Looking at the Last 20 Years of Marijuana Legalization in the US


With California welcoming legal recreational sales starting the first day of 2018, weed’s come a long way in the last 20 years. Taking a look back, the history of cannabis in the US has been colored by those who have refused to give up the fight for freedom, something that’s resulted in the huge change of cannabis laws we see today.  

California officially became the first state in the nation to legalize medical cannabis in 1996, and there have been several steps both backwards and forward since to bring us where we are with current marijuana legislation.

While we still have a long way to go, we really have come so far. Here are some of the highlights of the last two decades that have brought us to our current state of cannabis affairs in the US.

1998-2018: 20 Years of US Marijuana Policy in the Making

1998: Oregon, Alaska, and Washington legalize medical marijuana.

1999: Maine legalizes medical marijuana.

2000: Hawaii, Colorado, and Nevada legalize medical marijuana. It will be 15 years however, before weed is available in Nevada in dispensaries.

2004: Vermont and Montana legalize medical marijuana.

2006: Rhode Island legalizes medical marijuana.

2008: Michigan legalizes marijuana. No dispensaries are set up, however.

2010: New Jersey legalizes medical marijuana. California almost becomes the first state to legalize recreational cannabis, but Proposition 19 unexpectedly does not pass. Arizona passes legalizes medical marijuana for the second time, after the first efforts fail.

2011: Delaware legalizes medical marijuana.

2012: Colorado and Washington become the first states to legalize recreational cannabis.

2013: Charolette’s Web strain makes headlines as one of the first high-CBD strains that is shown to be effective in treating grand mal seizures in children. CBD will soon become one of the most talked about discoveries in marijuana history.

2014: Recreational sales in Colorado begin. Utah becomes the first state to legalize low-THC, high-CBD medical marijuana, but only for patients with epilepsy. New York legalizes medical marijuana.

2015: Alaska and Oregon recreational cannabis sales begin. CBD oil is legalized in Texas, North Carolina, and Georgia for patients with epilepsy. Louisiana legalizes medical marijuana.

2016: Pennsylvania and Ohio both legalize medical marijuana. California, Maine, Nevada, and Massachusetts all legalize recreational cannabis. Colorado brings in over $1 billion in marijuana sales.

2017: CBD is added to Schedule I Substances. Non-smokable medical marijuana is legalized in West Virginia. Main sells recreational weed. Indiana approves medical marijuana for people with epilepsy. Recreational sales begin in Nevada.

2018: Recreational sales of cannabis start in California…..with the rest of the year promising some marijuana history in the making. Stay tuned.