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Marijuana is labeled a Schedule I drug by the federal government under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Its production, distribution, possession and use are thus criminally prohibited. The drug's negative treatment from the federal government stems from the Prohibition Era, culminating in the War on Drugs. However, evolving public sentiment against marijuana criminalization and its medical use has led to the drug being fully or partially legalized by state statutes in 21 states and the District of Columbia. Notwithstanding federal statutes, state laws pose a significant challenge to federalism and its treatment of marijuana.

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Timeline

08/29/2013: Department of Justice announced it will not challenge state legalization efforts.

08/12/2013: Department of Justice changed policy regarding mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders.

06/06/2013: Vermont decriminalized marijuana possession.

05/28/2013: Colorado governor signed bill regulating recreational marijuana.

05/17/2013: Illinois Senate approved medical marijuana bill.

04/23/2013: Supreme Court ruled marijuana possession not grounds for automatic deportation.

04/08/2013: Maryland Senate approved medical marijuana bill.

02/08/2013: Michigan Supreme Court ruled private sale of medical marijuana is illegal.

01/22/2013: Federal appeals court declined to change marijuana drug classification.

12/03/2012: Arizona judge cleared way for marijuana dispensaries.

11/06/2012: Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana in state ballot initiatives.

09/11/2012: Montana Supreme Court found no constitutional right to medical marijuana use.

06/24/2011: US lawmakers introducted bipartisan marijuana legalization bill.

10/19/2009: Department of Justice directed prosecutors to end raids on medical marijuana facilities.

07/31/2008: California court ruled that state medical marijuana program does not violate federal law.

06/06/2005: Supreme Court ruled that Congress has the power to criminalize the growth and use of marijuana for personal medical reasons.

 ...[more]

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