Progressive Policies A historical timeline of cannabis legalization in the U.S.

Our nation’s colorful history of medical and recreational cannabis was shaped by the pioneering activists who risked their well-being to fight for access. The United States’ earliest medical cannabis dispensaries were frequently called “buyers clubs” and were modeled after secret clubs that sold holistic herbal medicines to patients with AIDS. These would eventually evolve into elaborate medical cannabis dispensaries and recreational retail outlets. As we reflect back on the many steps forward we have made in the industry, let us not forget how far we have yet to go.

1991

November 5–San Francisco voters approved Proposition P by a landslide, which called upon the state of California to stop punishing doctors who prescribed medical cannabis. Proposition P would enable the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club, the first public dispensary in the United States.

1996

November 6–Proposition 215, which allows patients and their primary caregivers to possess and cultivate cannabis with a physician’s recommendation, took effect after being approved with 56 percent voter approval. Proposition 215 historically made California the first state to establish a medical cannabis program.

1998

December 3–Measure 67, the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, took effect and legalized medical cannabis. Alaskan voters approved Measure 8, the Alaska Medical Marijuana Act, which legalized medical cannabis. Washington voters approved Initiative 692, the Washington Medical Marijuana Initiative, which legalized medical cannabis.

1999

November 2–Question 2, Maine Medical Marijuana for Specific Illnesses, which legalized medical cannabis, took effect in Maine.

2000

June 14–Hawaii’s then-Gov. Ben Cayetano signed Act 228, which effectively legalized medical cannabis in the Hawaiian Islands.

November 7–Amendment 20, the Colorado Medical Use of Marijuana, which legalized medical cannabis in Colorado, received approval by voters by a 53.53 percent vote in favor. Nevada voters approved Question 9, although it would take another 15 years before medical cannabis would become available in dispensaries.

2004

July 1–Vermont legislature approved Senate Bill 76, which took effect upon its passage and effectively legalized medical cannabis.

November 2–Montana voters approved I-148, The Montana Medical Marijuana Allowance Initiative, which effectively legalized medical cannabis.

2006

January 3–The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act was enacted by Rhode Island legislature and signed into law.

2007

March 13–New Mexico legislature passed Senate Bill 523, The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, which legalized medical cannabis.

2008

November 1–Michigan voters approved Proposal 1, the Michigan Medical Marihuana Initiative, which legalized medical cannabis, but didn’t set up dispensaries.

2010

January 18–New Jersey then-Gov. Jon Corzine approved Senate Bill 119, the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, which legalized medical cannabis.

November 2–California voters unexpectedly failed to pass Proposition 19. If it had passed, Prop. 19 would have made California the first state to approve recreational cannabis.

November 13–Arizona approved Proposition 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Question, by a narrow margin. It marked the third time Arizona has approved medical cannabis, but the first attempts failed to take effect.

2011

May 13–Delaware then-Gov. Jack Markell signed Senate Bill 17, The Delaware Medical Marijuana Act, which effectively legalized medical cannabis.

2012

November 12–Colorado approved Amendment 64 and Washington approved Initiative 502, making both states the first to legalize recreational cannabis. Many more states would follow suit, and the cannabis movement would never be the same.

2014

January 1- Recreational cannabis sales historically began in Colorado.

March 26–Utah became the first state to legalize low-THC CBD oil only for patients with epilepsy. A handful of other states would follow.

May 29–Minnesota legislature approved Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Research Act, which allowed limited forms of medical cannabis.

July 7–New York became the 23rd state to legalize medical cannabis with the Compassionate Care Act.

2015

February 24–Alaska’s recreational cannabis sales began following the passage of Measure 8.

April 2–Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed Haleigh’s Hope Act, which legalized CBD oil for epileptic patients.

June 1–Texas then-Gov. Greg Abbott signed the Texas Compassionate Use Act which legalized CBD oil for patients with epilepsy.

August 1–The North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act, which legalized CBD oil for patients with epilepsy.

June 30–Louisiana legislature legalized medical cannabis with Senate Bill 143, the Louisiana Therapeutic Marijuana Act.

October 1–The first day of recreational sales began in Oregon following the passage of Measure 91, the Oregon Legalized Medical Marijuana Initiative.

2016

April 17, Gov. Tom Wolf signed Act 16, making Pennsylvania the 24th state to legalize medical cannabis. The law went into effect May 17.

June 9–Gov. John Kasich signed a bill legalizing medical cannabis into law in Ohio. The law went into effect September 8.

November 9–Voters in California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts all approved recreational bills, doubling the amount of states that allow recreational cannabis.

2017

January 30–Maine’s Marijuana Legalization Act took effect, allowing retail outlets to open.

April 6–Senate Bill 386 took effect in West Virginia, which legalized non-smokable forms of medical cannabis including vaporized preparations.

April 26–Indiana’s House Bill 1148 was signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb, which legalized CBD preparations for patients with epilepsy.

July 1–Nevada’s recreational cannabis sales began after the implementation of Question 2.

2018

January 1–Recreational cannabis sales are scheduled to commence in California following the passage of Proposition 64.

Summer–Maine recreational sales are predicted to begin late, sometime in the summer of 2018.

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