Cannabis legalization in the US began in 1973 when Oregon became the first state to decriminalize cannabis, then in 1996 California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis use, and in 2012 Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational cannabis use.

November 8 2016. Five states — Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — considered legalizing the recreational use of cannabis. Three others — Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota — decided whether to permit cannabis for medical purposes. Montana weighed whether to ease restrictions on an existing medical cannabis law.

California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada legalized cannabis for recreational use after November 8, 2016 voting. Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota and Montana voters have approved cannabis for medical use.

Results 2016:

Arizona (rejected), California (approved), Maine (approved), Massachusetts (approved), Nevada (approved), Florida (approved), Arkansas (approved), North Dakota (approved), Montana (approved).

Recently, Louisiana lawmakers amended the state’s existing medical marijuana law, permitting doctors to recommend rather than prescribe medical marijuana, which runs counter to federal law. The law also expanded the list of eligible conditions for cannabis treatment.

On 19 April 2017 the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act, S.B. 386, was signed by Gov. Jim Justice. Beginning no sooner than July 2019, qualifying patients whose doctors have issued them a written certification for medical cannabis will be allowed to register with the health department to use medical cannabis and to buy it from regulated dispensaries.

On January 22, 2018, Vermont became the first state to legalize recreational cannabis use through its legislature.

Oklahoma voters approved on June 26, 2018 a ballot measure making the state the 30th in the U.S. to legalize medical cannabis.

November 6, 2018.

Results 2018:

Michigan (approved), Missouri (approved), North Dakota (rejected), Utah (approved).

On November 6, 2018, Utah and Missouri voters voted to legalize medical cannabis while Michigan voters approved an adult-use cannabis initiative.

In May 2019, Illinois legalized adult-use cannabis cultivation and sales through its legislature to become the 11th cannabis recreational state.

November 3, 2020

South Dakota became the first state whose voters approved both recreational and medical cannabis in the same election. New Jersey, Montana and Arizona all legalized recreational cannabis while medical cannabis was made legal in Mississippi.

November 8, 2022

Maryland and Missouri legalized cannabis for recreational use after November 8, 2022 voting.

Thirty eight states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands currently have laws legalizing cannabis in some form and 21 states – Alaska (2015), Arizona (2020), California (2016), Colorado (2012), Connecticut (2021), Illinois (2020), Maine (2017), Maryland (2023), Massachusetts (2016), Michigan (2018), Missouri (2022), Montana (2021), Nevada (2017), New Jersey (2021), New Mexico (2021), New York (2021), Oregon (2015), Rhode Island (2022), Vermont (2018), Virginia (2021) and Washington (2012) – the District of Columbia (2015), Guam (2019), and the Northern Mariana Islands (2018) allow cannabis for recreational use.

Cannabis Legalization in the US Map Infographics

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