Medical marijuana dispensary in Denver.
As medical marijuana laws are passed across the world, it is going to become steadily more obvious that the average pound of cannabis dispensed every day per dispensary is not all for chronic illnesses.

Many cannabis campaigners like to throw around the fact that 15 out of 50 states have medical marijuana laws. However, as a friend pointed out to me, “To me, that simply means that 35 American states don’t have medical marijuana.” It’s not, on the face of it, an incredible statistic except to people who genuinely think cannabis will drive you crazy and the government is mandated to execute people found using it. There’s much more impressive stats out there. Let’s consider the math:

15 states out of 50 have medical marijuana laws.

30% of the United States has medical marijuana laws.


Alaska – 710,231
Arizona – 6,392,017
California – 37,253,956
Colorado – 5,029,196
Hawaii – 1,360,301
Maine – 1,328,361
Michigan – 9,883,640
Montana – 989,415
Nevada – 2,700,551
New Jersey – 8,791,894
New Mexico – 2,059,179
Oregon – 3,831,074
Rhode Island – 1,052,567
Vermont – 625,741
Virginia – 8,001,024
Washington – 6,724,540

So, 96,733,687 Americans under medical marijuana laws.

There’s 307,006,550 Americans in total.

Which means 31% of Americans live under medical marijuana laws. Referring to people rather than states is much more useful given the wild variation of population density across America.

Also, that’s 96 million people. 96 MILLION. That’s a lot of people.

Map of state decriminalisation and medical marijuana across the US
Light green: State with legal medical cannabis. Icky green: State with decriminalized cannabis possession laws. Dark Green: State with both medical and decriminalization laws.

But there’s another point that I think cannabis advocates miss. And that is that, as medical marijuana dominates the American politic agenda, states have been quietly decriminalising personal posession for marijuana for the past four decades. 13 states currently have civil penalties or low policing priorities for marijuana possession.

Setting aside states with medical marijuana and decriminalisation (like California), states with just decriminalisation:

Connecticut – 3,574,097
Massachusetts – 6,547,629
Minnesota – 5,303,925
Nebraska – 1,826,341
New York – 19,378,102
North Carolina – 9,535,483
Ohio – 11,536,504

So, that’s 57,702,081 Americans live in states that don’t have marijuana but do have decriminalisation laws for possession.

Adding in the Americans who live in states with medical marijuana, that’s 154,435,768 Americans.

So, 30% of US States have medical marijuana laws, 31% of Americans live in medical marijuana states, but 50.3% Americans live in states where using marijuana is safe enough to be used medicinally or recreationally without criminal penalty. Just over half of ALL Americans have access to cannabis without being criminalised for it.

That’s a much more impressive statistic. I suggest we all use it!

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