Legal Medical Marijuana States as of 2010

Marijuana Laws

14 States in the US have approved and regulated medical marijuana use, these states include – Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.  The federal government continues to enforce its prohibition in these states. There are also 3 states, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Maryland, whose drug laws are favorable towards the medicinal use of marijuana, in the latter case making it a decriminalized offense with a maximum penalty of a $100 fine, but which still explicitly bans it. Most recently, in the 2008 election, Michigan passed a referendum permitting the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. If you add the 5 States with pending legislation, and include the state of Virginia which passed the very first state medical marijuana law , there are 22 marijuana friendly states in America.

Official Medical Marijuana laws and policy by state:

Alaska Marijuana Law: The medical use of cannabis was endorsed by 58% of voters in Alaska in November 1998 and the law became effective on March 4, 1999. The law legalizes the possession, cultivation and use of cannabis for patients who have received a certificate from a doctor confirming they can benefit from the medical use of cannabis. The conditions and symptoms eligible are: cachexia, cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy and other conditions characterized by spasms, chronic glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, multiple sclerosis and nausea. The state maintains a confidential list of patients who are assigned an identity card.

California Marijuana Law: In 1996 California voted Proposition 215, also called the Compassionate Use Act, into law. CA Senate Bill 420 was passed in 2003 to clarify Proposition 215 by specifying statewide minimum limits on possession of marijuana and enact a Statewide Medical Marijuana ID Card Program (the G214 card). As of January 16, 2008, only 36 of 58 counties are issuing cards in the program, with 18,847 cards having been issued,however, participation in the ID Card program is optional and the identification card is not required to claim the Act’s protections.

On November 5, 1996 56% of voters approved Proposition 215. The law removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess a “written or oral recommendation” from their physician that he or she “would benefit from medical marijuana.” Patients diagnosed with any illness where the medical use of marijuana has been “deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician” are provided with legal protection under this act. Conditions typically covered by the law include: arthritis; cachexia; cancer; chronic pain; HIV or AIDS; epilepsy; migraine; and multiple sclerosis, with other less debilitating conditions like insomnia, reduced appetite, anxiety, and PTSD often treated also. No regulations regarding the amount of marijuana patients may possess and/or cultivate were provided by this act, though the California Legislature adopted guidelines in 2003.

“Across California there are an estimated 2,100 dispensaries, co-operatives, wellness clinics and taxi delivery services in the sector known as “cannabusiness”. That is more than all the Starbucks, McDonald’s and 7-Eleven outlets in the state put together.”

In 2009, California Assembly Bill 390 was introduced. If passed, it would legalize the sale of marijuana to those twenty-one and older.

Colorado Marijuana Law: Medical marijuana clinic, Denver, Colorado.On November 7, 2000, 54% of Colorado voters passed Amendment 20, which amends the Colorado State constitution to allow the medical use of marijuana.[13] Patients can possess not more than 2 oz. (almost 57 g) of “usable marijuana” and not more than 6 marijuana plants, and they may neither take their medicine in public, nor even on their own property, if the public can see them taking it.

In November 2009, in Breckenridge, Colorado, 70 percent of voters elected to amend the town code to remove all criminal and civil penalties, including fines, on the private possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. More than 70 percent of local voters had voted yes on a similar, but unsuccessful, statewide measure in 2005.

Hawaii Marijuana Law: In Hawaii, Senate Bill 862 became law on June 14, 2000. Patients can possess a maximum of 3 ounces(84g) of usable marijuana and a maximum of 7 marijuana plants.

Illinois Marijuana Law: A bill legalizing medical marijuana passed in the state Senate on May 27, 2009 by a 30-28 vote. The bill has cleared a state House committee and may come up for a vote in that chamber before the end of the year. Illinois has the sixth-highest arrest rate for marijuana possession in the country.

Maine Marijuana Law: On November 2, 1999, 62% of voters in the State of Maine passed Question 2. Patients or their primary physicians could possess a maximum of 1 1/4 ounces (35 g) of usable marijuana and a maximum of 6 plants. The law was amended when Maine Senate Bill 611 was signed into law on April 2, 2002, increasing the maximum quantity of usable marijuana a patient is allowed to possess to 2 1/2 ounces. More detailed information about medical marijuana in Maine is available at

In November 2009 Maine voters approved Question 5, the Maine Marijuana Medical Act. The measure amends existing state law by: establishing a confidential patient registry, expanding the list of qualifying conditions for which a physician may recommend medicinal cannabis, and by allowing for the creation of non-profit state-licensed dispensaries to assist in the distribution of medical cannabis to qualified patients.

Maryland Marijuana Law: The legislature of Maryland passed a “medical marijuana affirmative defense law” in the year 2003. If someone is being prosecuted by the state for certain marijuana related crimes, then the court is required by law to consider a defendant’s “medical necessity.” If medical necessity is proven after arrest and in court, then it is state law that the defendant can only be presented with a $100 fine at the state level.

Michigan Marijuana Law: On November 4, 2008, Michigan voters passed a measure allowing the use of medicinal marijuana for patients with debilitating medical conditions (including cancer, multiple sclerosis and HIV). The measure also required Michigan’s health department to create a registry of qualified patients. Growing marijuana was also approved, for registered individuals using secure facilities. The mandate also included a defense clause that any person, with or without a licensed medical marijuana card, can use its medicinal uses in a court of law as a defense for a case.

