Marijuana: Future in the United States

Marijuana

Marijuana’s reputation in the United States has seen a dramatic shift over the past four to five decades. It has gone  from having an intensely negative legal and social stigma including heavy condemnation from the government, to being increasingly accepted by the public and legalized for medicinal use in twenty states (legalized for recreational use in two). Even the current President of the United States openly admitted to inhaling marijuana in his past. Times are truly changing and fast for the controversial plant, which leads many to ask: what is marijuana’s future in the United States?

So far, the states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal use are, in alphabetical order: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington (also District of Columbia). Colorado and Washington are the only states that have also legalized the recreational use of marijuana (quick note for those who don’t already know: medicinal use is for patients whose doctors prescribe and deem marijuana as a sufficient medicine to their ailment(s) while recreational use is allowed for anyone twenty-one years or older). With more states considering medicinal and even recreational legalization, it seems marijuana’s future in America is inching closer and closer to a nationwide legalization, but that is only speculation at this point. Between conservatives (particularly in the South) still opposed to the acceptance and use of marijuana as well as the fact that marijuana is still federally illegal, there is still plenty of red tape to circumvent before aforementioned nationwide legalization could occur.

Wait, so regardless of whether it is legalized for medicinal or recreational use, marijuana is still illegal under federal law? Yes, and federal law supersedes state law which has been a confounding factor in this whole debate. However, the Obama administration has said numerous times over the past few years that they will not interfere with any state’s decision to roll out their own laws to legalize or decriminalize marijuana. Rather, the administration will focus its efforts on preventing trafficking from states where marijuana is legalized to states where it is still illegal. It will also look to see whether or not states will be able to successfully keep marijuana out of the hands of minors. Presumably, if the state appears to have an insufficient ability to fulfill the latter, the feds will most likely step in. Despite this perplexing relationship between states and the federal government, at least fourteen more states are slated to attempt passage of either decriminalization or medicinal/recreational legalization, with rumors that Alaska will be the next state to legalize recreational use.

Assume for a moment that fourteen states do at least legalize the use of medicinal marijuana in the next year or two. That would bring the overall total of states that have legalized the herb from twenty to thirty-four, more than half of the United States of America. Furthermore, it seems that at least in a couple of states (Washington and Colorado) where medicinal use was legalized first, legalization for recreational use  followed. If even just a few more of the twenty states (such as Alaska) with medicinal legalization take the next step and pass recreational legalization, a pattern or precedent might emerge, causing something of a trend among other states, ultimately leading to more widespread legalization across the country in a relatively short amount of time. But again, this is just speculation. There are still a large number of variables involved in shaping marijuana’s future in the United States.

There are many reasons for which states decide to decriminalize or legalize marijuana in any capacity, but it mostly comes down to what is best for the state and its welfare, as well as what its population wants. Thus, a state’s decision to legalize marijuana for recreational use reflects the majority opinion of the public and government that legalization would benefit the state. There are a staggering number of ways that recreational use of marijuana can benefit a state, from increases in state tax revenue, consumer purchases of goods and services and even an increase in overall happiness, to keeping hundreds and even thousands of people out of prison for minor marijuana offenses, saving significant taxpayer money.

One other major benefit to continued legalization that cannot be overlooked is increased allowance for further research into the medicinal applications of marijuana. Of course, there is already a plethora of revelations from past research such as its ability to reduce pain and stress in cancer patients, but there is still a lot more to be learned and discovered. For example, there was a very recent breakthrough in a study suggesting that marijuana may stop the spread of HIV.

In consideration of the aforementioned, it is difficult to ascertain marijuana’s future in the Unite States, but as more states consider legalization, it is difficult to ignore a growing shift in national attitude toward Mary Jane (one of many alternative names for marijuana). If it does become legalized nationwide, will tobacco companies and other big corporations swoop in to take control and/or advantage of the market? Will the sale of marijuana on the black market become pointless and obsolete? Will the federal government’s war on drugs become more effective by focusing less on marijuana and more on hardcore, harmful drugs? Will the United States become a mecca for marijuana enthusiasts across the globe (and subsequently one of the chillest places to chill)? It is tough to know for sure and there is still a lot to speculate and debate about, but if the current chain of events continues and legalization keeps occurring from state to state, the answers to the aforementioned questions will most likely be answered sooner rather than later.

By: Taylor Schlacter

Sources:
New York Times
CNN
Huffington Post

4 Responses to "Marijuana: Future in the United States"

  1. Slinky Redfoot   February 9, 2015 at 2:41 am

    Just to be clear, cannabis saved my life. For years, my daily medications consisted of 120 mgs of morphine, 120 mgs. Of hydrocodone , and 20mgs. Of Valium . The pain from my broken, and improperly fused neck, C-3 thru C7, complete with cadaver bones, plate and screws…was terrible…and the medications were worse. I had zero energy, and felt like the walking dead…I gained over a hundred lbs, due primarily from inaction, far too sedated. I developed type II diabetes , insulin dependent. Now since medicinal cannabis, I no longer need or take the narcotics…I’ve lost over 140 lbs, and am at the recommended weight for my height…I have energy, focus, and motivation, and can once again function on a daily basis, completing tasks. And living again. Cannabis, saved my life.

    Reply
  2. Kemborllay   September 8, 2014 at 11:03 am

    There are no warning labels on marijuana. There are a lot of Red Flags there.

    Reply
  3. Dave K, Phoenix, AZ   March 10, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    If prohibitionists would listen they could find out how to keep marijuana out of the hands of kids. They are more concerned about messages being sent to kids than they are about doing something to keep marijuana out of the hands of kids. The way to do this is to legalize marijuana and to regulate it like alcohol. Kids have reported for many years on the government’s own SAMHSA drug surveys that it is now easier for them to get marijuana than it is for them to get alcohol or tobacco. The system that we use for alcohol and tobacco is not perfect but it works better than one where marijuana is purchased from drug dealers who also sell many far more dangerous and addictive substances to our kids. It really is time to legalize marijuana and to regulate it like alcohol.

    Reply
  4. Brian Kelly B Bizzle   March 5, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    There is absolutely no doubt now that the majority of Americans want to completely legalize marijuana nationwide. Our numbers grow on a daily basis.

    The prohibitionist view on marijuana is the viewpoint of a minority of Americans.. It is based upon decades of lies and propaganda.

    Each and every tired old lie they have propagated has been thoroughly proven false by both science and society.

    Their tired old rhetoric no longer holds any validity. The majority of Americans have seen through the sham of marijuana prohibition in this day and age. The number of prohibitionists left shrinks on a daily basis.

    With their credibility shattered, and their not so hidden agendas visible to a much wiser public, what’s left for a marijuana prohibitionist to do?

    Maybe, just come to terms with the fact that Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think, and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

    The “War on Marijuana” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

    Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Marijuana”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. It’s a no brainer.

    The Prohibition of Marijuana has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

    Marijuana is much safer, and healthier to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

    Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

    The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

    Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

    Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

    Reply

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