Current U.S. State Cannabis Sales Limits Allow Large Doses for Use or Diversion

Published in: American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2021). doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2020.11.005

Posted on on February 17, 2021

by Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Jason G. Blanchette, Marlene C. Lira, Rosanna Smart, Timothy S. Naimi

Read More

Access further information on this document at Elsevier Inc

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.


Legal limits on the amount of cannabis sold per transaction in states with recreational cannabis may promote moderate use and limit diversion. However, state sales limits are heterogeneous and difficult to interpret in terms of tetrahydrocannabinol dose equivalents.


This cross-sectional study examined how transaction sales limits on recreational cannabis translate to tetrahydrocannabinol doses among U.S. states allowing commercial cannabis sales as of January 1, 2020. Weight-based quantity limits by cannabis type (flower/bud, concentrates, and edibles) were converted into grams of tetrahydrocannabinol content per transaction using known potency values in 2020.


Weight-based sales limits for flower and concentrate vary considerably across states (range = 1.0–2.5 oz for flower and 3.5–15.0 g for concentrate), whereas limits for edible cannabis are heterogeneous. A total of 4 states have independent limits for each product category, and 6 states place limits across all products sold in the transaction. Because no states impose limits on the potency of flower or concentrates, the small differences in the weight-based limits translate into large differences in grams of tetrahydrocannabinol allowed to be sold. Assuming a typical dose of 10 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol, current laws allow for sales of up to 560 (Alaska) to 2,283 (Michigan) doses per transaction on the basis of median product potencies.


All states allow a large number of tetrahydrocannabinol doses per transaction, larger than what is typically consumed by daily users over a month. States concerned about public health and diversion should consider reducing sales limits and basing them on total tetrahydrocannabinol content across all purchased products.

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.