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Legalization of Marijuana

Autor:   •  March 11, 2018  •  3,303 Words (14 Pages)  •  84 Views

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In 1970 congress also passed The Controlled Substances Act. This act classified marijuana along with heroin and LSD as a Schedule 1 drug ( having relatively high abuse potential and no accepted medical use) (Narconon 1). Along with the actions taken by the American government, the Mexican government began efforts to get rid of marijuana by spraying crop fields with Paraquat ( a herbicide) which raised public fear of side effects when smoking the drug (Narconon 1). Then, even stricter reforms for marijuana came along during the Reagan and Bush administrations because of their zero tolerance policies. They enacted strict laws and mandatory sentences for people who got caught with possession of marijuana. They also made for increased law enforcement to be on careful watch against smuggling at the southern borders of the country, which is where a lot of marijuana was being smuggled in from (Narconon 1).

For a turn around, in 1972 big moves were attempted by bipartisan Shafer Commission which was appointed by President Nixon. He tried to implement marijuana laws that essentially decriminalized it. Though this was unsuccessful, throughout the 1970's eleven states decided to decriminilize marijuana and also most other states reduced the penalties for the use of the drug.

Despite the decriminalization of marijuana in eleven states during the 1970's, the war on drugs continued to be a prevalent issue. Since the borders of the country had a strong increase in security to prevent drug smuggling, there was a shift in focus from import to domestic growth, particularly in Hawaii and California. The marijuana grown in Hawaii and California became very popular amongst marijuana users due to its reputation for high quality. These states received a lot of publicity in the media like for example rap songs referencing the Hawaiian native grown strain of marijuana known as "Maui Waui" (Leafly 1). Due to high criminal activity related to marijuana growth in the country, the United States DEA ( Drug Enforcement Administration) focused its efforts to the marijuana farms dominating the industry. This led to a shift from the outdoor process of growing marijuana, to the more secretive and elusive process of indoor marijuana growing which focuses on maximizing small spaces for high yields (Narconon 1).

At this point in the history of marijuana, (late 1970's), it is a staple in the history of the country. It has stories from popular culture, the media, medical research, and law enforcement. There are movies on it, and it is the big topic of discussion amongst young teenagers and their parents around the country. Big movements around the country sprung, with more conservative parents being concerned about their kids using drugs, especially the popular drug marijuana. They were lobbying for stricter regulation and for the full on prevention of marijuana use amongst teenagers. The movements created some strong groups that gained the support of the DEA and NIDA ( the National Institute on Drug Abuse). Together these groups and government agencies made big moves towards influencing public attitudes, again shunning the use of marijuana (PBS 1.) In 1986 President Reagan took a step against marijuana use and enacted the Anti-Drug Abuse Act. This act called for severe mandatory sentences on drug offenders. This act, in conjunction with the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, which raised federal penalties for marijuana possession and dealing, made the law so much more stricter for marijuana offenses. The penalties would be based on the amount of marijuana involved, and penalties would mimic those for a more serious drug, heroin. The death penalty became open to big time drug dealers and also life sentences were sentenced to offenders who had committed drug related offences more than twice (NCJRS 1).

After years of being strictly regulated, marijuana became legalized for medical use in California in the year 1996. This was a historical moment in the history of marijuana. California voters passed Proposition 215 which essentially made it okay for the sale and medical use of the drug. This was very helpful for people who actually needed and benefited from the many medicinal properties of marijuana. People with AIDS and cancer who go though lots of chemotherapy benefited greatly from this prop because they were now able to get their medications easier. Proposition 215 was and still is very arguable because it was passed in disagreement with the federal laws in place which prohibit the possession of marijuana (PBS 1).

In 2001, The United States Supreme Court ruled that the federal anti-drug laws do not permit an exception for medical cannabis and it rejected the common-law medical necessity defense to crimes enacted under the Controlled Substances Act because Congress concluded cannabis has "no currently accepted medical use" when the act was passed in 1970. In 2005 the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution allowed the federal government to ban the use of cannabis, including medical use. The court found the federal law valid, although the cannabis in question had been grown and consumed within a single state, and had never entered interstate commerce. Congress may ban the use of cannabis even where states approve its use for medicinal purposes (Marijuana Timeline - Important Dates in History of Marijuana). Despite this fact, several states legalized marijuana for recreational use. These states are Alaska (21 and older), Oregon, Colorado, and Washington, along with the District of Columbia. Many other states have legalized medical marijuana use only. The total number of states having some form of laws legalizing marijuana in some form are 23 plus the District of Columbia (State Marijuana Laws Map 1).

Today, marijuana continues to be a very controversial issue. There are still both sides taking the two different stands on the issue: should marijuana be legal? There are the two extremes, those that want it to be completely illegal, and those who love it so much they will do anything to make it legal. And of course there is the in between of those two extremes, where some people don't even care about what happens with the legal status or marijuana in the United States. Each side has plenty of supporters. Both sides bring with them arguments that have been around since the beginning of marijuana use in the United States: one side still believes it is a danger to people and to society, and one side still would just like to be able to smoke their pot in peace at their own discretion.

Over the years, there has been a lot of research done on marijuana. So much that there are detailed research papers and databases all over the internet that are openly available to the public at no


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