All the American presidential candidates, both Democrat and Republican, support at the very least state's rights to do as they please with marijuana policy.


Ohio and Pennsylvania pass medical marijuana legislation.


Jamaica decriminalizes cannabis possession for up to two ounces, while also legalizing personal cultivation of up to five plants and regulations for cultivation and distribution of medical, religious, and natural cannabis.


Oregon, Alaska, and Washington DC pass cannabis legalization.


Maryland, Minnesota, and New York pass medical marijuana legislation.


Eighteen members of US Congress co-sign letter to President Obama, calling on him to delist marijuana from Schedule I or II of the Controlled Substances Act, thus ending mandatory minimum sentencing in marijuana cases.  


US Department of Justice issues guidelines allowing banks and financial institutions to interact with marijuana businesses that are licensed to operate under state law


The Cole Memorandum, published by the Department of Justice, shifts government priorities away from enforcing federal cannabis laws in states that have their own medical or adult use legalization policies.


Uruguay becomes the world's first nation to legalize cannabis cultivation, distribution, and adult use. "We are regulating a market that already exists," said Jose Mujica, Uruguay's president.


Illinois and New Hampshire pass medical marijuana legislation.


Colorado and Washington pass adult use marijuana legislation, becoming the first two states to legalize cannabis cultivation and sale for those 21 and over.


Connecticut and Massachusetts pass medical marijuana legislation.


Federal Agencies raid Oaksterdam, a cannabis “university” in Oakland, CA, at the heart of the marijuana law reform movement, providing students with high quality training for the cannabis industry.


One of California’s most well-established dispensaries, Oakland’s Harborside Health Center gets raided by the Federal Agencies.


The DEA places five synthetic cannabinoids, such as “Spice,” in the Schedule I category of the Controlled Substances Act, given that they are an “imminent hazard to public safety”


Delaware passes medical marijuana legislation.


California Supreme Court affirms the 2nd District Court of Appeals’ decision in 2008 that possession limits are unconstitutional


Arizona, Washington DC, and New Jersey pass medical marijuana legislation.


US Attorney General Eric Holder issues a statement that the DEA would end its raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in compliance with state laws. Holder announces the Ogden Memo that the Department of Justice would not prioritize the prosecution of state-compliant medical marijuana patients.


The American Medical Association recommends that marijuana's status as a Schedule I drug be re-evaluated.


Michigan approves Proposal 1, allowing for the use, possession, and cultivation of medical marijuana for patients.


In People v. Patrick Kelly, the Second District of California Court of Appeals rules that the state limits on medical marijuana possession and cultivation, as delineated in SB 420, are unconstitutional. The court hence overturned the defendant’s conviction for possessing 12 ounces of dried marijuana plants (4 ounces over the established limit in the Health & Safety Code Sec. 11362.77)


New Mexico’s Senate Bill 523, otherwise known as The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, allows for the use, possession and cultivation of medical marijuana for patients.


Rhode Island passes Senate Bill 0710, allowing for the use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana by patients with ‘written certification” from their physician.


In Gonzalez v. Raich, the US Supreme Court rules that Congress is allowed to ban local marijuana use.


Montana and Vermont pass medical marijuana legislation.


Maryland passes medical marijuana affirmative defense, requiring courts to consider defendants’ use of medical marijuana in marijuana-related prosecution cases


DEA agents raid the medical marijuana garden belonging to the Wo/Men's Alliance for medical Marijuana (WAMM), a California-based collective serving seriously ill patients and those who couldn't otherwise afford medicine. In response, WAMM gathers on the steps of Santa Cruz city hall to distribute cannabis medicine to terminally ill members of the collective, and goes on to successfully sue the federal government.


In Conant v. Walters, the court rules that the government cannot revoke physicians’ licenses for recommending medical marijuana.


After the US government sued the Oakland Cannabis Buyer’s Cooperative in order to cease their operations, the Supreme Court ruled that “there is no medical necessity exception to the Controlled Substances Act’s prohibitions on manufacturing and distributing marijuana."


Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada pass medical marijuana legislation.


Maine passes ballot initiative Question 2, which allows patients to use, possess, and cultivate medical marijuana.


Marinol is moved from Schedule II to Schedule III in order to increase availability to patients.


Alaska, Oregon, and Washington pass legislation allowing for medical marijuana.


California voters pass Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which allows patients with a doctor's recommendation to use medical marijuana. California becomes the first state to enact such a law, but patients, caregivers, and growers nonetheless face threats from federal law enforcement.  


After the failure of their 1972 petition to reschedule marijuana, Jon Gettman, the director of NORML, files another petition to reschedule marijuana down from Schedule I.


American Medical Student Association endorses the rescheduling marijuana to Schedule II, as suggested earlier by Judge Young.


Israeli scientist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, who had discovered THC 28 years earlier, along with Dr. William Devane and Dr. Lumir Lanus, identified the first endocannabinoid (endogenous cannabinoid) in the brain, which they named "anandamide," after the Sanskrit word "ananda" for bliss.


San Francisco passes the first medical marijuana initiative as Proposition P, which requested the state of California and the California Medical Association to “restore hemp medical preparations to the list of available medicines in California” and to not incriminate physicians for recommending hemp for medicinal purposes


The Bush administration suspends the IND (Investigational New Drug) Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Program, which provided free marijuana to seriously ill patients, and which in reality only treated six patients.


