Marijuana Ballot Initiatives

Reversing Authoritarian Marijuana Laws: By Bill or by Ballot


The Controlled Substance Act, passed in 1970 and signed by President Nixon as a part of a "comprehensive" plan on drug abuse prevention, made marijuana an illegal substance in the United States, the culmination of decades of increased regulation and prohibition of marijuana and other narcotics around the country. Some states followed up federal efforts with draconian laws of their own, like New York, whose governor, Nelson Rockefeller, gave his name to some of the harshest anti-drug laws in the country. By 1978, New York and nine other states had set up some kind of decriminalization of marijuana—in Alaska via a state supreme court decision that found Alaskans had a right to privacy that protected using marijuana in the home but in other states via legislation.

But then nothing happened until a few states passed medical marijuana laws beginning in the late 1990s. Over the last decade, buoyed by a steady and significant shift in public opinion toward marijuana, several states have moved toward more decriminalization and, where pushed hardest by voters, to legalization. In 2012, voters in Washington and Colorado approved initiatives to legalize marijuana in the state. Tomorrow, voters in Oregon, Alaska and D.C. do, while voters in Florida and Guam vote on medical marijuana.

Check out the graphic below:

Map of marijuana laws in the United States
reason graphic

For larger still images, check out:

1970-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-2009 | 2010-2014 


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  1. Whew. First time I read the headline, I thought it was “By Bill or By Bullet”.

    I thought it was a little early for that.

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  3. Jason, something is wrong with my Info graphic. When I load your page I see that libertarian marijuana laws are being put in place where socialist fascist Democrats run the government and not where liberty loving Tea Partiers are in power. I almost spit up when your graphic showed that you can get high in Seattle, but can expect to get thrown in prison for doing the same thing in Boise. Cough, cough… That ‘s some funny shit. Can you fix please? Thanks,

  4. The Controlled Substance Act, passed in 1970 and signed by President Nixon as a part of a “comprehensive” plan on drug abuse prevention, made marijuana an illegal substance in the United States,

    So where in the United States was it “legal” between 1937-1970?

    The CSA merely replaced the Marihuana Tax Act, passed in 1937 and signed by President Roosevelt as part of a comprehensive plan on the persecution of Jazz Musicians, Mexican Laborers and other threats to the Purity of Caucasian Womanhood.

    1. The perfidy of the radical Left can only be truly understood by the support they showed for the implementation of these laws by fellow traveller j. Edgar Hoover.

    2. The plan also was a “full employment for redundent prohibition agents” measure.

  5. It would be really nice if you could advance the map by clicks instead of automatically. Do we have technology advanced enough to accomplish that?

  6. I think the graphic blurs as much information as it reveals. New York is listed as “medical marijuana and some decrim”. Yeah, we have decriminalization for small amounts – but it still means the cops write you a ticket instead of arresting you; it’s not like they just leave you alone.

    And our medical marijuana program is such a joke it shouldn’t even count. Yes, your doctor may prescribe you MM, but:
    -that doctor has to have registered with the health department and taken a course on MM
    -you have one of a small list of qualifying conditions
    -you register with the MM program
    -your registration expires after one year
    -you may possess no more than a 30-day supply at one time
    -the law permits a maximum of five dispensaries in the whole state
    -and the law sunsets after seven years.

    Like I said, this is a joke. It’s intentionally designed to be so restrictive it’s of almost no use.
    -you may not smoke MM, nor consume it in a public place

  7. So MM is going down in typically backwards Florida. It had been commanding a supermajority of voters for the longest time, but after a huge influx of anti-MM money, ads flooded the airwaves claiming that children would be buying it from stores and featuring scenes that would have fit comfortably in Reefer Madness.

    A big thanks to Republican casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, who donated millions to help put down the proposed Amendment. I guess the liquor served in his casinos is much less harmful.

    Walking out of the polls, I saw two elderly people carrying oxygen tanks. These are the relics — probably medicated up the ass on all sorts of pills just to maintain some kind of half-life — these are the ones deciding what other people can consume. Yay democracy.

    In Nanny We Trust.

  8. Hello there! remember guys that smoking drugs like marijuana, cannabis, etc… it produces always harmful effects like dizziness , deconcentration, drowsiness, loss of the coordination in the brain, numbs, loss of sport performance, loss of school performance, loss of memory, loss of understanding, etc… We have to sow fruits and vegetables and pretty flowers in our land, but no drugs to smoke, we have to say and teach to saying NO TO DRUGS!!! You can even die!! It’s not correct make money or jobs producing, distributing and selling drugs to smoke because are bad for human health, in spite of that we have to produce, distribute and sell fruits, vegetables and beautiful flowers, Earth’s land have to be for that. For a clean planet without drugs!!! Thank you guys!.

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