Special Report

12 States Smoking the Most Marijuana

Portland Fishing Harbour at Sunset, Maine
Source: Thinkstock

6. Maine
> Pct. using marijuana in past year:
19.4%
> Total users: 224,000 (15th lowest)
> Pct. using illicit drugs other than marijuana in past month:
2.9% (11th lowest)
> Max. fine for possession:
$20,000

In Maine, 19.4% of residents 12 years and older have used marijuana in the past year and 12.6% have used the drug in the past month, each the sixth largest share of any state in the country. While marijuana is especially popular in Maine, other illicit drugs are not. Only 2.9% of state residents 12 years and older have used illicit drugs other than pot in the past month, a smaller share than the comparable national 3.3% share.

For those with certain qualifying medical conditions such as epilepsy and PTSD, possession, cultivation, and use of the drug have been legal in Maine since December 22, 1999. Even without a doctor’s recommendation, Maine residents can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana without risking criminal charges. The maximum fine for possession in the state of $20,000 is reserved for those caught in possession of at least 20 pounds of pot, a criminal offense punishable by up to 10 years of jail time.

Beautiful cascade waterfall in Sol Duc falls trail, Washington
Source: Thinkstock

5. Washington
> Pct. using marijuana in past year:
19.5%
> Total users: 1,105,000 (9th highest)
> Pct. using illicit drugs other than marijuana in past month:
4.0% (4th highest)
> Max. fine for possession:
$10,000

Washington voters passed Initiative 502 on November 6, 2012, which allowed the state to regulate the sale of recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana has been permitted in the state since 1998. The high percentage of residents using the drug, at nearly one in every five people 12 years and older, is likely tied to the state’s pot-friendly public policy. Legalization has also been very lucrative for the state’s government. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, Washington has generated $210 million in excise taxes from recreational marijuana over the past several years.

In contrast with Colorado’s path towards legalization, which was based largely on advocacy for marijuana use, the Washington campaign argued marijuana should be legalized, and regulated, not because it is safe, but because it is dangerous.

Wrangell City and Borough, Alaska
Source: Wikimedia Commons

4. Alaska
> Pct. using marijuana in past year:
19.5%
> Total users: 114,000 (6th lowest)
> Pct. using illicit drugs other than marijuana in past month:
3.4% (20th highest)
> Max. fine for possession:
$50,000

In the past two years, roughly 7,000 Alaskans aged 12 and up tried pot for the first time. First time users are among the 19.5% state residents who have used marijuana in the past year. High usage rates in Alaska may not be surprising, as the state is one of only four in the country to have legalized marijuana possession. Adults 21 and over can legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants. However, penalties for possession of larger amounts of the drug are relatively harsh in Alaska. Anyone caught with 4 ounces of pot can face felony charges, up to five years in jail, and a $50,000 fine.