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A state-by-state ranking of cannabis regulations

Barry Weisz Michael Rosenblum October 4, 2018

The Tracking Cannabis blog is proud to announce our first-ever state-by-state ranking of state cannabis regulations based on how favorable they are to cannabis businesses. California leads the pack, but you might be surprised by which states make the top — and bottom — of the list. 

Our guide, available here in PDF form, provides a holistic review of the current cannabis laws in every state and the District of Columbia, from most favorable to cannabis businesses to most restrictive. In addition, you can find each state in alphabetical order below. 

Our methodology

Jurisdictions are ranked on the following factors:

  1. CBD – legality and required qualifications;
  2. Medical cannabis – legality and required qualifications;
  3. Recreational cannabis – legality and issuance of commercial cannabis licenses;
  4. Non-profit cannabis entities – permissibility and requirements;
  5. Commercial cannabis licenses – availability, caps and restrictions;
  6. Cannabis regulatory agencies – authority and qualifications;
  7. Developments and trends – support for ongoing cannabis legalization measures; and
  8. Business opportunities – number of operators, consumers and untapped industry potential.

Note: This ranking is subjective, and different factors weigh more heavily in different states. All of the information regarding each state is current as of the date of this posting. However, laws are constantly changing and with each election the statutes in any particular state may also change. In addition, this list does not consider federal laws, which may be consistent on a national level but can be applied selectively on a state level.

To jump to the ranking information for a particular state, just click a link below.

 Alabama: 33  Alaska: 6
 Arizona: 25  Arkansas: 23
 California: 1  Colorado: 4
 Connecticut: 20  Delaware: 26
 District of Columbia: 10  Florida: 12
 Georgia: 46  Hawaii: 17
 Idaho: 50  Illinois: 18
 Indiana: 39  Iowa: 34
 Kansas: 49  Kentucky: 40
 Louisiana: 32  Maine: 9
 Maryland: 14  Massachusetts: 3
 Michigan: 7  Minnesota: 27
 Mississippi: 47  Missouri: 35
 Montana: 19  Nebraska: 51
 Nevada: 2  New Hampshire: 31
 New Jersey: 13  New Mexico: 16
 New York: 11  North Carolina: 36
 North Dakota: 24  Ohio: 28
 Oklahoma: 30  Oregon: 5
 Pennsylvania: 22  Rhode Island: 29
 South Carolina: 41  South Dakota: 48
 Tennessee: 42  Texas: 45
 Utah: 43  Vermont: 15
 Virginia: 44  Washington: 8
 West Virginia: 21  Wisconsin: 38
 Wyoming: 37  

 

Barry Weisz is the managing partner of the Los Angeles office and the co-chair of Thomson Coburn’s Cannabis practice. He serves as a corporate strategist and outside general counsel to companies in a variety of industries. Michael Rosenblum is a member of Thompson Coburn’s Corporate and Securities practice and Cannabis industry team. Thompson Coburn’s Cannabis group represents a variety of clients in the cannabis industry.


Thompson Coburn advises clients on state laws governing the business of cannabis to facilitate compliance with those state laws. Federal laws concerning cannabis currently conflict with state laws in states that have legalized cannabis or possession of cannabis. Although federal enforcement policy may at times defer to these states’ laws and not enforce conflicting federal laws, interested businesses and individuals should be aware that compliance with state law in no way assures compliance with federal law, and there is a risk that conflicting federal laws may be enforced in the future. In addition to this Cannabis-specific note, readers should review Thompson Coburn’s Conditions of Use / Disclaimers page containing other important information.