Dominion of New York

Social Justice

June 14, 2012

14 States Where Pot Smokers Can Avoid Jail Time

More articles by »
Written by: Kelly Virella
Tags: , ,

A park ranger helps other law enforcement agencies eradicate a marijuana growing operation discovered in the park. This will obviously net some serious incarceration, but in 14 states, simple possession does not. Photo courtesy of Flickr/North Cascades National Park.


s drug policy reform activists continue their crusade to reform marijuana law, one often omitted element of the discussion is just how widely the laws vary by state. In Ohio, you can possess up to one hundred grams of marijuana without being sentenced to jail time if you’re caught. It’s a minor misdemeanor — one that doesn’t give you a criminal record — that comes with a $150 fine. Ohio is one of 14 states where pot heads can avoid jail time. But other states are teetotalers. If you’re caught and convicted, expect incarceration.

Federalism is a beautiful thing in the sense that it allows us to pass progressive legislation in progressive enclaves — think voting rights, interracial marriage and gay marriage. But on the other side of the federalism coin is a triptych of George Wallace, Strom Thurmond, and Ronald Reagan, or other legendary conservative bugaboos. 115 million Americans — about one third of us — live in states where marijuana has been decriminalized. Check the list below and leave a comment telling us whose marijuana law you’re living under, a progressive one or a conservative one.

Thanks to the Drug Police Alliance  for furnishing me with this list. Personally, I don’t smoke, but I don’t believe people should go to jail because they do.
Marijuana Decriminalization in America

About the Author

Kelly Virella
Kelly Virella lives in an East Harlem walk-up with her husband, her bicycle and her books. She's worked as a journalist for 11 years and started this website during the summer of 2011. She fell in love with New York City during her first visit here as a 16-year-old and finally made good on her promise to move here in April 2010.


Melissa Harris Perry. Photo courtesy of MSNBC.