Marijuana legislation varies from state to state. Before the November 2010 election, medical marijuana was legal in 14 states and Washington, DC. But with the passing of Proposition 203 – the legalization of medical marijuana in Arizona – this November, there are now 15 states that allow the drug. Medical marijuana is not technically legal in Maryland, but because of the state’s Medical Marijuana Affirmative Defense Law – allowing those arrested for marijuana possession to be released if they can prove their pot was for medical use – most consider the state to be among those with legalized medical marijuana. This would bring the number of states allowing medical marijuana to 16.
In November, 2010, residents in seven US states voted on contests – ranging from the Connecticut governor’s race to the legalization of marijuana in South Dakota – with outcomes that would affect the future of marijuana, medical or otherwise. Overall, nine electoral battles had the potential to affect the fate of marijuana: in five cases voters chose to expand the legalization of marijuana, and in four they did not.
Residents in Alameda County voted on two marijuana-related state contests – the Attorney General’s race, and Prop 19 – the most of any state in the country. California’s Proposition 19 would have legalized recreational marijuana use for people 21 and older. The proposition failed, garnering only 46.1 percent of the vote. However, Kamala Harris’s victory in the race for California’s Attorney General seat has been considered a victory for marijuana activists. Even though Harris opposed Prop 19 and contributed to the official ballot argument against the proposition, her opponent, Steve Cooley, was considered an even tougher opponent of pot legalization. Cooley is opposed to medical marijuana and in 2009 said he would continue to prosecute the currently legal California medical marijuana dispensaries.
The states where medical marijuana is currently legal are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, DC, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland*, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington.
In the map above, click on the different states to learn the outcomes of marijuana-related initiatives on the 2010 ballot. You can also see a county-by-county California map here. Or, visit Oakland North’s marijuana topic page for our complete coverage of Proposition 19 and other marijuana-related issues.
* Medical marijuana is not technically legal in Maryland, but those arrested for marijuana possession can be released if they can prove their pot was for medical use; many consider this a form of legalization.