“In 1973 Oregon became the first state to modify its law and decriminalize marijuana use, which meant possession became a civil offense punishable by a fine. A key reason for this legislative change was pressure exerted by the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML), a private citizens group founded in 1971 that believed drug laws were unfair to recreational users. The American Medical Association (AMA) ad the American Bar Association (ABA) also supported marijuana law reform – the AMA came out in favor of dropping penalties for possession of insignificant amounts of marijuana in 1972, while the ABA recommended decriminalization in 1973.
“Ten other states followed Oregon in decriminalizing marijuana and it appeared the nation was well on its way toward a federal policy of less stringent marijuana regulation. This policy seemed all but guaranteed when Jimmy Carter, a liberal politician, was elected to the White House in 1976.”