Across the Country with Cannabis: Exploring Regional Differences
With cannabis legalization in states across the US, more and more growers are getting in on the game.

But just as every state's culture and scene is different, so is their cannabis cultivation and distribution.

Alaska is known for its grizzly bears, Arizona is synonymous with its Grand Canyon, and Idaho is known for its potatoes. But many states are also becoming more well-known for their marijuana products.

So where is cannabis grown in the United States? Let's take a look at the different regions across the US and what their cannabis industries are like.

Cannabis in the West

Emerald Triangle (Northern California)

The Emerald Triangle is located in Northern California and is the largest grow operation across the country. In fact, marijuana has been grown in this region since the 1960s and is considered some of the highest-quality across the globe. 

Three counties in the region, in particular, are most recognized for their contribution to marijuana cultivation, including Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity Counties. 

The marijuana grown in Humboldt County is so well-known for its high-quality that it's actually triggering an increase in land value in the area. Marijuana farmers in Humboldt County are very proud of the crops they produce to the point that the cannabis comes with proof of origin labels to show exactly where it comes from. 

In close proximity to Humboldt County is Mendocino County, where cannabis farmers are also making an attempt to solidify their place in the market to make their products more exclusive. There has been talk of developing a unique cannabis brand that would be difficult if not impossible to replicate, thereby preventing others from using the region’s name on their own branding. 

The soil in the Emerald Triangle is known to be ideal for marijuana growth and cultivation, creating a high-quality plant and cannabis products. 

With marijuana becoming increasingly legalized across the US, more and more players are vying for the market. By creating a specific brand of high-quality cannabis, the cultivators in the Emerald Triangle will have more control over where their products are distributed and sold and prevent others from taking over their territory. 

Read more: 11 High-End California Cannabis Dispensaries


Oregon has been growing marijuana for decades, with a thriving medical marijuana industry since 1998. Since then, thousands of marijuana growers have entered the cultivation scene, including both medical and recreational growers. 

Oregon has world-famous marijuana that is highly sought-after in much the same way that Chianti wine is sought after in the Tuscan region of Italy. 

The climate across the state varies, allowing different strains to express their genetics differently. In the southern end of the state, for instance, the climate has a Mediterranean characteristic which provides ideal conditions for growing cannabis. The Willamette Valley is moist and warm climate with very fertile soils, and eastern Oregon's high desert offset by cold winters favor Kush strains thanks to shorter flowering times.

Indoor marijuana is also grown, particularly in the coastal range as a result of its very cool climate. 

Right now, Oregon is in the midst of a glut in marijuana, with about 1.3 million pounds of marijuana sitting unsold. Clearly, in-state demand is not as strong as supply. 

When recreational marijuana was legalized in 2016, it lowered the barrier to entry and opened up the floodgates for more growers, increasing its production. But today, the state - which is well-known for its marijuana - has too much of it to sell to residents. 

Recreational marijuana became legal in Oregon in 2014, though the program didn’t take full effect until 2016. 

As of late, Oregon has made over $777 million in sales in recreational marijuana since legalizing it.

Washington State

The state of Washington legalized medical marijuana in 1998 and recreational marijuana in 2012. Since then, the state has been a major grower and provider of marijuana.

The fertile soil, temperate climate, and plenty of fresh water make Washington a great place to grow cannabis. Areas east of the Cascade range get plenty of sunlight, allowing farmers to grow all sorts of strains. Areas close to Seattle, on the other hand, get a ton of precipitation but not nearly as much sunlight, which makes this particular area better suited for growing indicas.

As far as growing indoor cannabis is concerned, Washington produces the second most amount in the country behind California. 

Since legalizing recreational cannabis, Washington has racked up about $1 billion in sales

It's estimated that more than $2 billion in cannabis will be sold in Washington state by 2020 since it started selling recreational marijuana in 2014.

Washington has a very concentrated legal cannabis market with more marijuana brands and unique products compared to both Oregon and Colorado combined. The Evergreen State has over 1,000 brands compared to less than 500 brands in the other two states.

As far as the entire Emerald Triangle is concerned, it's estimated that about 1.7 million pounds of marijuana are grown in this region every year, making it the top domestic supplier of the plant in the country. 

Every state has its own unique laws surrounding marijuana growth and distribution.

