How to Buy Marijuana Legally — Purchasing Cannabis in a Recreational State

How to Buy Marijuana Legally — Purchasing Cannabis in a Recreational State

As of July 1, 2018, the date Vermont officially joined the fold, there are currently nine states and the District of Columbia where recreational cannabis is legalized. Though still illegal on a federal level, these states have lifted bans on recreational cannabis.
Travelers and tourists are welcomed to recreational states and some recreational states have a burgeoning cannatourism industry. However, before bounding off to your nearest recreational state, you need to know a few things about buying.

General Guidelines About Buying Cannabis

Bring Cash

If you’re purchasing cannabis in a recreational state you have to use cash. After all, cannabis is still illegal as far as Uncle Sam is concerned. This means that many dispensaries are cash-only businesses. This is because many banks will not do business with these dispensaries, so credit card or debit card purchases are not available. Some dispensaries may have an ATM machine in the lobby or in the front of the store, but not all will.

Talk to the Budtender

If you’re completely new to cannabis, it’s best to let the budtender know this. Budtenders often have a wealth of information and will be able to deduce what strain is best for you. If you’re a seasoned consumer, they can make informed recommendations based on your wants or needs. From pain relief to insomnia to anxiety, they can make a recommendation. Budtenders can also help you find the method of using cannabis that works best for you. Let them know if you want to try out a vape pen or another portable vaporizer.

Where to Buy in Recreational States

For those that want to know how to buy marijuana legally but can’t find a weed shop, the internet can be a valuable tool. Several websites such as and the Leafly serve as local guides and can help consumers locate dispensaries. This is essential because dispensaries are not listed on state-run tourism sites as a general rule.


It is important to note that it is illegal to transport cannabis across state lines. This is even the case when purchasing cannabis in a Recreational State and transporting it to another green state such as California and Nevada. It is also illegal to transport cannabis on a commercial airline.

Age Restrictions

All recreational states require that you be 21 and have a valid ID to purchase any cannabis products.

How to Buy Marijuana Legally State by State

Map of where weed is legal in the US
Due to different state laws, one’s experience with purchasing cannabis in a recreational state will vary greatly based on location (image via Business Insider)

Every state has its own unique policies and procedures for legalizing cannabis. Thus the specifics of purchasing cannabis in a recreational state will vary based on where you’re traveling to. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to buy marijuana legally across the United States.


In Alaska, you can carry up to an ounce, but keep in mind, smoking marijuana in public is punishable by up to a $100 fine. No hotels or cruise lines allow smoking on their premises or ships. Your enjoyment of cannabis is basically restricted to private property with permission from the owner.


In California, residents and tourists are restricted to buying one ounce per day. While in a vehicle, the container the cannabis is in must remain sealed. Like with other states, consumption is generally meant to be done in private, though some people do smoke in public.


Those with a Colorado driver’s license can purchase up to 1 ounce, while those with an out-of-state license are limited to 7 grams. However, Colorado has one of the largest cannatourism industries out there, and many hotels are now catering to allowing tourists to smoke on premises.


Maine hasn’t yet sorted out how to regulate and tax recreational dispensaries. So, there aren’t currently any recreational dispensaries open. However, the latest bill to regulate this passed the state house and senate with a veto-proof majority, so recreational facilities may begin popping up as early as next year.


Like Maine, there currently are no retail recreational dispensaries available in Massachusetts. Although it became legal for recreational dispensaries to open on July 1st, the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), the body that regulates Cannabis in the state, have not yet issued any licenses.


In Nevada, you can carry up to an ounce of flower or up to an eighth of an ounce of flower concentrate. However, there are not an abundance of places to smoke it. Hotels generally ban the substance because they can risk their gaming license by allowing it.


The limit as to what can be carried in Oregon is an eight ounce of marijuana flower. People are limited to purchasing 5 grams of concentrate intended for inhalation. There are some places that allow you to smoke inside, but these are classified as speakeasies and aren’t openly advertised.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of each state’s recreational marijuana laws. Before traveling, be sure to know the specific laws governing the purchase, carrying, and ingestion of cannabis.

Happy traveling!

About the Author:

Michael is a marketing and creative content specialist at with a primary focus on customer satisfaction. Technology and fitness are his passion, propelled by his obsession with healthy lifestyles.