Cannabis is legal for either medical, recreational, or both purposes in 28 states and Washington, DC. This wave of legalization has people asking a lot of questions: Why is legalization taking so long? What’s a terpeneShould I name my baby after this strain? Can I share this bud with my bud?

When addressing the legality of sharing marijuana, it’s important to look at the federal and the state levels because the answers are pretty different.

So. Is it illegal to share weed with a friend?

Federal Law Says Yes. It’s All Illegal. After a long, xenophobic, racist journey, marijuana has found itself classified as a Schedule 1 drug on the DEA’s drug schedule. This means that, according to the federal government, cannabis, along with heroin, LSD, and ecstasy, is a substance

“With no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”

Former Attorney General Eric Holder announced in 2009 that the federal government would not focus its resources on people complying with their states’ marijuana laws, but this announcement didn’t change the federal government’s supremacy and ability to prosecute any person or institution, even if licensed by the state, that cultivates, sells, purchases, or uses marijuana.

The current Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is not a huge fan of marijuana, and in February 2017, press secretary Sean SpicerJeff sessions says do not share strongly suggested that the federal government would grapple with recreational marijuana laws with a bit more force than we saw under the Obama administration.

Despite the wave of legalization taking place across the states, the federal government’s maintained a pretty Gandalf-like stance on the issue, all “you shall not pass” and such.

State Law Says for the Most Part, it’s Okay to Share

Marijuana has been legalized for recreational use in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Here are the policies for each of those states.

Alaska

Go for it—as long as you’re somewhere private. Adults who are 21 and older can possess up to one ounce and consume marijuana products for recreational purposes on private property; public consumption is still illegal. The law even states that adults can grow and give away up to one ounce of cannabis or six cannabis plants; however, only three of those plants can be mature.

California

Share away. California law allows adults ages 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and up to eight grams of cannabis concentrates. It also allows adults to grow up to six plants for personal use.  Public consumption of marijuana is illegal. Because possession is legal, you should be okay to share no more than one ounce of marijuana or eight grams of concentrate.

Colorado

Yes, you can share. Adults 21 years and older can possess up to one ounce of marijuana. The law states that an adult at least age 21 can give marijuana to another adult at least 21 years old. However, adults cannot sell marijuana to each other; marijuana can only be purchased in a licensed dispensary. Public consumption is illegal, so only use or share your marijuana on private property.

Maine

Go ahead and be generous. In Maine, adults who are 21 and older can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow up to 6 mature plants.

The law states that a person 21 or older can share up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and up to 6 immature plants to an adult who is also 21 or older

A person cannot sell marijuana to someone else as transactions can only legally take place in a licensed facility. Marijuana can be consumed on private property only.

Massachusetts

You can share. Adults at least 21 years old can possess up to one ounce of marijuana. Of that ounce, 5 grams may be cannabis concentrate.  Residents are allowed to grow up to six plants per household member, but one household cannot contain more than 12 plants. Marijuana cannot be consumed publicly, so share with your friend on private property.

Nevada

Share responsibly. In Nevada, adults at least 21 years old can legally have and share up to one ounce of marijuana or 1/8 of an ounce of cannabis concentrate on them at a time. Public cannabis consumption is illegal and can result in a fine of up to $600.

Oregon

Share with no catch. Adults who are 21 years or older can give up to one ounce of marijuana to adults who are 21 years old or older as long as there are no financial considerations involved. Public consumption is illegal, so marijuana must be used on private property.

Washington

You cannot share.

Although adults 21 and older can legally possess up to one ounce of flower, 16 ounces of solid edibles, 72 ounces of liquid edibles, and 7 grams of concentrates, it is illegal for anyone other than a licensed marijuana retailer to sell or provide marijuana to anyone.

Washington, DC

You can share. According to Washington, DC law, adults 21 and older can possess up to two ounces of marijuana. The law states that adults can give marijuana to an adult of the legal age as long as it involves zero payment or exchange of goods or services. Marijuana must be consumed on private property.

Medical Cannabis

If you liveshare with friends in a state that only allows the use of medical marijuana, don’t share. Medical marijuana patients are typically only allowed to collect their marijuana
from a licensed access point and need to have a doctor’s recommendation in order to actually make a purchase.  In states like Michigan and Montana, people who shared their medical cannabis faced criminal charges and even prison time. 

Federal Laws You Can’t Afford to Forget

Regardless of the state you live in, there are a few aspects of federal law that you definitely want to abide by.

First of all, you can’t mail cannabis since the federal government operates the postal service

Second, you can’t take marijuana from one state to another; that’s illegal according to state law, and it’s kind of drug trafficky for the feds. Finally, don’t consume marijuana publicly, especially not on federal land. State penalties for these laws will still punish you for public consumption, usually through some kind of fine, but federal law is a bit more intense.

Share your marijuana when it’s legal and if you feel like it, but do so within the constraints of the law.

Dianna Benjamin

About the author: Dianna Benjamin is a freelance writer, teacher, wife, and mom horrified and fascinated by social justice and our inability--yet constant pursuit--to get it right.