In case you forgot American Government 101, the U.S. has a federal system in which states can make their own laws. Nowhere is that more evident than with marijuana policy.
Laws differ drastically state-to-state, and certain states are significantly more progressive than others.
Here’s a look at some of the states with more moderate or lenient laws; as a rule they tend to be in the West and Northeast, the places with more marijuana users.
The state-leader in marijuana reform is California. Though Oregon was the first to decriminalize possession of small amounts in 1973, the Golden State followed shortly after, and broke the mold by allowing medical marijuana in 1996.
Possession of less than a ounce merits a $100 fine, and while trafficking is still a felony, the sale of any amount is punishable by two to four years in prison without any fine.
In February 2009, however, State Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced another piece of landmark legislation, AB 390, the first bill of its kind to call for taxation and regulation of marijuana.
Though the bill expired and was replaced with a newer version, AB 2254, Quintin Mecke, Communications Director for Ammiano says, “the momentum regarding legalization and the conversation around overall drug policy really took off last year in ways that I’m not sure that even we expected when we first introduced the bill.”