Individual State Laws & News
Choose and click a state to learn more about that state’s history and current standing with cannabis activity.
Cannabis in the United States Timeline
Below is a cursory breakdown of the history of cannabis in America from the 1900s til today.
We have included some other historical events to help place the “attitude of the times” when such laws were passed.
1910s – 1960s
1911: Massachusetts requires a prescription for sales of “Indian hemp”
1913: California, Maine, Wyoming, and Indiana ban marijuana
1914 – 1918: World War 1 begins, with America in the fight from 1914-1918
1915: Utah and Vermont ban marijuana
1915: The first telephone conversation happens between New York and San Francisco
1917: Colorado legislators made the use and cultivation of cannabis a misdemeanor;
1919: Illegal to consume and sell alcoholic beverages in the United States until passage of the 21st Amendment, repealing the 18th, on December 5, 1933.
1923: Iowa, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont ban marijuana
1927: New York, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, and Nebraska ban marijuana
1929 – 1939: The Great Depression hits America.
1931: Illinois bans marijuana.
1931: Texas declared cannabis a “narcotic”, allowing up to life sentences for possession.
1933: North Dakota and Oklahoma ban marijuana. By this year, 29 states have criminalized cannabis.
1939 – 1945: World War 2 happens
1955: Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat.
1968: Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated
1969: One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
1970 – 1990s
A Time of Changes
1973: Oregon decriminalized cannabis.
1973: Texas law was amended to declare possession of four ounces or less a misdemeanor.
1973 – 1978: California, Colorado, Mississippi, New York, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Ohio decriminalized cannabis. Certain cities and counties, particularly in California, adopted laws to further decriminalize cannabis.
1974: Watergate happens and President Nixon becomes the first president to resign from office.
1975: Alaska’s Supreme Court establishes that the right to privacy includes possession of small amounts of marijuana
1976: Maine decriminalized cannabis.
1977: South Dakota decriminalized cannabis, but repealed that law “almost immediately” afterward.
1977: Star Wars movie first comes out
1978: New Mexico passes the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act, becoming the first state to pass legislation recognizing the medical value of marijuana.
1979: Virginia passed legislation allowing doctors to recommend cannabis for glaucoma or the side effects of chemotherapy.
1981: Reagan became the 40th president of the United States
1982: Alaska’s legislature decriminalizes possession of cannabis
1986: Martin Luther King Day is officially observed as a federal holiday
1989: Berlin Wall comes down
1990: Alaska re-criminalizes cannabis by voter initiative, restoring criminal penalties for possession of any amount of cannabis.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA BEGINS
1990 – 2010s
Moving into the Future
1996: California legalized medical cannabis. (California Proposition 215)
1996: First marijuana dispensary, Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana appears in Fairfax, California, USA.
1998: Oregon, Alaska, and Washington legalized medical cannabis.
1998: Monica Lewinsky scandel begins
1999: Maine legalized medical cannabis.
2000: Hawaii, Nevada, and Colorado legalized medical cannabis. Hawaii became the first state to do so by state legislature.
2001: Dotcom bubble pops
2001: World Trade Towers fall; War on Terrorism begins
2004: Montana and Vermont legalized medical cannabis.
2004: Facebook launches.
2007: New Mexico legalized medical cannabis.
2007: Apple releases iPhone
2008: Michigan legalized medical cannabis. Massachusetts decriminalized cannabis.
2008: Barack Obama elected as first black president of United States
2010: New Jersey and Arizona legalized medical cannabis. (Arizona’s proposition 203)
2010: California decriminalizes possession to a civil infraction
2012: Massachusetts legalized medical cannabis. (Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative)
RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA BEGINS
2010 – NOW
An old New Frontier
2012: Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana for adults 21 years of age or older.
2013: Dr. Sanjay Gupta came out in favor of medical marijuana.
2014: Maryland decriminalized cannabis. Minnesota and New York legalized medical cannabis.
2014: Utah legalizes CBD oil, becoming the first state to legalize a cannabis-based medicine without legalizing medical cannabis entirely.
2014: Oklahoma legalizes trials of CBD oil.
2014: Alaska and Oregon legalized recreational cannabis.
2015: Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas legalized CBD oil.
2015: Louisiana legalized medical cannabis.
2015: Delaware decriminalized cannabis.
2016: Ohio and Pennsylvania legalized medical cannabis via state legislature.
2016: Illinois decriminalized cannabis.
2016: California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts legalized recreational cannabis via ballot initiative.
2016: Florida, North Dakota, and Arkansas legalized medical cannabis via ballot initiative.
2017: Vermont becomes first state to pass recreational cannabis bill entirely through elected legislature on May 10, 2017.
2017: Mexico legalized medical marijuana with the Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto signing it into law.
2017: West Virginia becomes the 29th state to legalize medical marijuana – but you can’t smoke it.