While cannabis legalization is often cited as one of the fastest moving policy changes in American politics, one state has been taking the slow and steady approach for nearly two decades.
Vermont notched its most recent victory in January, becoming the first state to legalize cannabis for adult use through the legislature. Eight other states and Washington, D.C. have only done so through voter referendum.
In 1981, Vermont started its decades-long counterattack on the War on Drugs by establishing its Cannabis Therapeutic Research Program, which studied marijuana’s therapeutic effects on cancer and other severe illnesses. Then, in 2004, Vermont became the second state (following Hawaii in 2000) to legalize medical cannabis through the legislature. Decriminalization followed in 2013, and shortly after, the state commissioned the RAND Corporation to study full legalization in the state.