In the United States, the usage and possession of cannabis are prohibited and illegal under federal law for any purpose, by way of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Under the CSA, cannabis is classified as a Schedule I substance, prone to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use – thereby prohibiting even medical use of the drug. At the state level, however, policies regarding the medical and recreational use of cannabis vary greatly, and in many states differ significantly with federal law.

In spite of it, the medical use of cannabis is legal (with a doctor’s recommendation) in 33 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico. Fourteen other states have laws that limit THC content, for the purpose of allowing access to products that are rich in cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis. Although cannabis remains a Schedule I drug, the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment prohibits federal prosecution of individuals complying with state medical cannabis laws.

Legal cannabis in the U.S. appears to be a near-certainty as the latest version of the U.S. Farm Bill will include a provision to legalize industrial cannabis. The bill still needs to work its way through Congress but political observers expect it will be passed into law soon. Legal cannabis will likely usher in a new era where CBD, one of the key chemicals in the marijuana plant, can be used in food, cosmetics, beverages, and other consumer-packaged goods.

But in some states, recreational use of cannabis is already legal. These states are (AlaskaCaliforniaColoradoMaineMassachusettsMichiganNevadaOregonVermont, and Washington), the District of Columbia, and the Northern Mariana Islands.