Under U.S. federal law, buying, selling, growing or possessing marijuana is illegal, despite direct legal conflict with certain state laws. Specifically, if you live in the following states or Washington, D.C., medicinal marijuana possession may be legal: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. However, the possession limit differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction; for instance, California allows up to 18 plants and 8 ounces of dried, smoke-ready cannabis, whereas Delaware draws the line at 6 ounces of smoke-ready marijuana without any plants [source: ProCon].
Hippie hoards haven't hauled their rolling papers and bongs over those more freewheeling borders because the state laws aren't intended to get everyone high. Instead, marijuana-legalizing legislation is intended to serve people with medical needs, which is why marijuana dispensaries are sometimes euphemistically referred to as "compassionate-care clinics" [source: Parloff]. Doctors can even recommend (rather than prescribe, since marijuana isn't an FDA-approved drug) optimum strains for what ails. Although some physicians are more liberal with their recommendations, medicinal marijuana's therapeutic properties aren't to be laughed off entirely. Cannabis is used to treat the painful symptoms of a variety of neurodegenerative disorders and chronic diseases, such as spinal cord injuries, arthritis and HIV. For instance, a study conducted at the University of California's Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research found that marijuana could effectively calm muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis [source: Hoeffel].
Though the intentions for consuming marijuana might be different for medicinal users compared to recreational ones, many THC-toting buds all blossom from one of three basic cultivation methods: standard indoor, standard outdoor and hydroponic.