Here are the Worst U.S. Cities for Pot Smokers
BOSTON ( MainStreet) Colorado and Washington State recently legalized marijuana for recreational use, and other jurisdictions could soon follow suit. But here's a look at some U.S. cities where stoners are about as welcome as a bad case of Dorito breath.
"In avoiding these cities, [pot smokers] will certainly stand a better chance of having both the ability to purchase their drug of choice and to smoke it freely or at least without the threat of lengthy jail sentences," says Randy Nelson of real estate site Movoto.com, which recently ranked America's 100 largest cities for pot-friendliness.
The site graded communities on a weighted scale of seven factors, from whether applicable state laws legalize weed for recreational and/or medicinal use to how many hemp festivals and other "4:20-friendly" offerings a city has on a per-capita basis.
Movoto put together the analysis at a time more and more states are taking a lenient attitude toward pot.
In addition to Colorado and Washington voters' decisions to OK recreational weed, some 20 states have legalized pot for medical use and more than a dozen have "decriminalized" recreational marijuana. Adults caught with small personal stashes in those states face modest fines but no prison time.
By contrast,"The most obvious connection [pot-unfriendly cities] share is that they're all located in states that have the strictest anti-marijuana laws," Nelson says.
Read on to check out the cities at the bottom of the baggie in Movoto's rankings (or click here to see which communities placed the highest for embracing the high).
In addition to looking at state weed laws and per-capita hemp festivals, the study considered local rates of head shops and medical-marijuana dispensaries, as well as what percent of residents have prescriptions for medicinal pot.
All figures refer to just cities rather than entire metro areas, while details of state anti-pot laws are based on information from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws .
Get caught with pot in Birmingham and the term "Alabama Slammer" could mean a whole lot more to you than just a drink.
That's because the Yellowhammer State allows judges to throw people in prison for as long as one year for possessing any amount of marijuana, even for a first offense.
Lawbreakers can also lose their driver's licenses for six months, while possessing pot paraphernalia can get you up to an additional 12 months in prison. And if you're busted with hashish, the state can send you away for up to 10 years regardless of how little you had in your possession.
Because there's no exception for medical marijuana, Birmingham has zero legal dispensaries and no residents with medicinal-marijuana cards. The 212,400-population city also ranks poorly for per-capita head shops and hemp festivals.