use or for sale, is illegal in New York.

According to the act, possession of medical marijuana shall not be lawful if it is smoked, consumed, vaporized, or grown in a public place, regardless of the form of medical marijuana stated in the patient's certification.

Cultivation of up to two ounces is a Class B misdemeanor and is punished by a sentence of three months in jail and a fine of up to $500.

For cultivating or distributing up to 24 grams, a person may pay a a maximum fine of $1,000 and spend a year in prison. Growing or selling 4-16 ounces may lead to seven years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Penalties for cultivating 16 ounces and more entail 15 years of imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.

Under the New York medical marijuana program of patients protection, certified patients, caregivers, practitioners, registered organizations, and their employees shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner.


On June 8, 2016, Gov. John Kasich signed legislation legalizing marijuana for medical use, which made Ohio the last 25th state to join the group of cannabis-friendly places in the United States. However, as you may guess, marijuana cultivation and growing is still a serious criminal offense in Ohio.

Penalties for the cultivation of the plant are identical to the penalties for possessing the same amount of the drug.

If you are convicted for illegal cultivation of less than 100 grams of marijuana, you may be charged with a minor misdemeanor that entails a $150 fine but no jail time and criminal record. If the offense was near a school, you will face up to 30 days in prison in addition to the fine.

Cultivating or selling of 100-200 grams is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and/or a sentence of up to a year in jail.

For growing of selling between $200 and $1,000 grams of marijuana, you will have to pay a maximum fine of $2,500 and spend 18 months in prison.

Growing 1,000-2,000 grams may lead to a five-year sentence and a $10,000 fine.


Fortunately for Oregon residents, a limited amount of marijuana may be grown in their homes for personal, non-commercial use beginning on July 1, 2015.

According to Measure 91, recreational marijuana users of the age of 21 older are allowed to possess up to eight ounces of usable marijuana and grow no more than six plants per residence. The definition “residence,” or “household,” in Oregon includes all types of dwellings. The plants must be grown at a registered grow site address only. Caregivers cannot cultivate for more than four patients at a time and grow more than six mature plants per each patient. Furthermore, all growers must abide by the mature plant maximum determined by their grow site address zoning (OAR 333-008-0560.)

A person may not grow marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school. If they grow in their yard, plants should be behind a fence or another barrier and cannot be observed by the public.


In April 2015, Pennsylvania House passed Senate Bill 3 legalizing marijuana for medical use. However, growing cannabis plants, even without the intention of selling them, remains illegal in the state.

Cultivating of up to 30 grams is punishable by a fine of $500 and a 30-day sentence in jail.

For growing or selling up to 1,000 pounds, a person will be charged with a $5,000-$25,000 fine and three years in prison.

Penalties for growing or selling more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana include a fine of up to $100,000 and ten years of imprisonment.

Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, it is legal for patients registered with an ID card to grow their own weed for medical purposes. They may also appoint a primary caregiver for assistance.

There is no penalty for growing up to twelve mature marijuana plants and 2,5 ounces of usable marijuana, but you have to store the drug in an indoor facility. Furthermore, you may give the drug to (or exchange marijuana with) another registered patient, as long as there is no payment and the amount does not exceed the legal limits.

As Medical Marijuana Act states, a primary caregiver cardholder with registry ID card shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty for assisting a patient.

For cultivating or selling up to 1 kilogram, a person may be punished by a maximum sentence of 30 years of imprisonment and/or a fine of $100,000.

Growing up to 5 kilograms is punishable by ten years in jail or a fine up to $500,000, or both.


In February 2015, the Vermont Senate voted to pass a bill known as S. 241, which ended the state's prohibition of medical marijuana for adults 21 and older.

This bill allowed registered patients to cultivate up to two mature and seven immature cannabis plants. The limit for the designated caregivers that grow for the patients they assist is the same. The collective possession amounts between the caregiver and the patient must meet the total possession limit of four ounces of usable marijuana (two per person).

Cultivation of 3-10 plants is a felony punishable by a $10,000 fine and three years of imprisonment.


In Washington, Initiative 502 has legalized small amounts of marijuana for adults 21 and over. There are still significant restrictions on cannabis cultivation, though the cannabis laws are relatively mild.

A patient with certain medical conditions may legally grow up to fifteen plants for his own use under Washington medical marijuana law.

You may cultivate a plot of cannabis plants that does not exceed 100 square feet in accordance with the provisions of Section 241.

The property where you are going to grow your pot must be lawfully in your possession, or it has to be with the consent of the person in lawful possession of the property. It must also be secured and closed from public view.

It is illegal to grow on public lands.

A person who violates this section shall be assessed a civil penalty of not more than $100,00 for the first offense, up to $200,000 for the second, and up to $500,000 for a subsequent offense.

Man sentenced to 7½ years for indoor marijuana grow in Elburn
Maksim Gokhman, 36, of the 1500 block of Meadow View Court, pleaded guilty this week in Kane County to one count of possession of more than 5,000 grams of cannabis with intent to deliver, a felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Oct 3, 2018 1:22 PM
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