Francis Young, administrative law judge with the DEA, recommends that marijuana be placed in Schedule II in response to NORML's 1972 petition. "Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man," says Young. But the Reagan administration block the ruling. In 1989, DEA administrator Jack Lawn overrules Young's decision so that cannabis remains a Schedule I substance.


President Ronald Reagan signs the Anti Drug Abuse Act of 1986 aiming for a "drug-free" America, which included mandatory minimum sentences for drug cases, including marijuana, delegating money to drug abuse prevention and treatment, and which allocated $1.7 million to fight the drug war.


Marinol is approved as a Schedule II drug for nausea and vomiting as symptoms of cancer chemotherapy. It was later approved in 1992 to treat anorexia due to weight loss in AIDS patients.  


The Comprehensive Crime Control Act broadens criminal and civil asset forfeiture laws, while also increasing Federal criminal sanctions for drug offenses.


New Mexico passes the first state law to recognize the medicinal values of marijuana.


The Netherlands decriminalize marijuana.


Glaucoma patient Robert Randall obtains Federally legal permission to use medical marijuana after suing the FDA, the DEA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Department of Justice (DoJ), and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.


Alaska's Ravin v. State ruling protects possession of up to four ounces of marijuana for in-home personal use.


The Journal of the National Cancer Institute publishes an academic paper called "Anticancer Activity of Cannabinoids," showing that chemicals in cannabis inhibit the growth of cancer cells in mice.


Oregon becomes the first state to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis.


President Richard Nixon establishes the Drug Enforcement Administration in order to strengthen the government's position in the Drug War and better enforce drug laws through a single administration that may coordinate efforts with other agencies.


National Commission on Marijuana recommends decriminalization, assessing that "criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use."


President Richard Nixon declares a War on Drugs, claiming drug abuse to be "public enemy number one."


The Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana as Schedule I, with "no accepted medical use."


The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is founded by attorney Keith Stroup.


Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most prominent psychoactive chemical in cannabis, is identified by Israeli chemist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam.


The United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs mandates that all signatories ban cannabis cultivation, distribution, and use.


Congress includes marijuana in the Narcotics Control Act, leading to stricter mandatory minimum sentences, such as two to ten years with a fine of up to $20,000 for a first-offense marijuana possession conviction.


The New york Academy of Medicine issues The La Guardia Report, claiming that, contrary to popular belief, marijuana does not lead to outlandish behavior, violence, insanity, or altered personality.


Medical products containing cannabis are removed from from US Pharmacopoeia so physicians can no longer prescribe it.


Henry Ford constructs a Model-T made from hemp plastic and which uses hemp as fuel.


President Franklin Roosevelt makes emergency executive order to allow for industrial hemp production in the US for military uses.


The US Department of Agriculture's "Hemp for Victory" program distributes hemp seeds to farmers, encouraging them to grow hemp to use for ropes, parachutes, and other crucial military supplies.


Marihuana Tax Stamp Act of 1937, drafted by Anslinger, levies taxes on cannabis that were so high no one could afford to sell it legally. It effectively banned the sale and use of marijuana, which Anslinger had portrayed as a societal menace.


Propaganda film "Reefer Madness" aims to illustrate the dangers of marijuana use and its effects on users' behavior.


William Randolph Hearst, who had financial interests in the lumber and paper industries, publishes detrimental stories about cannabis in an attempt to eliminate competition from the hemp industry. Following suit with Harry Anslinger, first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Hearst began a propaganda campaign against "marijuana," (instead of cannabis) to draw an association with many of the Mexican immigrants who used it.


Queen Victoria uses cannabis to treat her menstrual cramps.


Cannabis is added to the US Pharmacopeia, which lists it as a treatment for various ailments.


Mexican soldiers are reported to be using cannabis cigarettes in the United States and Mexico.


Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist Carl Linnaeus includes the species Cannabis sativa in his book Species PLantarum.  


George Washington, among other founding fathers, grows hemp at Mt. Vernon.


The Virginia Assembly, which included the Jamestown Colony, passes a law mandating all farms to grow hemp, which also was used as legal tender.


The use of cannabis spreads throughout the Middle East. Muslim scholars debate whether or not to ban it for religious reasons.


The use of medical cannabis is recorded in Roman medical texts.

BCE 200

Ancient Greeks use cannabis for medical purposes, including for earache, edema, and inflammation

BCE 700

Use of medical cannabis is recorded in the Venidad, an ancient Persian religious text by Zoroaster

BCE 300-100

The use of hemp spreads around Europe to make food and textiles.

BCE 1200

The Atharvaveda, one of the oldest Hindu scriptural texts, references cannabis for spiritual purposes.

BCE 1213

Cannabis pollen appears on the mummy of Ramesses II, as cannabis prescriptions were used in ancient Egypt for glaucoma, inflammation, cooling the uterus, and as enemas.

BCE 1450

The Bible's book of Exodus references cannabis in the recipe for holy anointing oil.

BCE 2727

Chinese Emperor Shennong makes reference to medical marijuana as he prepares one of the world's first pharmacopoeias.

BCE 6000

Archaeological evidence of cannabis used as a source of food.

Marijuana Law Chronology

A Resource Center for the Defense of Federal Marijuana Cases

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