For decades, “free” people have been tirelessly fighting for the complete legalization of cannabis around the world.
Cannabis legalization history fluctuates from an essential & valuable crop all the way to the 1930s leaders comparing cannabis to heroin. After cannabis was first approved for medicinal use in California, more states & countries followed leading to a rapid increase in global legalization.
Below, we’ll take a look at the passionate history of fighting for cannabis legalization.
First Attempt To Legalize Cannabis
The very first attempts to legalize cannabis started taking place in 1970 with the attempt to revoke most of the criminal consequences for cannabis crimes.
With this first attempt of removing criminal consequences, those fighting for this objective managed to secure this outcome and started decriminalizing cannabis.
As the process began unfolding, the Shafer Commission, aka the National Commission On Marihuana & Drug Abuse was appointed by Nixon.
Not long after the commission, they issued a report in 1972 finding a favourable recommendation for ending cannabis prohibition and treating it similar to alcohol.
The report found cannabis was not causing a danger to the public at a widespread level and recommended social measures be taken instead of jumping straight to criminalization.
Over the course of the 1970s, eleven states revised their criminal sentences.
Arizona approved a medical cannabis ballot measure but wasn’t ratified.
Texas amended its law in 1973 to allow people to have up to 4 oz of cannabis, while still considering it to be a misdemeanour.
In 1975, Alaska, Colorado, Ohio, Maine, and California decriminalized cannabis.
Then in 1978, the Supreme Court of Alaska established the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Act. Alaska became the first state to amend legislation to recognize the medical properties of cannabis.
Not long after, in 1990, Alaska’s voters re-criminalized cannabis and restored criminal consequences for possessing cannabis.
Finally, we have the courageous voters of California being the first U.S. state where medical cannabis was legalized with Proposition 215 approval in 1996.
Then we come full circle again to Alaska, in 1998, passing legislation to further decrease penalties for medical cannabis and then in 2015 flipped all the way to full recreational legalization.
First To Sue The Federal Government
Raich and Monson, both sued the government on October 9, 2002, arguing that the federal government was preventing them from their right to medical cannabis.
Angel Raich and Diane Monson used legal pot cultivated in California, which was illegal under federal law.
The U.S. Supreme Court held in 2005 that federal anti-drug laws do not qualify for a medical cannabis exemption.
The court dismissed the common-law medical need defence to crimes under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), as there are "no generally recognized medical properties" for the plant.
Cannabis dispensaries in California have been approved by the Compassionate Use Act.
A number of states (currently) that permitted medical cannabis to be used, formerly 14 (now 36).
The problem was settled under the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution, which holds that Congress may ban the production and use of homegrown cannabis even if it is permitted by state law.
The decision was made based on the due process clause, the fifth amendment, the tenth amendment, and medical necessity.
The ruling was upheld by the United States Supreme Court of Appeals, which ruled that caregivers had the legal right to appeal.
The decision was successfully appealed in 2007 and overruled The United States District Court of California ruled in favor of the farmers.
California Cannabis Law History
From the 19th century onwards, Congress and the state of California declared cannabis illegal for the first time in 1915.
Efforts for the legalization of medicinal cannabis originated in San Francisco in the early 1990s and soon reached the whole state and the entire country.
Californians approved Proposition 215 with a 56% vote to legalize the consumption, possession, and planting of cannabis in July 1996.
Only patients with a physician’s prescription could use cannabis for medical activities, as well as patient caregivers being allowed to cultivate cannabis.
California Legalization Date
Cannabis in California has been legal for medical use since 1996, and for recreational use since late 2016.
California was the first state to legalize medical cannabis with the passage of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.
In November 2016, California voters approved the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Proposition 64) to legalize the recreational use of cannabis.
When Did The First Medical Dispensary Open In Colorado?
The first medical cannabis clinic called ‘Colorado The Firm’ was founded in 2004 by Thomas and Larissa.
The club shut down in 2008 but set a considerable milestone for future cannabis legalization.
November 6, 2012, was the date that recreational cannabis was first legalized in Colorado.
The Colorado Compassionate Apartment was built to encourage the legal use of medical cannabis in the medical cannabis industry.
The firm became the "proving grounds" and showed the state that it was possible to have a medical cannabis center.
They joined up with community leaders to teach others the safe use of medical cannabis application strategies.
It was the first dispensary that got back their confiscated cannabis without having to rely on the taxpayers’ money.
Medical cannabis was provided on a weekly basis until the move to a more permanent location on Colfax Avenue was made.
In addition, the company was the first to hold public hearings to better understand the role of being a patient or caregiver, with regard to cannabis.
They supported identifying doctors who were willing to sign referrals for cannabis treatment.
Cannabis Legalization History Around The World
In 1378, the Emir of Joneima of Arabia issued a ban on cannabis use.
Beginning in 1877, the Ottoman government in Constantinople decreed that all of Egypt's hash must be destroyed.
Also, the entire cultivation, selling, and use of the drug were outlawed in Mexico in 1920.
For instance, in 1924, Sudan outlawed the use and cultivation of cannabis.
The League of Nations added cannabis to its list of banned substances in 1925.
To put it plainly, the United States has banned the selling and consumption of cannabis, as well as recreational usage, in all U.S. states and territories as well in 1915.
Comoros' Ali Soilih took charge of the country in 1975 and made it legal to use cannabis.
In July of 1996, California became the first state to legalize medicinal cannabis.
Cannabis is classified as a Class C drug by the U.N.N. drug treaty.
With the statutory threshold for cannabis lowered from 20 to 6 grams, Russia decreased the number of crimes involving it significantly.
In 2012, the UK decriminalized the possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis.
The French decriminalized up to 2 ounces of cannabis in 2012; meanwhile, the Romanian government legalized 2 grams of the recreational use of medical cannabis in 2013.
The U.S. approved cannabis to be used for medicinal purposes for the first time in 2012, in some states.
Cannabis was legalized in Zimbabwe in 2018 for medicinal and scientific purposes.
The United Kingdom decriminalized medical cannabis in 2018.
The Czech Republic became the tenth country to legalize medical cannabis for medical purposes in 2015.
In 2016, North Macedonia introduced a law that made medicinal cannabis federally legal.
About the author: Joe Powers
After an incident in the military, in 2011, Joe Powers began investigating cannabis by talking with industry leaders. In 2016, Joe launched Hemp Writer with its first publication in clarifying disinformation on specific updates to certain federal CBD laws.
Upon calling out a leading cannabis law firm spreading dis-info, Hemp Writer established itself as an authority in clarifying updated information emerging from the cannabis industry. Joe continues charging forwards with increasing momentum to continue fulfilling his vision of SHARING ACCURATE CANNABIS INFORMATION.