It has been predicted that the ideological shift within the United States Congress will bring about a bill to federally legalized marijuana within the next two years. The legalization of marijuana has become a primary policy point for state and federally ranked Democrat officials.
It’s important to look at marijuana laws by state and the capacity for changes based on political ideology of each state’s elected officials.
Medical and Recreational Marijuana
With the constant media attention on marijuana, it’s important to know the different types and uses of marijuana that are being discussed in politics. Politics are discussing the use, sale, and production of recreational and medicinal marijuana.
Marijuana is a plant that is composed of many chemicals called cannabinoids. The chemicals found in this plant can help alleviate many symptoms associated with different diseases or medications. Many doctors have begun prescribing medical marijuana to help with nausea and anxiety.
The shortcoming with prescribing marijuana is that the FDA does not approve or recognize marijuana the medicinal property of the plant as a prescribe-able medication. The two main chemicals in marijuana that are used for medicinal purposes in marijuana or THC and CBD.
THC is Tetrahydrocannabinol this is a psychoactive compound that helps patients produce a high. This helps to curb depressive states and to help with anxiety. The THC chemical is primarily used to help patients deal with nausea, anxiety, low appetite, glaucoma, or pain. Read for more details on THCs such as Delta-8.
The cannabis oil or CBD does not produce any psychoactive effects and is typically in higher concentrations for medical marijuana. The chemical properties of CBD help patients deal with inflammation, nausea, migraines, psychosis, or even seizures.
Because marijuana has been viewed negatively by the medical community it is more recent that medical treatments that lean on the use of CBD and THC have been developed.
Marijuana is the most commonly used drug in the United States. Although it is fully legal in some states others have tea legalized it for medical and recreational use. This drug comes from the hemp plant and is able to produce a psychoactive effect producing a high.
Recreational marijuana refers to weed that is produced or taken without medical reasoning. This means that it does not come with a prescription from a medical professional, many individuals do opt to self-medicate on recreational marijuana if they have severe anxiety.
Individuals who frequently use marijuana may become dependent or addicted to the drug. Users are typically seeking the feeling of relaxation and euphoria that accompanies a high.
Marijuana Legalization Movement
At the start of the 21st-century, many interest groups and policymakers decided to take action towards decriminalization and legalization of marijuana. The political history of marijuana began with laws designed to make accessing, a once widely accessible drug, more difficult.
Decriminalization v. Legalization
Decriminalization efforts referred to policies or reduce penalties for marijuana offenses. Typically this means removing any criminal prosecution or threat of arrest and implementing minor violations or a civil penalty based on the amount found in possession or being produced. Many policymakers in special interest groups lobby for the decriminalization of this drug by citing the positive medical effects of the drug.
The legalization of marijuana is a little bit more complex. They have been movements to legalize medical marijuana, possession of marijuana but not production, and recreational marijuana. Different policymakers and special interest groups whole different positions on how legalized marijuana should be.
Special Interest Groups Seeking Reformation of Marijuana Laws
Special interest groups and nonprofits have invested millions into lobbying for the reformation of state and federal marijuana laws. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and the Marijuana Policy Project has been instrumental in the advancement of marijuana reform.
These groups have developed strong relationships with policymakers and advocated for the normalization of marijuana use for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Many of these organizations have state chapters to lobby legislatures on the decriminalization or legalization of marijuana at the state level.
Reasons for Legalization
State and federal policymakers have been persuaded to view legislation supporting the legalization of marijuana favorably. This is a result of the ability of the government to implement regulations to ensure consumer safety, stimulate economic growth, and reallocate law enforcement resources.
Because marijuana is not sold legally it doesn’t have to adhere to standard requirements from product testing. Consumers are more likely to get a product that is laced or dangerous if it’s bought illegally.
The legalization of marijuana would allow government entities to place restrictions and standards to ensure the quality of marijuana.
Stimulate the Economy
The legalization and regulation of marijuana can be one of the nation’s largest economic stimulants.
Not only will the ability to produce cash crops promote the economy, but the ability to tax this product can help to pad the government’s budget. The legalization of marijuana in Colorado has developed into an industry that produces $6 billion annually.
Save on Law Enforcement Resources
Lobbyists and special interest groups often lean on the ability to reduce spending in law-enforcement with the legalization of marijuana.
By legalizing marijuana you were able to re-allocate law-enforcement resources that are used on finding repeat offenders and hefty court fees. Due to the minimal mind-altering effects of marijuana, it has been cited that there are much better uses for law-enforcement resources to be allocated to than intercepting individuals who are using marijuana recreationally.
Marijuana Legalization Milestones
Strides towards decriminalization and legalization of medical marijuana began at the state level in 1996.
