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Timeline of the History of Marijuana Legalization in America

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These days it seems like a new state legalizes medical or recreational marijuana use on a monthly basis. But it was only about 20 years ago that just one state (California) had a marijuana legalization law.

In 1996, California passed the country’s first pro-marijuana law by legalizing the medical use of marijuana, reports The Motley Fool. That law sparked the revolution against marijuana’s decades-long onslaught of propaganda.

This timeline by The Motley Fool shares the U.S’s history with legalization:

1996

  • California voters pass Proposition 215, legalizing medical marijuana in the state.
  • Arizona voters pass a ballot initiative legalizing medical marijuana. However, the initiative is found to be invalid because of its wording related to marijuana prescriptions, which remained illegal under federal law.

1998

  • Alaska voters pass Measure 8, to allow medical use of marijuana.
  • District of Columbia (D.C.) voters pass Ballot Initiative 59, which permitted patients who were seriously ill to use medical marijuana when recommended by a licensed physician. However, the U.S. Congress voted to prevent the initiative from being enacted.
  • Oregon passes the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.
  • Washington voters pass Initiative 692, legalizing medical marijuana.

1999

  • Alaska legislature passes SB 94, amending previous provisions related to medical marijuana.
  • Maine voters pass Question 2, a ballot initiative legalizing medical marijuana.

2000

  • Colorado voters pass Ballot Amendment 20, to allow the legal use of medical marijuana.
  • Hawaii legislature passes SB862, legalizing the medical use of cannabis.
  • Nevada voters pass Question 9, to amend the state’s constitution to allow medical marijuana.

2002

  • Maine legislature passes LD 611, to create a nonprofit marijuana distribution center in the state.

2003

  • California legislature passes SB 420, which prohibits physicians from being punished for recommending medical marijuana to patients.

2004

  • Montana voters pass Initiative 148, allowing the legal use of medical marijuana for patients with debilitating conditions.
  • Vermont legislature passes SB 76, which legalizes the use of medical marijuana for patients with specified serious illnesses.

2007

  • New Mexico legislature passes SB 523, legalizing medical marijuana for compassionate use.
  • Oregon legislature passes SB 161, amending certain provisions and creating new provisions related to the use of medical marijuana in the state.
  • Rhode Island’s General Assembly passes SB 791, to allow the legal use of medical marijuana for certain debilitating medical conditions.
  • Vermont legislature passes SB 7, expanding the use of medical marijuana to more conditions.

2008

  • Michigan voters pass Proposal 1, which legalizes the medical use of marijuana in the state.

2009

  • U.S. Congress reverses its blocking of the District of Columbia’s Initiative 59 that voters passed in 1998.
  • The Obama administration issues a memo to federal prosecutors, encouraging them to refrain from prosecuting people who distribute medical marijuana in compliance with state laws.
  • Maine voters pass the Question 5 ballot initiative to create nonprofit medical cannabis dispensaries and to establish a statewide system for identification cards to protect patients who use medical marijuana from being arrested.
  • New Jersey legislature passes SB 119, legalizing medical marijuana.
  • Rhode Island General Assembly passes SB 185, amending its medical marijuana laws to establish compassion centers for the distribution of medical marijuana.

2010

  • Arizona voters pass Proposition 203, legalizing medical marijuana.
  • District of Columba council passes L18-2010, legalizing medical marijuana.
  • Maine legislature passes LD 1811, amending the state’s medical marijuana laws to, among other things, establish a medical advisory board for adding new conditions for which medical marijuana could legally be used.
  • Washington state legislature passes SB 5798, to allow authorized healthcare professionals other than physicians to recommend medical marijuana for patients.

2011

  • Delaware General Assembly passes SB 217, legalizing medical marijuana.
  • Montana legislature passes SB 423, expanding the state’s medical marijuana laws.
  • Vermont legislature passes SB 17, registering nonprofit organizations for distributing medical marijuana.
  • Washington state legislature passes SB 5073, further relaxing limitations on its medical marijuana laws.

2012

  • Colorado voters pass Amendment 64, legalizing the use of recreational marijuana.
  • Massachusetts voters pass the Question 3 ballot initiative, allowing the legal use of medical marijuana.
  • Washington state voters approve Initiative 502, legalizing recreational marijuana.

2013

  • The Obama administration issues the “Cole memo” to federal prosecutors to limit intervention in states that have legalized marijuana.
  • Illinois legislature passes HB 1, to allow the compassionate use of medical marijuana.
  • New Hampshire legislature passes HB 573, legalizing the use of medical cannabis.

2014

  • Alaska voters pass Ballot Measure 2, legalizing recreational marijuana.
  • District of Columbia voters pass Initiative 71, legalizing recreational marijuana.
  • Minnesota legislature passes SF 2470, allowing the legal use of medical marijuana.
  • New York state assembly passes A6357, legalizing medical marijuana.
  • Oregon voters pass Measure 91, legalizing recreational marijuana.

2016

  • Arkansas voters pass Issue 6 to amend the state constitution to legalize medical marijuana.
  • California voters pass Proposition 64, legalizing recreational marijuana.
  • Florida voters pass Amendment 2, legalizing medical marijuana.
  • Massachusetts voters pass the Question 4 ballot initiative, legalizing recreational marijuana.
  • Nevada voters pass the Question 2 ballot initiative, legalizing recreational marijuana.
  • North Dakota voters pass Measure 5, legalizing medical marijuana.
  • Ohio legislature passes HB 523, legalizing medical marijuana.
  • Pennsylvania legislature passes SB 3, legalizing medical marijuana.

2017

  • West Virginia legislature passes SB 386, legalizing medical marijuana.

2018

  • U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinds the Cole memo and other Obama administration policies related to enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized marijuana.
  • Oklahoma voters pass Question 788 to legalize medical marijuana.
  • Vermont legislature passes H. 511 bill, to allow the legal use of recreational marijuana in limited quantities.

To date, 31 states have legalized medical marijuana, while recreational marijuana is legal in 9 states and Washington D.C.

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