marijuana in the united states of america

What Do Americans Think About Weed? A Region-By-Region Guide

August 03, 2022

If you’ve had the chance to travel recently, then you might’ve noticed some different opinions on weed depending on where you are. People from the Pacific Northwest look at it in a different way than people from the Midwest, or Southerners.

So, how are you supposed to know what the climate’s going to be? And how are you supposed to plan a green vacation if you don’t know which states are green-friendly?

Well, that’s what we at MonroeBlvd are here for! This is an all-encompassing guide to how different regions of the United States feel about weed, both socially and legally. Now, if your particular super-niche region isn’t on here, don’t get mad--there’s a lot of ground to cover, so we’ll be speaking generally.

That being said, it’s time to jump into the first big question: why isn’t weed legal on a federal level?

Nationwide Weed--What’s the Deal?

As we all know, marijuana still isn’t legal on a federal level. Is it ridiculous? Yes, yes it is. But does it have to be this way? No, no it doesn’t.

The MORE Act is the big, sweeping bill that’s currently sitting until piles of other big, sweeping bills in the Senate. It aims to legalize recreational marijuana, expunge cannabis cases, and help dispensaries get their start.

To get the MORE Act passed, we need to write our senators and urge them to vote for it. It’s super important for the cannabis community nationwide!

That being said, there’s one simple reason that cannabis isn’t legal yet: it’s misunderstood. Education is key, and the more we can do to break the stoner stereotype, the better.  

Nationwide legalization and acceptance will come, but for now, it’s more of a state-by-state/region-by-region thing. So, how do the different regions of the U.S. feel about marijuana?

A Region-By-Region Guide to How the U.S. Feels About Weed

The Northeast

As someone from the northeast, I’m pretty proud of how much has changed over the past few years. New York, New Jersey, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island have all fully legalized marijuana, it’s legal for medicinal purposes in Pennsylvania (but not decriminalized recreationally), and Maryland, New Hampshire, and Delaware all allowed medicinal use and have decriminalized it for rec. use. 

That’s a pretty big list of states that recently legalized recreational weed (you go, northeast!). But how do people feel about it on a cultural level?

People are pretty happy about the legalization of weed--we all know that illegal users are out there, and they can breathe a bit easier knowing they won’t get busted for it. And as far as the economy goes, people are expecting New York City to become the new weed capital of the world. With over 8 million people in the city alone, the cannabis industry is about to absolutely boom.  

So, it’s fair to say that the Northeast is pretty green, both legally and culturally!

The Southeast

As expected, the Southeast is a bit harder to get a picture of than the Northeast. Here’s all the variety that the region has to offer:

  • Fully Legal: Virginia
  • Medicinal Use/Decriminzalized Rec. Use: Mississippi, Louisiana
  • Medicinal Use but NOT Decriminalized Rec. Use: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida
  • Illegal but Decriminalized (aka you’ll get a fine, but not jail): North Carolina
  • Medicinal CBD Use Only: Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee 
  • Outlawed Completely: South Carolina

As you can see, that’s a lot to wrap your head around! If you’re planning a southern road trip, maybe avoid bringing your pen--the laws on a state-by-state basis are a lot to keep track of. 

As far as the cultural aspect goes, keep in mind that social change happens slower in the Southeast. Especially in regards to older generations, they may take a little longer to come around to the idea. Younger folks, however, are driving the social change and making cannabis a more acceptable substance.

Urban areas are also a bit more progressive than rural spots (usually). Asheville, NC, is referred to as the “Eugene of the East,” and has tons of amazing medicinal dispensaries. When weed is fully legalized in NC (that day will come!), we’re sure it’ll be a hub for dispensaries and other cannabis-related businesses.

