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Legalization of marijuana

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The legalization of marijuana is a movement to de-criminalize the use and cultivation of marijuana.

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It is currently illegal to cultivate, sell or use marijuana-- a drug extracted from the Indian hemp plant Cannabis sativa in the United States by federal law.[1] There is an unresolved question of law regarding states' rights to regulate and legislate the use of marijuana.

A limited exception has been made in about 14 states for whereby it is legal to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. In addition, some states have decriminalized the possession of marijuana. A person found to be in possession of a small quantity of marijuana in one of these states may only face civil misdemeanor charges and a fine.

By contrast, in some of the more conservative states, federal laws and mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines are still enforced which can result in incarceration for a first offense of possession of marijuana in any quantity. Currently, there is an effort in California to get the legalization of marijuana on the November 2010 election ballot [2] which, if successful, would legalize the use of marijuana and tax its sale.

Table of State Marijuana Laws

State marijuana laws






Medical Hemp DUI Drug Tax Stamp


Alaska X X
Arizona X
Arkansas X X


Colorado X X X
Connecticut X X
Dist. of Columbia X X
Delaware X
Florida X
Georgia X X X X
Hawai'i X X
Idaho X
Illinois X X
Indiana X X X
Iowa X X X X
Kansas X X
Kentucky X X
Louisiana X X
Maine X X X
Maryland X X X
Massachusetts X X X X
Michigan X X X
Minnesota X X X X X
Mississippi X
Montana X X X X
Nebraska X X X X
Nevada X X X X
New Hampshire
New Jersey X
New Mexico X
New York X
North Carolina X X X X X
North Dakota X X
Ohio X X X
Oklahoma X X X
Oregon X X X X
Pennsylvania X X X
Rhode Island X X X X
South Carolina X X X
South Dakota X
Tennessee X
Texas X
Utah X X
Vermont X X X
Virginia X X X X
Washington X X
West Virginia X X
Wisconsin X X X
Wyoming X X

(source: The National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML))


  1. http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/21/13/I/A/801
  2. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/12/marijuana-legalization-initiative-headed-for-2010-ballot-organizers-say.html

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