Montana Marijuana Law: On November 2, 2004, voters of the U.S. northwestern state of Montana passed Initiative 148, which took effect immediately.It eliminates criminal sanctions at the state level for medical marijuana authorized by a patient’s physician.[13] Possession of as many as six marijuana plants is allowed.

Nevada Marijuana Law: On November 7, 2000 voters in the U.S. western state of Nevada passed Question 9, amending the state constitution to allow for medical marijuana.The state law provides that medical marijuana patients may possess a maximum of 1 ounce (28 g) of usable marijuana and grow a maximum of 7 marijuana plants.

New Jersey Marijuana Law: On January 11, 2010, the New Jersey legislature approved a measure legalizing medical marijuana for patients with severe chronic illnesses, the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. Governor Corzine signed the bill into law on January 18.

New Mexico Marijuana Law: On April 2, 2007 the governor of the southwestern U.S. state of New Mexico approved Senate Bill 523, which legalizes medical marijuana for patients authorized by the state.

Oregon Marijuana Law: Cannabis and medical cannabis is ubiquitous in the state of Oregon. The Oregon medical cannabis program has the name, “The Oregon Medical Marijuana Program,” which administers the Medical Marijuana Act approved there by the public in November 1998.  The Oregon Medical Marijuana Program administers the program within the Oregon Department of Human Services. As of April 1, 2008, there were 16,635 patients registered. Virtually all patients benefiting from the program suffer from severe pain and almost 2500 from nausea. The other conditions are given as epilepsy, AIDS / HIV, cancer, cachexia, chronic glaucoma and tremors caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

Rhode Island Marijuana Law: On January 3, 2006, in the eastern U.S. state of Rhode Island, The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act (Rhode Island) became law and simultaneously went into effect. It legalizes medical marijuana at the state level, provided that certain conditions are met. Patients can possess a maximum of 2.5 ounces of marijuana and a maximum of 12 marijuana plants.

On June 16, 2009, the Rhode Island state legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto of a bill authorizing up to three medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. The House voted 68-0 for the pot measure and the senate moved it minutes later by a 35-3 count. The new law will make Rhode Island the third state, following New Mexico and California, to allow the sale of medical marijuana. Under the new law, one dispensary will be authorized to open in 2010, to be followed by two more in 2011.

Vermont Marijuana Law: In the state of Vermont, Senate Bill 76 went into effect July 1, 2004, legalizing medical marijuana at the state level, provided certain conditions are met. Patients or their primary doctor are allowed to possess a maximum of 2 ounces of usable marijuana and a maximum of 3 marijuana plants, a maximum of which one can be mature.

Amendments to Vermont Medical Marijuana Laws: Vermont Senate Bill 7 went into effect July 1, 2007 further defining which patients qualify for medical marijuana and how much they may possess without penalty of law at the state level. The amendment allows physicians licensed outside of Vermont to recommend medical marijuana for Vermont patients.

Virginia Marijuana Law: The Commonwealth of Virginia was the very first state to pass a medical marijuana law, in July 1979. It exempts physicians and pharmacists from state prosecution for prescribing marijuana or THC for cancer or glaucoma. This law, while still on the books today, never had any practical effect in Virginia whatsoever, and ironically is not widely known, never having been publicised. Lists of states with legal medical marijuana generally do not include Virginia.

Washington Marijuana Law: The State of Washington adopted a law via elections in November 1998 (Initiative 692), legalizing the use, possession and cultivation of cannabis for patients with a medical certificate. The following conditions are eligible: cachexia, cancer, HIV or AIDS, epilepsy, glaucoma, chronic pain otherwise intractable, and multiple sclerosis. According to the law in Washington, a patient prescribed medical marijuana may only keep a 60 day supply of it.

States and districts with pending Marijuana legislation

Arizona Marijuana Law: Arizona’s proposition 203, also called “Arizona Medical Marijuana Act”, is a measure to legalize the use of medical marijuana. The initiative will appear on the general election ballot and it got on through a citizen petition. The initiative would allow patients with a “debilitating medical condition” to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks with a doctor’s recommendation.

Arkansas Marijuana Law: Arkansas’ proposed constitutional amendment to allow medical marijuana is waiting on approval from the Arkansas Attorney General’s office, Dustin McDaniel.

Washington DC Marijuana Law: The House and the Senate lifted a ban on a D.C. medical marijuana initiative originally approved by voters in 1998 and is currently awaiting signing into passage from President Barack Obama.

South Dakota Marijuana Law: The South Dakota Coalition for Compassion has launched its petition drive to place the South Dakota Safe Access Act on the ballot in November 2010. This initiative, which was primarily drafted by MPP, plans to ensure that South Dakota patients battling cancer, AIDS, and other life-threatening diseases no longer face prison for trying to relieve their symptoms.

Ohio Marijuana Law: House Bill 478, introduced by Rep. Kenny Yuko on April 7, 2010, seeks to establish a medical marijuana system in Ohio. The bill is now before the Health Committee, and will be up for vote sometime in 2010.

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