Medical Marijuana Legalization Timeline


A few decades ago, smoking or consuming marijuana in any form was illegal in the United States. Dealing in hemp was considered a crime. However, as we speak, over 33 states have legalized the use of medical marijuana in the treatment of various ailments. How long has it taken for the United States to get here as far as the cannabis industry is concerned? Let’s take a more in-depth look at the timeline of the legalization of marijuana in the U.S.

Key Milestones in the Legalization of Marijuana in the USA:


1996 – The State of California passed Proposition 215 that legalized the use of medical marijuana by its residents. However, the vote by Arizona voters was rejected since the wording about the prescription was considered illegal by federal law.

1998- Alaska, Washington, and Oregon passed a bill allowing the use of medical marijuana. In the same year, the District of Columbia upvoted Ballot Initiative 59 that allowed those critically ill to use medical marijuana under the direction of a physician. However, the U.S Congress rejected the enactment of the Initiative.

1999 – Legislators in Alaska passed S.B. 94 that had amended the foregoing provisions regarding medical marijuana. Mane also approved Ballot 2, which sort to legalize medical marijuana in the state.

2000 – Voters in Colorado passed Ballot Amendment 20 that made use of medical marijuana legal in the state. In the same year, legislators in Hawaii passed SB862 that legalized the use of medical marijuana. In Nevada, an amendment was made on the state’s constitution, where voters passed Question 9 legalizing marijuana use in the state.

2002 – In the State of Maine, LD 611 was passed that allowed the creation of a marijuana distribution center within the state.

2003 – California continues to break new ground in the marijuana legalization journey by passing SB 420 into law. The policy prohibited the state from punishing physicians for prescribing medical marijuana to their patients.


Does one need to have mmid card to get medical marijuana in California?

Does One Need an MMID Card to Buy Marijuana from a Dispensary in California


2004 – Montana joins the growing number of states allowing the use of medical cannabis by passing Initiative 148. The Initiative allowed the use of medical marijuana to treat debilitating medical ailments. Vermont also passed S.B. 76 that allowed those with serious illnesses to use medical marijuana.

2007 – Legislators in Vermont pass S.B. 7 that added the conditions treatable using medical marijuana. New Mexico also passes SB 523 that legalized medical marijuana in the state. The General Assembly in Rhode’s Island also passed SB 791 that made it legal for those with certain severe conditions to use medical marijuana. During this year, Oregon legislators amended and created new provisions on the use of medical marijuana.

2008 – During this year, legislators in Michigan pass into law the use of medical marijuana.

2009 – Obama administration directs federal prosecutors through a memo preventing them from prosecuting marijuana distributors. The State of Maine goes a step further by issuing its residents with medical marijuana I.D.s to prevent them from any arrests. In the same year, New Jersey also legalized marijuana.

2010 – Arizona started the decade by passing Proposition 203 that legalized marijuana in the state. Maine continues its legislature regarding marijuana by establishing an advisory board to guide on how medical marijuana would be used. In the same year, the legislature in Washington passed the SB 5798 that permitted licensed physicians in the state to prescribe medical marijuana to their patients.

2011 – Delaware and Montana passed SB 217 and SB 423, respectively, legalizing marijuana. In Vermont, NGOs were permitted to distribute medical marijuana by passing S.B. 17 into law.

2012 – Massachusetts joins the pack by legalizing marijuana through the passing of the Question 3 Ballot Initiative. In the same year, the State of Colorado passed Amendment 64 that legalized recreational marijuana. Washington also passed a bill that made it legal to sell and distribute recreational weed.



2013- State prosecutors received the ‘Cole memo’ during the Obama administration that asked them to be lenient in states where marijuana was legal. In the State of Illinois, compassionate use of medical marijuana was allowed bypassing H.B. 1 into law. New Hampshire also legalized the use of medicinal hemp.

2014 – Bypassing Ballot measure 2, Alaska allowed the use of recreational marijuana in the state. Oregon and the District of Columbia also passed bills allowing the use of recreational marijuana. New York passed A6357 in the same year that allowed the legal use of marijuana. Minnesota also legalized the use of medical marijuana during this year.

2016 – During this year, over eight states legalized the use of medical and recreational marijuana. Arkansas passed Issue 6, while Florida passed Amendment 2 into law. California and Nevada also legalized recreational marijuana by passing Proposition 64 and Question 2 Ballot Initiative, respectively. North Dakota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania also authorized the use of medical marijuana.

2017 – West Virginia passes SB 386 into law that legalized medical marijuana in the state.

2018 – Oklahoma passes Question 788 legalizing marijuana in its state. The then U.S. Attorney General rescinds the Obama Administration’s Cole memo that touched on enforcement by federal officers on those involved in medical cannabis.

2019 – A bill seeking to protect financial providers dealing with companies in the cannabis industry is passed by the U.S House of Representatives. However, the law has stalled in the Senate.


Medical Marijuana Effectiveness

Medical Marijuana Effectiveness from Treating Illnesses


Barriers to Legalization of Marijuana in the United States:


As much as many states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, there are still many barriers to its being recognized as a legal drug by Federal Law. Studies that show the short term and long term side effects of marijuana constitute a significant barrier to its approval. Another primary concern is that cannabis will be abused by society and comprise the safety of citizens. The policymaking process in the United States is also a significant barrier to the complete legalization of hemp since the Senate holds power to prevent its legalization.


The Future of Legalization of Medical Marijuana in the USA:


In the coming years, we will most likely witness the legalization of the use of weed by more states. Some of the places where the laws touching on the use of medical marijuana could relax their restrictions. It’s also possible for federal legislation to recognize the benefits of marijuana. However, the older generation that forms the majority of the U.S voters are still opposed to the legalization of marijuana and may not change their stand any time soon.

That said, MMJ Doctor are available to provide you with easy accessibility to medical marijuana by connecting you to qualified consultants and assisting you in obtaining a Medical Marijuana Card. Contact us today for affordable and flexible payment plans.


Book an Appointment Today to Get Your Medical Marijuana Card!


Medical marijuana card online

Get Medical Marijuana Card Online

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