By Alice Blunt

It’s an exciting time for marijuana-lovers in the United States: nearly every year, the sale and consumption of marijuana is becoming legal in an additional state of the union.  As of the time of this writing, cannabis is legal to some degree in nearly two-thirds of the US states. Just because marijuana is legal, however, does not mean that there are not restrictions on where and how weed can be enjoyed. One of the biggest things cannabis consumers should be aware of is the varied restrictions on consuming marijuana in a public space, even if weed is otherwise legal in the state. Public consumption laws in US states where marijuana is legal may surprise you. 

Is it Legal to Smoke Pot in Public in California?

Residents of California cannot consume, smoke, eat, or vape cannabis on public property.  Also, smoking marijuana where tobacco is prohibited is not allowed, unless there is a local ordinance specifically allowing one to do so.  That means that smoking a joint on a public school campus, whether a university or at a public high school, is not allowed. It’s also an illegal activity in a restaurant, bar, public park or inside a city building.  Essentially, the only place one can legally consume cannabis in California is on private property; in a private residence, for example (as long as it’s not a non-smoking building).

However, this restriction is changing somewhat with the arrival of private cannabis lounges.  The passage of Proposition 64 meant that local governments can permit cannabis consumption at certain public locations. Cannabis lounges have already opened in San Francisco and Oakland, and permits for lounges are being considered in West Hollywood, Palm Springs and Sacramento.  Although the smoking of marijuana would be legal in these lounges, the imbibing of alcohol or the use of tobacco products would not be.

Is it legal to use cannabis in public in Colorado?

Colorado’s laws on public consumption are pretty similar to California’s: marijuana cannot be consumed publicly or openly and this applies to nearly everywhere: transportation facilities, sports or amusement venues, parks and playgrounds (including the beloved Red Rocks Amphitheatre), schools, restaurants, and office buildings.  There are a few “locally licensed consumption venues” in Colorado Springs and Denver; otherwise, Colorado residents can consume cannabis in their own home, assuming they own their home or their lease does not have smoking restrictions.

Can I legally smoke pot in public in Massachusetts?

Technically, no, you cannot.  (Are we beginning to see a pattern here?)  Massachusetts law states that marijuana cannot be used in any form (smoking, vaping, edibles, etc.) on any public or federal land within the state.  However, in reality, enforcing this is a low priority for Massachusetts law enforcement, who would much rather educate the public about the law then write people tickets for breaking it.  Massachusetts police tend to only write citations for the worst-case users – those who are repeat offenders and have ignored prior warnings.

What are the laws for using marijuana in public in Washington state?

The marijuana public consumption law in Washington state is very similar to that in Massachusetts: it is illegal to consume marijuana in Washington in public or in view of the public.  The only place where you can technically consume marijuana openly is in a private residence as long as the property owner allows it. However, in reality, police in Washington state (especially in Seattle) have made enforcing the “no public consumption of pot” rule a low priority and, if they see it, will typically tell the user to be more careful about using in public again in the future.

Can I use marijuana in public in Oregon?

We’ll give you one guess for this question: that’s right, the answer is no!  Much like the other states we’ve mentioned, the recreational use of marijuana is prohibited in public places in the state of Oregon and it is also prohibited to toke your mary jane in public view.  Recreational use is allowed at home or on private property. Oregon employers, landlords, and licensing bodies do maintain the discretion to enforce their own regulations as far as the use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana by employees, tenants and licensees, however.

What are the public cannabis consumption laws in Michigan?

No surprise here: though the recreational use of marijuana is legal in the state of Michigan, it remains illegal to use marijuana in public in the state.  This restriction includes using cannabis on the front porch or in one’s driveway as these places are considered “publicly accessible” and thus subject to the law.  The only truly legal place to use pot is inside one’s home (assuming the user owns his or her own home).

When it comes to pot consumption in so many legal US states, home is truly where the legal pot use is.