Where is it legal to smoke weed in public?
Cannabis legalization is sweeping the nation, but every state has its own laws and regulations–especially when it comes to smoking weed in public. In fact, most states with recreational cannabis laws bar public consumption. So where can you smoke weed in public?
The majority of legal states ban any consumption in public places, relegating consumption to a private residence–unless you live in government-subsidized housing: then consumption at your home is still illegal.
In a few states, however, public consumption is completely tolerated or allowed in licensed lounges and designated areas. Just remember that even if the municipality has legalized consumption, if you’re on federal land (like lots of hiking trails and beaches) it’s still illegal due to cannabis remaining a Schedule I drug.
Here are the current rules regarding smoking weed in public for every state with recreational laws in place. And after reading, we think you might be booking a ticket to Rhode Island. So, where is it legal to smoke weed in public?
Adult-use cannabis has been legal in Alaska since 2014. Residents can legally grow up to six plants and purchase an ounce of flower at a time, but public consumption is prohibited. Following an update to the laws, some Alaskan dispensaries are licensed to allow consumption in designated areas.
When Arizona legalized adult-use, the state carried its stance on public consumption over from its medical program–cannabis use and products are not allowed in public. The state law specifically mentions the illegality of consumption in school buses, schoolgrounds, and correctional facilities. The Clarendon Hotel in Phoenix, AZ, and Harambe Cafe in Tucson are operating cannabis consumption lounges as they operate in privately-owned spaces.
People think of California and cannabis, and immediately their minds go to lighting a joint–but that’s absolutely not the case. When in California, you must smoke cannabis on private property and can never smoke where it is illegal to smoke tobacco. The state law also explicitly prohibits smoking cannabis “within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare center, or youth center while kids are present.”
There are some licensed cannabis lounges in the state, however. In San Francisco, some medical dispensaries’ vaporizer lounges were grandfathered in with adult-use laws despite the fact that those laws did not regulate lounges. Since then, a few more consumption lounges have opened in the state. The majority are in the San Francisco Bay Area.
This state was the first to implement recreational cannabis in 2014, and since then, public consumption has remained illegal. In 2017, however, regulators approved Marijuana Club Licenses, opening the door for regulated public consumption. Now, visitors and locals can toke up at licensed hospitality businesses and retail consumption sites.
Throughout the state of Connecticut, cannabis consumption is prohibited anywhere that tobacco and vaping are illegal. Landlords in the state are permitted to prohibit smoking or vaping but cannot ban non-smoking cannabis products. To inquire beyond these laws, you must visit individual city and town rules as that is under municipality jurisdiction.
Consuming cannabis on streets, parks, areas adjacent to licensed dispensaries, or any public space is illegal in Illinois. The law also explicitly prohibits smoking cannabis in moving or stationary vehicles. The legalization bill allows local jurisdictions to authorize on-premises consumption at cannabis businesses, provided consumption complies with the Smoke Free Illinois Act.
Public cannabis consumption is not allowed in Michigan. Still, a few cannabis lounges opened recently, testing the waters as a gathering place for the local cannabis community– businesses can file for a consumption lounge or temporary event license.
Under state law, cannabis consumption in Missouri is only allowed in private residences or on private property, but the law leaves further regulation up to local jurisdictions. In early 2023 the Saint Louis County Planning Commission unanimously approved a petition to license retail stores and other spaces for cannabis consumption– lounges are now open.
Cannabis use is prohibited in public places across Nevada. The law explicitly prohibits consuming cannabis while a passenger in a moving vehicle. There are promising updates from Las Vegas and the Silver State, however, with impending cannabis lounges and working legislation that would permit temporary event sales and consumption sites.
Though New Jersey legalized cannabis in April 2022, public consumption and growing your own are both illegal. The law further grants landlords the right to prohibit cannabis use on their property.
In New York state, it’s legal to smoke or vape anywhere smoking tobacco is permitted under the smoke-free air laws, but there are a few exceptions. For example, don’t light up in outdoor dining areas or in motor vehicles, whether the car is parked or moving. New York does allow consumption lounge licenses but prohibits consumption lounges at retail dispensaries.
According to state law, when in New Mexico, you should only consume cannabis in a private home or licensed consumption area. Local jurisdictions approve and regulate consumption areas, which must adhere to the Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act or the Cannabis Regulation Act. There are lounges operating in Albuquerque currently.
Consuming cannabis of any form in public is prohibited by Maine law and must be used solely on private property. Property owners, landlords, and rental companies maintain the right to ban cannabis use and possession on their premises.
Anywhere that prohibits tobacco also prohibits cannabis use in Massachusetts. Cannabis use is allowed only on your private property, or private property where you have permission. Violation can result in a fine as high as $100.
Cannabis smoking is not allowed in any public place in Maryland, indoors or outdoors, or in motor vehicles. Cannabis lounges are new to the state, the first of which opened in March 2023 but operates in a legal gray area.
Medical and recreational cannabis use is barred from public spaces and other specified locations in Montana. There are no consumption lounges in the state.
It is legal to grow, possess, and consume cannabis in Oregon–but don’t smoke in public. Oregon law states consumption must happen at home or on private property. For social smokers, there are some private clubs where members can kick back and light up, but legislators must update the Indoor Clean Air Act before consumption lounges can operate legally.
In Rhode Island, it is legal to smoke cannabis wherever you can smoke tobacco. Following those rules, smoking is illegal indoors and outdoors at public workplaces, restaurants, bars, and K-12 schools. Some communities, housing facilities, and college campuses also hold private bans on tobacco and, as a result, cannabis. Be aware of private rulings on tobacco before seshing on any park bench, but Rhode Island may be tied with New York for the most cannabis-friendly state on the list.
Vermont legalized cannabis but prohibits consumption in all “places of public accommodation,” some of which are on private property. Public accommodation refers to places like restaurants, stores, and anywhere that offers goods, services, or other accommodations to the general public. State law does allow cannabis consumption on private property that does not serve as a place of public accommodation.
Like many states, Virginia only allows cannabis consumption on private property and permits private residence owners to ban cannabis at any time. Though not authorized by regulators, cannabis lounges are cropping up in the state.
Washington state legalized adult use of cannabis in 2014, but smoking, vaping, or eating edibles remains illegal anywhere outside of private property. Despite these rigid laws, Bellingham Budfest worked with local municipalities and police to throw a consumption festival in 2019, with a successful return in 2022.
Each of these legal states has specific laws framing cannabis consumption– and some are more lenient than others. State and local governments continue approving cannabis lounges, public consumption, and temporary consumption event licenses– but still, many jurisdictions prefer to keep cannabis out of sight and in private homes.