Two U.S. states are officially living the high life as of Thursday, July 1.

Virginia and Connecticut both legalized recreational cannabis, making the plant legal to possess in small amounts for those 21 and older. Here’s what to expect with each of these legalizations.


  • Adults are allowed to grow up to four plants per household.
  • Adults can have an ounce or less in their possession. If a consumer is caught with more than one ounce, they are subject to a civil penalty of $25. Those found guilty of possessing a pound or more of cannabis are subject to a felony.
  • Adults can use cannabis in private residences, but the owner of the residence is also allowed to restrict use.
  • Selling, buying, or driving with cannabis is still illegal. Gifting, or “adult sharing,” of cannabis is legal if it’s one ounce or less and between two adults 21 or older.
  • Records of misdemeanor possessions with intent to distribute cannabis will be automatically sealed, however court records will remain public.


  • Adults are allowed to grow up to six plants per household but not until July 2023. Medical marijuana patients will be able to start growing in October 2021.
  • Adults can have 1.5 ounces or less in their possession. They can transport or have up to 5 ounces in their home as long as it’s in a locked compartment.
  • Generally speaking, adults in Connecticut can smoke cannabis anywhere they’re allowed to smoke cigarettes. However, this law does depend on individual zoning rules in different towns. Communities with more than 50,000 people must set aside designated areas for people to consume cannabis.
  • There is potential for prior possession charges to be erased. Depending on when the possession charge was given, citizens will have their records automatically erased or will have to petition the court.

While these laws are big steps for both states, there still aren’t legal marketplaces established in either, meaning cannabis can’t legally be purchased in either Virginia or Connecticut.

In Virginia, there aren’t plans for retail sales until 2024. State lawmakers will vote again next year on parts of the law in order to establish a structure for the marketplace. Some experts worry the delay in a legal marketplace will promote the growth of a black market.

In Connecticut, retail sales won’t begin until the end of 2020, at the earliest. Half of the licenses given out in a lottery system will be issued to low-income applicants.

The coming years will show how lawmakers in both Connecticut and Virginia handle new rules and regulations around cannabis and if the states lead others toward changing their recreational laws.

Photo courtesy of Nicole Plunkett via Unsplash.