California has a long history as the Golden State and as the “Green State” because its marijuana history spans over a century, all the way back to the Poison Act of 1907. The Poison and Pharmacy Act of 1907 banned the sale of opium, cocaine, and morphine without a prescription. In 1913, an addendum was added to include cannabis on the list of banned drugs, making California the first state to prohibit marijuana. These views soon changed, as California became the first state to attempt to independently legalize marijuana in 1972 with Proposition 19.
Proposition 19 sought to decriminalize marijuana possession and sale for those over the legal age, but in an issue of The Times, it asked its readers, “Does the state really want to run the risk of greatly increasing the smoking of marijuana? That, we fear, is what Proposition 19 would do.” The law failed to pass with 66.5% voting against it, though some legislative districts passed the Proposition. Then, by 1975 90% of marijuana arrests were for simple possession, costing the state $100 million annually. San Francisco’s mayor at the time, George Moscone introduced Senate Bill 95 to downgrade possession from a possible felony to a misdemeanor in an attempt to lower arrests and the costs of arrests. By the end of the 1900s, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana with Proposition 215.