Cannabis in the Midwest

While you might assume that the west coast is where it's at in terms of cannabis production, distribution, and purchase, there are plenty of other hotspots across the country that boast their own marijuana grow ops, including the Midwest. Michigan, in particular, plays a key role in marijuana production in this part of the country.

As one of the states that have legalized recreational marijuana, Michigan is one of the best places to grow marijuana in the nation. In fact, most of the Midwest can be considered a great place to grow cannabis, which is why plenty of corn, soybean, and other major crops are grown in this region. 

Of course, Michigan's climate is not as mild as other parts like the Emerald Triangle. It doesn't get as much precipitation, either, which is why growers need to monitor water levels in their cannabis crops more closely. 

As of late, Michigan nets about $130 million a year in revenue from pot production. In fact, it's expected that the marijuana market in Michigan is slated to rival the likes of Colorado and Nevada in a few short years. More specifically, the state's recreational market could triple in size by 2023.

There's plenty of opportunity in Michigan. The state is likely on the short list of bigger players looking to plant roots and set up headquarters in the Midwest.

Read more: Grow Your Own Medicine: How to Cultivate Cannabis Indoors

Cannabis in the South


You can't smoke recreational cannabis in Florida, but you can use it for medicinal purposes. Medical cannabis recently became legal, and since then, it's seen the fastest-growing medical marijuana program in the country. Hundreds of thousands of people are already enrolled in the state's medical marijuana program, with at least 10,000 more people signing up each month.

Given the popularity of medical marijuana in Florida, it's no surprise that the state has opened up the floodgates for marijuana growers to open up shop. 

As of May 2018, Florida raked in more than $17 million from medical marijuana. Florida’s medical cannabis industry is expected to generate at least $2.5 billion in revenue every year by 2024. 

South Florida's tropical climate makes for the ideal growing environment for cannabis crops. 

But even though Florida's climate might be warm and sunny enough for growing cannabis outdoors, plenty of indoor crops are grown in Florida as well. That's because the intense heat and open sunshine can often be too intense for the plants. To have more control, many farmers are taking their grow ops indoors where the temperatures, sunlight, and soil can be more controlled. 

Read more: Rocky Mountain High: What To Know About Cannabis, Camping and Colorado

Cannabis in the Northeast 


Sales of recreational marijuana in Maine are slated to start in March 2020. But only a few towns and cities in the state have established solid rules for retail sales.

Right now, medical marijuana is legal in Maine and has generated over $83.4 million in revenues

When the recreational marijuana market in Maine is in full force, local businesses are slated to profit first as opposed to national cannabis companies or external investors. It will also have a more "farm-to-table" feel, which will fit in nicely with the state's current artisan image. 

Right now, adults aged 21 years and older are legally permitted to grow up to three marijuana plants, as long as they're grown inside the residence and out of public view.

Top cannabis strains produced in Maine include:

  • OG Kush - This hybrid strain is used by people looking for both medical and recreational effects. 
  • Blueberry - This indica-dominant strain has a moderate amount of CBD and is a popular medicinal strain known for its anti-anxiety effects.
  • Tangerine Dream - This strain is particularly useful for alleviating pain and aches.


Massachusetts’ cannabis market is just beginning to grow. While voters legalized adult-use in 2016, but it wasn’t until late 2018 when people could purchase cannabis in stores. 

In the first six months of 2019, marijuana sales are off to a strong start, approaching $140 million through the end of May, according to Marijuana Business Daily

Although medical cannabis has been legal since 2012, the state’s industry hasn’t been a particularly large one. One cannabis farmer told MassLive that he expects it will take some time for supply to meet demand in the state.

Adults over 21 are allowed to grow up to six plants per person, or a maximum of 12 plants per household with two or more adults. 


Cannabis has been legal in Vermont since 2018, when the state’s legislature voted to allow adult use. The state was the first to legalize marijuana through legislation instead of by a ballot initiative. 

While it’s legal for individuals to consume and grow cannabis, retail sales are still prohibited. The state Senate voted for a proposal to establish a retail market by 2021, but the bill still has not passed the House. 

Adults aged 21 and older are allowed to grow up to nine marijuana plants in Vermont. Of these nine plants, no more than two of them can be mature. 

Final Thoughts

Every state has its own unique laws surrounding marijuana growth and distribution, and their distinct cultures also play a role in how their own cannabis industries are shaped. If you're looking for a unique way to spend an extended holiday, perhaps a tour around the country experiencing each legalized state's cannabis culture is something you may want to add to your bucket list!