15 years ago on November 5th 1996, the State of California enacted Proposition 215. Also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. Proposition 215 “provides a limited ‘immunity’ defense to prosecution under state law for cultivation or possession of marijuana”. The law came into being as a ballot initiative, whereby residents of California to voted ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the proposition. The initiative passed with 55.6% of the vote (from a 63% turnout), making Prop. 215 the USA’s first law recognizing the medicinal value of cannabis. The movement that gave rise to Prop. 215 was started by Dennis Peron, a prominent activist who became a figurehead of the medicinal cannabis movement in California.
The success of passing proposition 215 enabled the rest of the west coast States, along with Alaska, to pass the law as well. Since then, 12 more states and the District of Columbia passed the bill as well. The support for legalized marijuana has doubled in the last century. Under Prop. 215, California’s medicinal cannabis industry – and the positive health effects thereof – have expanded year after year. In the last 15 years, medicinal cannabis has continued to receive support from scientists, doctors and their ongoing research. Medicinal cannabis cultivation has become an important part of California’s economy and provides the even more valuable service of allowing people an effective, safe, affordable means of controlling the symptoms and easing the pain of serious illnesses.