An Overview of Marijuana Compliance Laws on the East Coast: State-by-State Highlights

California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana. The eastward spread of legalization has been a slow climb, but several states have found ways to implement laws that are friendlier to marijuana users if not legalized. 

Currently, marijuana is legal for adult recreational use in 18 states as well as Washington, D.C. Medical marijuana is legal in 37 states and rising. In 2021, four states enacted legislation legalizing marijuana use in some form. One of the hardships of the industry is the inconsistent regulatory landscape from state to state.

East Coast Marijuana Compliance

As the east coast begins to open up, each state has its own set of unique regulations and licenses. There is no consistent administrative body for cannabis compliance and regulations. States have chosen to create new agencies or attach responsibilities to existing ones given the existing size and scope of various offices and their abilities to expand. 

Here are some of the highlights from states that are blazing their own trails in east coast marijuana compliance.


As of July 1, 2021, recreational cannabis is legal in Connecticut, along with medical marijuana. Recreational sales are expected to begin in 2022. The current medical program in Connecticut allows only licensed pharmacists to serve as facility managers and oversee the dispensing of all medical marijuana products. There are approximately a dozen licenses and permits for marijuana businesses in Connecticut. Most of these are issued through the Department of Consumer Protection and encompass everything from dispensary licenses, to brand registration, and facility employee certification. 


The bill to legalize medical marijuana in Florida was passed in 2017. Cannabis is only considered ‘medical’ in Florida if it is purchased by a qualified patient in a licensed medical marijuana treatment center. Licenses are required for physicians, dispensaries and other business areas. Marijuana compliance is overseen by the Florida Office of Medical Marijuana Use


Medical marijuana is available in Georgia to certain qualified persons to legally possess up to 20 fluid ounces of “low THC oil.” The Georgia Department of Public Health issues a “Low THC Oil Registry Card” to people with specific medical conditions. The card proves that they are authorized to have the oil and protect them from arrest. There are no physicians involved because it is not legal, it is just decriminalized for the registered population. 


The state of Maine has a dedicated office under the Department of Administrative and Financial Services. The Office of Marijuana Policy oversees all facets of cannabis in Maine. This includes identification cards, dispensaries, cultivation, manufacturing, testing facilities, and more. The regulatory system includes tracking marijuana plants and products, enforcement and compliance, health and safety data, labeling and packaging, and licensing and fees.

New York

New York is unique in that they have two separate regulatory bodies for medical and recreational marijuana. New York medical marijuana is overseen by the Department of Health. The state legalized recreational use in September of 2021. The comprehensive roll-out plan involves the creation of the Office of Cannabis Management. Once operational, this program will govern all aspects of cannabis in New York. 

North and South Carolina

Neither of the Carolinas has legalized marijuana in any form. Both states have pending legislation, but it is moving relatively slowly through the judicial system. Cannabis is currently completely illegal and being caught in possession of marijuana could result in harsh penalties. 


The south is not known for being cannabis-friendly. Virginia is the first state in the south to make serious efforts towards legalization. As of July 2021, it is legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. A household may grow up to four plants total (not per person). There are no marijuana licensing compliance requirements, although there are legal stipulations about the transfer of marijuana from person to person.  

Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland

All six of these states have legalized medical marijuana laws, but have not legalized recreational use yet. Recreational sales are slowly coming to New Jersey. 

How to Stay Compliant with Marijuana Laws on the East Coast

Simplifya serves much of the east coast and New England region, providing cannabis compliance tools across numerous industries in the cannabis space. Check out the cannabis compliance service map to see which states we’re helping cannabis licensed operators maintain compliance.

The biggest fear of most legislators is the lack of cannabis compliance. Without federal mandates, each state has a unique approach to cannabis regulation and compliance. 

Simplifya has custom solutions to the majority of your industry needs, helping you streamline reporting and tracking, audits, licensing, and more.

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