California voters passed proposition 215 which legalize the use of medical marijuana throughout the state. In 1996 Arizona also passed a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana however due to the wording this was invalidated by superseding federal law.
There was no success in the legalization efforts of recreational marijuana until 2012. In 2012 Colorado passed amendment 64 and Washington state passed initiative 502 which legalized the use of recreational marijuana. These legal initiatives in amendments did not approve the sale in production but allowed people to use marijuana recreationally.
History of Marijuana for Medicine
Over centuries marijuana has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes. Its medical use dates back to 2737 BC in China. It went on later to be used to treat tumors in ancient Egypt and was used from 1851 to 1941 in the United States as a commonly used medical product.
However, the first national regulation of marijuana was in 1937 with the marijuana tax act. The passage of the marijuana tax act made it difficult for medical professionals to prescribe marijuana.
Marijuana officially became outlawed for any use in 1970 with the passage of the Controlled Substance Act (CSA). Since its restriction was placed special interest groups and politicians have worked to decriminalized and legalized marijuana in several states.
Changing Marijuana Laws By State
The 2020 election shifted policy on the state and federal level. Not only do we have none Preston to the amount of Democrats leading at the federal level but, there was also a major shift to a more liberal ideology amongst state level legislators.
As of 2021, only 15 states remained to Outlaw marijuana both in recreational and medicinal form. It is believed that the liberal policies on the federal side may bring about nationwide change in the coming years.
In 2020 a comprehensive marijuana Reform Bill swept Congress. Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nandler and ,then Senator, Vice President Kamala Harris introduced this bill. This bill, called the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE), sought to establish restrictive properties and reduce prohibition of marijuana at the federal level.
This would be done by removing Federal interference from States’ decisions to legalize marijuana. More would work to retroactively decriminalize marijuana by expunging prior marijuana convictions. MORE would stimulate the federal economy by establishing a federal tax to help aid individuals who have been harmed by marijuana prohibition.
The MORE act was passed with a 24-10 majority within the House Judiciary Committee. Although this bill was not passed by the House floor. This act did set a precedent and stimulate a conversation on the federal level for future legalization. It is likely that if this act were to be reintroduced to the 117th congress it would be viewed more favorably.
The 2020 election cycle brought about many changes across the United States. Those changes were not just reflected in the first female vice president, but also in state-level marijuana policy. The 2020 election cycle brought the legalization of recreational marijuana to four states and the legalization of medical marijuana to two additional States.
We can see that voters have been enthused at the prospects of legalizing marijuana. Two-thirds of Americans believe that marijuana should be made legal across the country, favorable proprpotion for nearly any election. The sole Democrat in the Florida cabinet, Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, supported the decriminalization and approval of medical mariquana on her platform.
In states where the legalization of marijuana was on the ballot there was an increase in voter turnout and 2020. Many states put drugs on the ballot in 2020. There was a unanimous mandate for recreational marijuana on the ballot in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota.
Mississippi and South Dakota also legalized medicinal marijuana as a result of a 2020 question on the ballot. Many states have moved to putting any question of marijuana on the ballot for voters to decide.
In New York City we have seen major protests surrounding the racially biased and unjust enforcement of marijuana. interest groups have worked to develop well-regulated and inclusive campaigns that are rooted in supporting racial and economic justice. New York political activists have been supportive of the the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA).
MRTA would permit the sale and use of marijuna amongst adults over the age of 21. This act also seeks to provide financial resources for hemp and marijuana producers to refine their agricultural and research operations. This is to allow producers to update and improve their operations to produce safer products.
MRTA has been supported as it is comprehensive with educational programs and a plan to promote community growth with the tax revenue produced by hemp production and sales. These policymakers hope to increase educational efforts around the use of marijuana to reduce the overuse of recreational hemp products.
New Mexico is one of the few states in the southwestern United States which still totally outlaw the use of medical or recreational marijuana. Due to its proximity to Colorado and Arizona, states which permit the use of marijuana, it is a rising concern that state resources are being used to track down users who acquired the drug over state lines.
Another state that has made major strides in marijuana legalization is New Mexico. The Drug Policy Alliance has been advocating for the state legislature to pass a constitutional amendment that would allow for The Possession use and sale of marijuana within the state. Their goal is to increase tax revenue and help support the agricultural economy of New Mexico.
Cannabis Laws Rapidly Changing Toward Total Legalization
In recent years we have seen more successful efforts for state and federal policies to support the legalization of medical or recreational marijuana. We can expect the introduction of more marijuana laws by state and federal legislatures as more support is garnered for the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana.
The Democratic majority in the House and Senate, paired with a supportive Administration could bring about some drastic changes to domestic policy. Perhaps this new Administration and 117th Congress will lead the way in the legalization of marijuana nationwide.