Marijuana Is Controversial and Barely Legal

Marijuana
Cannabis is still considered a Schedule 1 drug by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). To date, 23 states and The District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) have medical marijuana laws in place. Some states have legalized recreational pot usage. There are opinions on both sides–marijuana is controversial and barely legal.

The DEA is a division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and their drug classification rules state, “No prescriptions may be written for Schedule 1 substances.” Additionally, they may not be”available for clinical use.” Among the list of hard narcotics is Marijuana. The list also contains Heroin, LSD, Peyote, Ecstasy, Quaaludes, etc.

Since almost half of the U.S. has medical marijuana laws in place is the DOJ ignoring federal laws?  The answer is, maybe. In an a recent article about this topic, the term “doublethink” was used. George Orwell coined the word and defined it as follows, “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” This word explains the government’s war on drugs and its distribution of legal joints for glaucoma patients.

Robert Randall, a resident of Washington D.C., was granted the right to use the drug for medical purposes by a Federal Judge in 1976. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was ordered to supply Randall with the drug. He was granted this because no other medication offered him relief for his glaucoma.

As a result of this ruling, the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program (Compassionate IND) was established. The program is run by the Federal Government and the plant is grown at the University of Mississippi. From 1976 to 1992, this program ran as the law stated. The reversal was during the height AIDS epidemic when the public health authorities declared there was no scientific reason to continue. In other words, it was suspended in response to President G.W. Bush’s administrative push to “get tough on drugs.” Fortunately, the patients who were already on the program did not have to leave; they were “grandfathered in.”

Cannabis was legal and considered a medication in 1850. By the mid-1930s, opposition began to grow and 48 states passed laws to make it illegal because it was thought to be addictive. Then, the “Hippies” or “Flower Child” generation began to defy the anti-marijuana laws openly. In response, President Nixon declared a war on drugs in 1971. Once President Reagan was in office, First Lady Nancy Reagan launched the “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign. The movement was started in 1984, and two years later, President Reagan signed The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986.

marijuana

Proponents of medical marijuana, armed with the knowledge that the drug was considered a medication in 1850 and the Compassionate IND, began to fight for the right of the people to use pot for medicinal purposes. By 1998, four states had passed laws to allow medical marijuana to be used by patients; California passed the law in 1996. By 2014, 23 states and Washington D.C. also followed this path. Still, marijuana is considered controversial and barely legal, at least from a federal standpoint.

There has also been a movement to allow the recreational use of the drug. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington State currently have laws in place legalizing recreational usage of cannabis. The recreational use laws vary from state to state. The federal laws are the exception. Federally, it is illegal to transport marijuana across state lines and it is illegal to mail the drug as well.

While the laws are changing, the U.S. government is still practicing its doublethink and there are those who question the fact that marijuana is safe. Concerns about addiction are a big argument against the legalization of marijuana. However, proponents of the drug argue that addiction to alcohol and tobacco do not keep them from being legal. Even today, with all of the new laws, marijuana is controversial and barely legal.

Opinion By Cathy Milne
Edited By Leigh Haugh

Sources:
Governing the States and Localities–State Marijuana Laws Map
ProCon–23 Legal Medical Marijuana States and D.C. Laws, Fees, and Possession Limits
USA TODAY–4 Americans Get Pot From U.S. Government
FRONTLINE–Thirty Years of America’s Drug War: A Chronology
Feature Photo Courtesy of Coleen Whitfield’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Photo Courtesy of Sarah Reese’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License