Last Friday Mendocino County announced it was fighting federal grand jury subpoenas demanding that four county officials hand over all documents related to its now-abandoned medical marijuana permitting program. The legal action came even after the county had effectively gutted the program in response to a threat of litigation from the U.S. Attorney’s office for Northern California. County officials have speculated that the federal government is planning on going after the more than $1 million the county earned from the program.

Along with the lawsuit filed by the city of Oakland in the threatened federal seizure of the property that the Harborside marijuana dispensary leases, Mendocino County’s action may represent a new fight against a federal crackdown that has closed hundreds of medical marijuana facilities in the state.

The legal battles are just the latest chapter in California and the nation’s ever-evolving relationship to the drug. Below is “A History of Marijuana in California and America.” This illustrated timeline runs from 1911, when Massachussetts became the first state to outlaw marijuana, to just this month, when President Obama said the recent legalization of recreational pot in two states would not be a federal law enforcement priority.

Timeline: A History of Marijuana in California and the U.S. 27 December,2012Jon Brooks

  • jontomas

    Why is there no “more” info button for the entry, “Federal Government Bans Recreational Marijuana?” Isn’t that the most important of all?

    Marijuana prohibition was a monstrous fraud from its beginning in 1937. It was perpetrated by soon-to-be-out-of-work alcohol prohibition bureaucrat, Harry Anslinger. He desperately needed a new empire, and succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

    The best account of this wretched chapter of our history is told by Professor Charles Whitebread, in his speech to the California Judges Association:

  • This timeline leaves out one key date in California’s history: the move by the Board of Pharmacy to outlaw marijuana in California in 1913. (See A conference marking the 100th anniversary of marijuana prohibition in CA will be held on January 26 & 27 in San Francisco, see

    • jontomas

      Good point. See you at the conference!

  • Time for Congress to change the law.

    If Feinstein and others can
    go after the much larger NRA, and the many proponents of Fourth
    Amendment Rights. They can fight a much less difficult battle and save
    money by removing marijuana from the list of illegal drugs. Ending the
    war on marijuana enjoys a wide range of bipartisan and popular support.

    So, Boxer and Pelosi, get to it. Support your constituents. Cut the money out of the war on marijuana, not the safety net.

  • gaaak

    Let’s not forget the ASA vs DEA lawsuit (Oct ’12). The judges still chewing on that one (if they haven’t rat-holed it all together).

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor