Timeline of cannabis legalization in the United States
The Legal history of cannabis in the United States began with federal prohibition in the early 20th century. Starting with Oregon in 1973, individual states began to liberalize marijuana laws through decriminalization and legalization of recreational marijuana, as well as the legalization of medical marijuana for non-recreational use.
2005: Denver, Colorado legalized marijuana with 54% in favor.
2009: Breckenridge, Colorado legalized marijuana by a 3-to-1 margin.
2013: Portland, Maine legalized marijuana.
2014: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania decriminalized marijuana.
2014: Washington D.C. legalized recreational marijuana with 69% in favor.
2014: New York City, New York decriminalized marijuana possession in quantities of 25 grams or less. States
1973: Oregon became the first state to decriminalize cannabis.
1975: Alaska removed all penalties for possession (not sale) of cannabis under 4 ounces in one's residence or home. Also, the ruling allowed up to 24 private, noncommercial growing plants. Sale of less than 28.349 grams became a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine;
1976: Maine decriminalized the possession of less than 2.5 ounces of marijuana, making it a civil violation punishable by fines ranging from $350 to $1,000. By 1978: Alaska, California, Colorado, Mississippi, New York, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Ohio had some form of cannabis decriminalization. Certain cities and counties, particularly in California, have adopted laws to further decriminalize cannabis.
1996: California legalized medical marijuana with California proposition 215.
1998: Oregon legalized medical marijuana. (Oregon Medical Marijuana Act)
1999: Maine voters approved Medical Marijuana with 61% approval, allowing patients to use, cultivate and possess marijuana if they had professional opinion by a physician that it would benefit them. Dispensaries and more qualifying illnesses were added in 2009, after 59% voter approval.
2000: Nevada legalized medical cannabis by amended the state constitution to sanction it. Colorado voters passed Amendment 20, amending the State constitution to allow the medical use of cannabis.
2004: Montana voters passed Initiative 148 on November 2, 2004 with 62% approval. It took effect immediately.
2007: New Mexico legalized the use of medical cannabis by patients authorized by the state. Vermont Senate Bill 7 went into effect July 1, 2007 further defining which patients qualify for medical cannabis and how much they may possess without penalty of law at the state level. The amendment allows physicians licensed outside of Vermont to recommend medical cannabis for Vermont patients.
2008: Michigan voters passed the Michigan Medical Marijuana Initiative, also known as Proposal 1, a measure allowing the use of medicinal cannabis for patients with debilitating medical conditions (including cancer, multiple sclerosis and HIV). State-wide the measure passed with 63% voting yes. The measure was approved by voters in every one of Michigan's 83 counties. The measure also required Michigan's health department to create a registry of qualified patients. Growing cannabis was also approved, for registered individuals using secure facilities.
2010: New Jersey legislature approved medical cannabis. Governor Corzine signed the bill into law on January 18. Arizona's proposition 203, also called "Arizona Medical Marijuana Act", passes.
2012: Massachusetts voters passed the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative with 63% support, legalizing the use of medical marijuana. Massachusetts was the 18th state to legalize the medical use of marijuana. Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults 21 years of age or older.
2014: Maryland became the 18th state to decriminalize marijuana. Minnesota and New York became the 22nd and 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana in some form.
2014: Alaska, and Oregon legalized recreational marijuana.
2014: Guam became the first U.S. territory to legalize cannabis for medical use.
2014: The US Justice Department allowed recognized Indian Reservations to regulate cannabis laws within their reservation. The laws in the reservations are allowed to be different from state and federal laws. As with State and Territories, the Federal government will not intervene as long as the reservations regulate strict control over marijuana. Some domestic nations such as the Yakama Nation and the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council rejected the approval to allow marijuana on their reservation.
2014: The United States House of Representatives passed a bill prohibiting the DEA from using funds to arrest medical marijuana patients in states with medical marijuana laws.
2011: Gallup reports a record 50% of Americans support legalization.
2013: The Pew Research Center presents U.S. survey results that show prohibition as a minority position for the first time in four decades: 52% supported legalization. Gallup reported a record 58% of Americans support nationwide legalization.
2014: Research conducted by the Pew Research Center in February shows an increase in the percentage of legalization supporters, from 52% to 54%, while the New York Times publishes its Editorial Boards series "High Time: An Editorial Series on Marijuana Legalization" in July.