The Midwest

The Midwest, land of cheese and corn. It’s on my bucket list of places to visit because cheese is my favorite munchie snack, but much like the Southeast, there are varying levels of legality state-to-state. Here’s how the laws look:

  • Fully Legal: Michigan and Illinois
  • Medicinal Use/Decriminzalized Rec. Use: North Dakota, Missouri, Ohio, Minnesota
  • Medicinal Use but NOT Decriminalized Rec. Use: South Dakota
  • Illegal but Decriminalized (aka you’ll get a fine): Nebraska
  • Medicinal CBD Use Only: Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa
  • Outlawed Completely: Kansas

Much like the Southeast, the Midwest is a bit slower, and a bit less urban than places like the Northeast. Their laws are also therefore a bit less progressive, but we’re seeing change little by little. Wisconsin Democrats are hard at work to at least decriminalize it, but it’s a slow process.

When planning a cheese-themed Wisconsin road trip, consider popping over the border into Illinois to hit up some cool dispensaries and enjoy your weed worry-free.

The Southwest

The Southwest is a much smaller region than most, but it still has a lot of variety regarding cannabis laws. Arizona and New Mexico have completely legalized recreational use (yay!). Oklahoma allows medical use, but they have not decriminalized recreational use, and Texas only allows for medicinal CBD. 

One of the things that makes the Southwest so unique is the sheer vastness of the land. I mean, Texas is huge! This leaves a lot of room for people with different opinions and views on marijuana. 

For example, over 60% of voters in Arizona voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2020, but more than half of Texas voters do not want to see it legalized. 

With such a variety of opinions, it can be hard to look at the Southwest as a homogenous region. But, like the rest of the country, this region is moving towards progressive views on cannabis. 

The West

The American West is the last frontier, the pinnacle of the American dream (according to history textbooks). I’ve included Hawaii and Alaska as western states since they’re so far away. 

The West is also a huge geographic region, so there’s a lot of variety. However, due to more urban areas, there are a lot more states that have fully legalized weed. The list goes like this: 

  • Fully Legal: Montana, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, and Alaska
  • Medicinal Use/Decriminzalized Rec. Use: Hawaii
  • Medicinal Use but NOT Decriminalized Rec. Use: Utah
  • Outlawed Completely: Wyoming and Idaho

We love to see the western states legalizing recreational weed, and hopefully, that attitude spreads a bit further east soon! 

Not so long ago, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize smoking pot. That was only 10 years ago, and look how much has changed since then! Their progressive nature has spread to the rest of the west coast, and eastern states are following suit.

D.C., Puerto Rico, and Other Territories

How could I forget D.C., Puerto Rico, and the other territories? While none are technically states (yet, maybe, for D.C.), they still have their own rules surrounding marijuana. Here’s the list:

  • Washington, D.C.: medically legal and decriminalized, but illegal to sell or buy. However, home-growing and possession are legal. Honestly, D.C. is a grey area, so check out our more comprehensive article for the details on that. 
  • Puerto Rico: medically legal, but recreational use is unfortunately not decriminalized. So be careful here, since you can receive several years just for possession.
  •  American Samoa: weed is completely illegal here! No medical or recreational use, even with a medical card. American Samoa has some of the harshest penalties for marijuana in the U.S.
  • Virgin Islands: medical use is legal, and possession up to 1 ounce (28 grams) is decriminalized,  but recreational use is still illegal
  • Guam: the most progressive of the U.S. territories, Guam legalized medical use way back in 2014, and recreational use in 2019. Residents can even grow it themselves, but the industry is growing slowly.

P.S. Keep in mind that flying with weed is still illegal, so make sure you’re careful when planning a trip to a faraway destination! 

marijuana in the united states of america


Of course, the culture of marijuana can shift even county by county. Urban areas are more progressive, whereas rural areas are less accepting. That is the nature of things today.

But, as more and more states legalize weed, and as the MORE Act looms on the horizon, real change is happening. If you live in an area where marijuana is frowned upon, make sure to get out and vote for policymakers who will create the changes you want. Hell, you can even contact your senator directly if you have pressing concerns!

The culture surrounding marijuana is ever-changing, even in the same geographic location. You can be part of the progressive change, too, by representing cannabis proudly. So get out there, remember to educate others, and stay toasty. 


Emma Grace is a full-time student, writer, and lover of Marvel movies. She spends most of her time ignoring her responsibilities in favor of reading, learning global geography, and finding new ways to prepare instant noodles. She lives with her parents and sister and a very needy dog named Eloise.


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