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Marijuana in the US: A state-by-state legislative history

on January 17, 2011

On November 2, 2010,  the citizens of California voted on Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana for people 21 and older.  The proposition failed, garnering only 46.1 percent of the vote.

Marijuana legislation varies from state to state.  Before the November election, medical marijuana was legal in 14 states and DC.  But with the passing of Proposition 203 – the legalization of medical marijuana in Arizona – 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 legal medical marijuana.  This would bring the number of states allowing medical marijuana to 16.

In 2010, 22 state legislatures considered marijuana-related bills.  Only two of those proposed bills tightened regulations on marijuana, proposing to increase penalties for those caught in possession of the drug.

But even though the 2010 election is over, many state legislatures recently convened or will do so soon.  Marijuana legislation will most likely be introduced in many states, with supporters hoping the legislature can accomplish what the voters could not.

Only 11 state governments have never seen marijuana-related legislation.

States where medical marijuana is legal: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, DC, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland*, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington.

* 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.

In the map above, click on the different states to learn which states have considered marijuana-related legislation, and how each legislature voted. 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.

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