The first state to enact legislation recognizing marijuana's medical value was New Mexico in Feburary 1978. Three other states quickly followed suit that year: Florida, Louisiana, and Illinois. Since then a large number of states have enacted some type of legislation which recognizes marijuana's medical utility. Most of these bills established state programs of research. Very few states actually initiated the research, however, because of restrictive federal policies and expense.
It should be noted that some states have enacted more than one piece of legislation pertaining to marijuana's medical utility. This has caused some confusion about the total number of states with such legislation. The following table details the legislative votes for 34 state laws.
To put this number in perspective, it should be noted that passage of a Constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority, or 33, of the states. Using this comparison it is clear that support for controlled, medical access to marijuana is very strong indeed.
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Legislative Tallies for State Statutes
|State||Bill Number||House Vote||Senate Vote||Signed|
|Alabama||S.B. 559||58-3||22-5||July 1979|
|Arizona||H.B. 2020||54-7||24-6||April 1980|
|Arkansas||Act 8||86-2||28-0||April 1981|
|California||S.B. 184||61-13||30-5||July 1979*|
|Colorado||H.B. 1042||60-0||30-4-1||June 1979|
|Connecticut||H.B. 5090||117-28||27-9||July 1981|
|Florida||H.B. 1237||96-6||Non-record vote||June 1978|
|Georgia||H.B. 1077||158-6||50-0||February 1980|
|Illinois||H.B. 2625||140-16||45-4||September 1978|
|Iowa||H.F. 512||68-23||43-4||June 1979|
|Louisiana||H.B. 1187||84-7||unavailable||July 1991*|
|Maine||H.B. 665||121-17||23-8||August 1979*|
|Massachusetts||S. 1582||unavailable||unavailable||Dec. 1991|
|Michigan||S.B. 185||100-0||29-5||October 1979|
|Minnesota||H.F. 2476||75-57||48-12||April 1980|
|Montana||H.B. 463||87-1||Voice Vote||April 1979|
|Nevada||S.B. 470||38-2||19-1||June 1979|
|New Hampshire||S.B. 21||Voice vote||Voice vote||April 1981|
|New Jersey||A.B. 819||67-0||32-0||March 1981|
|New Mexico||H.B. 329||53-9||33-1||February 1978|
|New York||S.B. 1123-6||145-2||60-0||June 1980|
|North Carolina||H.B. 1065||108-1-11||Voice vote||June 1979|
|Ohio||S.B. 184||87-7||28-2||March 1980|
|Oklahoma||S.R. 7||Voice vote||Voice vote||March 1981|
|Oregon||H.B. 2267||50-10||27-3||June 1979|
|Rhode Island||H.B. 79.6072||100-0||40-10||May 1980|
|South Carolina||S.B 350||Voice vote||Voice vote||February 1980|
|Tennessee||H.B. 314||77-16-2||30-2-1||April 1981|
|Texas||S.B. 877||Non-record vote||20-6||June 1979|
|Vermont||H.B. 130||Voice vote||Voice vote||April 1981|
|Virginia||S.B. 913||50-37||23-15||March 1979|
|Washington||H.B. 259||92-5||43-2||March 1979|
|West Virginia||S.B. 366||52-48||23-10||March 1979|
|Wisconsin||L.B. 697||77-19||32-1||April 1982|
* Several states have enacted legislation at different times which recognize
marijuana's therapeutic utility. This tally sheet displays the date and votes for the
original legislation. Additionally, some states have "sunset" provisions for
state laws. Sunset provisions define a period of time in which the law is valid. After
that period of time the law lapses unless reaffirmed by the legislature. Individuals are
encouraged to clarify the current status of laws in their states.
California originally passed legislation in July 1979 which established a program of
state sponsored research. Additional legislation was passed in 1992. Measures were passed
in 1993 and 1994 which were vetoed by Governor Pete Wilson.
Louisiana originally enacted legislation in May 1978 which called for a program of
legal access for victims of caner and glaucoma. In July 1991 this law was amended to
include victims of paralysis.
The Maine legislature first passed a bill in August of 1979 which called for a program
of state sponsored research. None was ever conducted. In 1992 the Maine assembly enacted a
bill which allowed the cultivation of small amounts of marijuana for medical purposes. The
bill was vetoed by the governor.
Washington state initally passed legisation in March 1979 which called for the
establishment of a state-wide research program. Because of federal roadblocks little was
ever done. In early 1996, S.B. 6744 was passed and signed into law. This bill authorized
the expenditure of $130,000 to investigate the possibility of Washington state cultivating
marijuana for medical studies.
Note: it has been reported that Alaska passed legislation in the early 1980s recognizing marijuana's medical utility. The Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics has been unable to confirm this or obtain further details.
Last Updated on 12/02/99 by Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics