Cannabis in the United States

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1937 Marihuana Revenue stamp

The use, sale, and possession of all forms of cannabis in the United States is illegal under federal law.[1] As a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, cannabis (legal term marijuana) is considered to have "no accepted medical use" and have a high potential for abuse and physical and/or psychological dependence.[2] Cannabis use is illegal for any reason, with the exception of FDA-approved research programs.[3] However, states have created exemptions for various uses, mainly for medical and industrial use.[4][5]

Cannabis for industrial uses (hemp) was made illegal to grow without a permit under the Controlled Substances Act because of its relation to cannabis as a drug, and any imported products must meet a zero tolerance level.[6][7] The Agricultural Act of 2014 allows for universities and state departments of agriculture to cultivate cannabis for research into its industrial potential.[8]

As a drug cannabis finds extensive favor among recreational and medical users.[9][10] In eight states, Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada and Washington, the sale and possession of cannabis is legal for both medical and non-medical use; and Washington DC has legalized personal use but not commercial sale.[11] Multiple efforts to reschedule cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act have failed, and the United States Supreme Court has ruled in United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative and Gonzales v. Raich that the federal government has a right to regulate and criminalize cannabis, whether medical or recreational. As a result, cannabis dispensaries are licensed by each state,[12] and sell cannabis products that have not been approved by the FDA,[13] nor are they legally registered with the federal government to sell controlled substances.[14] Although cannabis has not been approved, the FDA recognizes the potential benefits and has approved two drugs that contain components from marijuana.[15]

History[edit]

Under federal law, it is illegal to possess, use, buy, sell, or cultivate marijuana, since the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, claiming it has a high potential for abuse and has no acceptable medical use. Some states and local governments have established laws attempting to decriminalize cannabis, which has reduced the number of "simple possession" offenders sent to jail, since federal enforcement agents rarely target individuals directly for such relatively minor offenses. Other state and local governments ask law enforcement agencies to limit enforcement of drug laws with respect to cannabis, however under the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, federal law preempts conflicting state and local laws. In most cases, the absence of a state law does not present a preemption conflict with a federal law.

In July 2001, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, clarified the federal government's position when he stated that "marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit" and that "legalization is not in the president's vocabulary, and it's not in mine."[16] However, a January 2010 settlement between the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) provides an example confirming the administration policy as communicated by Attorney General Holder, as WAMM reached an agreement to re-open after being shut down by the federal government in 2002.[17][18]

After the election in 2012, the Office of National Drug Control Policy of the Obama administration stated that it "steadfastly opposes legalization of marijuana and other drugs because legalization would increase the availability and use of illicit drugs, and pose significant health and safety risks".[19] In February 2014, the administration issued guidelines to banks for conducting transactions with legal marijuana sellers so these new businesses can stash away savings, make payroll, and pay taxes like any other enterprise.[20] However, marijuana businesses still lack access to banks and credit unions due to Federal Reserve regulations.[21]

The National Center for Natural Products Research in Oxford, Mississippi is the only facility in the United States that is federally licensed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to cultivate cannabis for scientific research. The Center is part of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Mississippi.

Usage[edit]

Roger Roffman, a professor of social work at the University of Washington, asserted in July 2013 that "approximately 3.6 million Americans are daily or near daily users."[22] Peter Reuter, a professor at the School of Public Policy and the Department of Criminology at the University of Maryland, College Park, said that "experimenting with marijuana has long been a normal part of growing up in the U.S.; about half of the population born since 1960 has tried the drug by age 21."[22] A World Health Organization survey found that the United States is the world’s leading per capita marijuana consumer.[23] The 2007 National Survey on Drug Use & Health prepared by the U.S. Department of Human Health and Services indicated that 14.4 million U.S. citizens over the age of 12 had used marijuana within a month.[24] The 2008 survey found that 35 million Americans[25] were willing to tell government representatives[26] that they had used marijuana in the past year.[25]

According to the 2001 National Survey on Drug Use and Health by SAMHSA, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 41.9% (just over 2 out of every 5) of all Americans 12 or older have used cannabis at some point in their lives, while 11.5% (about 1 in 9) reported using it "this year."[27]

In October 2016, a Gallup poll indicated that 60% of the adults in the United States supported the legalization of marijuana. According to the poll, 67% of Democrats support legalization, compared to 42% of Republicans and 70% of independents. Support among adults aged 18–34 was 77%, compared to 45% among Americans over 55 years of age.[28]

Medical uses is a common reason why people use marijuana. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, "The term medical marijuana refers to using the whole unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat a disease or symptom." However, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not officially approved marijuana as a medicine. [29]

Legality[edit]

Federal[edit]

Under federal law, it is illegal to possess, use, buy, sell, or cultivate marijuana, since the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, claiming it has a high potential for abuse and has no acceptable medical use.

The Federal government has criminalized marijuana under the Interstate Commerce Clause, and the application of these laws to intrastate commerce were addressed squarely by the United States Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Raich, 352 F. 3d 1222 in 2005.

In January 2009, President Barack Obama's transition team organized a poll to clarify some of the top issues the American public wants to have his administration look into, and two of the top ten ideas were to legalize the use of cannabis.[30]

In July 2009, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, further clarified the federal government's position when he stated that "marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit" and that "legalization is not in the president's vocabulary, and it's not in mine."[16] However, a January 2010 settlement between the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) provides an example confirming the administration policy as communicated by Attorney General Holder, as WAMM successfully reached an agreement to re-open after being shut down by the federal government in 2002.[17][18]

On August 28, 2013, a federal executive agency announced that it would no longer actively pursue marijuana offences taking place in the states that have legalized the small consumption and possession of marijuana. The Drug Enforcement Administration will only become involved if the offence involve violence or firearms, the proceeds go to gangs and cartels, or when marijuana is distributed to those states where it is illegal.

On December 11, 2014, the Department of Justice told U.S. attorneys to allow Native American tribes on reservations to grow and sell marijuana, even in states where it is illegal. The policy will be implemented on a case-by-case basis and tribes must still follow federal guidelines.[31]

In 2014, Congress quietly ended the federal government's ability to perform medical marijuana raids.[32]

On March 10, 2015 three U.S. Senators introduced The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States, Act or CARERS Act. The bipartisan bill was introduced by Senators Rand Paul, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Cory Booker. The bill would move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act. This would allow states with medical cannabis laws to legally prescribe it, and allow for much easier research into its medical efficacy. The bill would also allow grow sites besides the University of Mississippi, which has been the sole supplier of cannabis for research, to supply cannabis for study.[33]

The Food and Drug Administration, has approved two synthetic cannabis drugs for treating cancer and other medical issues.{patientshttp://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm421163.htm} The federal government of the United States continues to argue that smoked cannabis has no recognized medical purpose (pointing to a definition of "medical purpose" published by the DEA, not the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, or the office of the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service) – many officials point to the difficulty of regulating dosage (a problem for treatment as well as research) despite the availability (in Canada and the U.K.) of dosage-controlled Sativex. The United States has also pressured other governments (especially Canada and Mexico, with which it shares borders) to retain restrictions on marijuana.

State[edit]

In eight states, Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Washington, California, Massachusetts, Alaska, and Oregon, the sale and possession of marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational use; and Washington DC has legalized personal use but not commercial sale.[11] Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing some degree of medical use of marijuana,[34] and 14 states have taken steps to decriminalize it to some degree.[35][36] In November 2016, 9 states in the US voted on the legalization of recreational marijuana. This movement sought to make simple possession of cannabis punishable by only confiscation or a fine, rather than prison.[37] In the past several years, the movement had started to have some successes.[36]

Some states and local governments have established laws attempting to decriminalize cannabis, which has reduced the number of "simple possession" offenders sent to jail, since federal enforcement agents rarely target individuals directly for such relatively minor offenses. Other state and local governments ask law enforcement agencies to limit enforcement of drug laws with respect to cannabis, however under the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, federal law preempts conflicting state and local laws. In most cases, the absence of a state law does not present a preemption conflict with a federal law.

State and territory laws[edit]

Cannabis laws in the United States1

  Jurisdiction with legalized cannabis.
  Jurisdiction with both medical and decriminalization laws.2
  Jurisdiction with legal psychoactive medical cannabis.
  Jurisdiction with legal non-psychoactive medical cannabis.
  Jurisdiction with decriminalized cannabis possession laws.
  Jurisdiction with cannabis prohibition.

1 Includes laws which have not yet gone into effect.
2 Marked states have only legal non-psychoactive medical cannabis.
* Cannabis remains a Schedule I substance under federal law as of 2015.
* Some cities and Indian Reservations have legalization policies separate from their surrounding states.
* Cannabis is illegal in all Federal enclaves.



Crime[edit]

The great majority of cannabis arrests are for possession.[39] However, in 1997, the vast majority of inmates in state prisons for marijuana related convictions were convicted of offenses other than simple possession.[40]

According to the recent Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual Uniform Crime Report, There have been over twelve million cannabis arrests in the United States since 1996 including 749,825 persons for marijuana violations in 2012. Of those charged with marijuana violations in 2012, 658,231 were charged with possession only. The remaining 91,593 individuals were charged with "sale/manufacture," a category that does not differentiate for cultivation offenses, even those where the marijuana was being grown for personal or medical use. Marijuana arrests comprise almost one-half (48.3 percent) of all drug arrests reported in the United States.[41] According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there were 8.2 million marijuana arrests from 2001 to 2010, and 88% of those arrests were just for having marijuana with them. [42]

Political support[edit]

The Libertarian Party and the Green Party support the full legalization of marijuana. The United States Marijuana Party also has local chapters in 29 states but there are many state-level parties as well. Members associated with the US Marijuana Party have run for office, including Edward Forchion (for multiple offices) and candidates from the Marijuana Reform Party (for governor).

  • Minnesota has the Grassroots Party.
  • In New York State, in 1998 and 2002, the Marijuana Reform Party of New York State ran candidates for governor and other statewide offices. In 2004, a federal judge held that, by running candidates in 1998 and 2002 statewide elections, the Marijuana Reform Party demonstrated a "modicum of support" sufficient to entitle it to an injunction compelling the state board of elections to recognize the party and allow voters to enroll in it.[citation needed] Viable in New York State because of its unique fusion political system, it remains the only political party in the United States recognized on a statewide level and dedicated solely to the advocacy of marijuana law reform.

Polling[edit]

Gallup began polling the public as to the issue of legalizing cannabis in 1969; in that year 12% were in favor.[43]

According to a 2013 survey by Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans are in favor of complete or partial legalization of cannabis.[44] The survey showed 52% of respondents support cannabis legalization and 45% do not. College graduates' support increased from 39% to 52% in just three years, the support of self-identified conservative Republicans (a group not traditionally supportive of cannabis legalization) has increased to nearly 30%, and bipartisan support has increased across the board. Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher introduced H.R.1523 "Respect State Marijuana Laws" on April 12, 2013 with 11 cosponsors of both major political parties.[45]

See also[edit]

Advocacy[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Clarke, Robert; Merlin, Mark (2013). Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany. University of California Press. p. 185. ISBN 978-0-520-95457-1. 
  2. ^ DEA (2013). "The DEA Position on Marijuana" (PDF). Dea.gov. Retrieved May 15, 2016. 
  3. ^ McKinsey, John A.; Burke, Debra (2014). Carper's Understanding the Law. Cengage Learning. p. 216. ISBN 978-1-305-17730-7. 
  4. ^ "State Industrial Hemp Statutes". Ncsl.org. 2016. Retrieved May 15, 2016. 
  5. ^ "State Medical Marijuana Laws". Ncsl.org. 2016. Retrieved May 15, 2016. 
  6. ^ Frank J. House (2006). Agricultural Programs, Terms and Laws. Nova Publishers. p. 146. ISBN 978-1-59454-892-5. 
  7. ^ White, Rob (2013). Global Environmental Harm: Criminological Perspectives. University of Tasmania. p. 185. ISBN 978-1-134-03031-6. 
  8. ^ Jonathan P. Caulkins; Beau Kilmer; Mark A.R. Kleiman (2016). Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know?. Oxford University Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-19-026243-3. 
  9. ^ Lowinson, Joyce H. (2005). Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 274. ISBN 978-0-7817-3474-5. 
  10. ^ "Recreational Cannabis in US". Retrieved 5 May 2016. 
  11. ^ a b Ferner, Matt (January 26, 2015). "Legal Marijuana Is The Fastest-Growing Industry In The U.S.: Report". Huffington post. Retrieved May 19, 2015. 
  12. ^ David Neubauer; Stephen Meinhold (2013). Judicial Process: Law, Courts, and Politics in the United States. Cengage Learning. p. 108. ISBN 978-1-133-71178-0. 
  13. ^ "Public Health Focus > FDA and Marijuana: Questions and Answers". Fda.gov. Retrieved May 15, 2016. 
  14. ^ Brian F Thomas; Mahmoud ElSohly (2015). The Analytical Chemistry of Cannabis: Quality Assessment, Assurance, and Regulation of Medicinal Marijuana and Cannabinoid Preparations. Elsevier Science. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-12-804670-8. 
  15. ^ Commissioner, Office of the. "Public Health Focus - FDA and Marijuana". www.fda.gov. Retrieved 2016-11-23. 
  16. ^ a b "Kerlikowske: Legal pot 'not in my vocabulary'". KOMO News. August 7, 2009. Retrieved July 21, 2016. 
  17. ^ a b "Santa Cruz medical pot collective settles lawsuit with feds - San Jose Mercury News". Mercurynews.com. Retrieved September 15, 2010. 
  18. ^ a b "Santa Cruz medical pot collective settles lawsuit with feds". Inside Bay Area. Retrieved September 15, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Marijuana Resource Center] Office of National Drug Control Policy". 
  20. ^ "Feds Let Banks and Marijuana Sellers Do Business". Archived from the original on February 14, 2014. 
  21. ^ "The Marijuana Industry's Access to Banks". 
  22. ^ a b The Editors; Roger Roffman; Wayne Hall; Mark A.R. Kleiman; Peter Reuter; Norm Stamper (July 19, 2009). "If Marijuana Is Legal, Will Addiction Rise?". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved July 27, 2009. 
  23. ^ Degenhardt, L; Chiu W-T, Sampson N; Kessler, RC; Anthony, JC; et al. (2008). "Toward a Global View of Alcohol, Tobacco, Cannabis, and Cocaine Use: Findings from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys". PLoS Med. 5 (7): e141. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050141. 
  24. ^ "Results from the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings". U.S. Department of Human Health and Services. 2007. Retrieved March 28, 2013. 
  25. ^ a b SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies. "2008 Tables: Illicit Drug Use - 1.1 to 1.46 (PE), SAMHSA OAS". Oas.samhsa.gov. Archived from the original on September 4, 2010. Retrieved September 15, 2010. 
  26. ^ NORML / By Paul Armentano (September 10, 2009). "Over 100 Million Americans Have Smoked Marijuana - And It's Still Illegal? | Drugs". AlterNet. Retrieved September 15, 2010. 
  27. ^ Table 1.1B – Types of Illicit Drug Use in Lifetime, Past Year, and Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older: Percentages, 2010 and 2011?
  28. ^ Crary, David (2016-10-19). "Record high 60 percent of Americans back legal pot, poll finds". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved 2016-10-21. 
  29. ^ https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  30. ^ "- Retrieved 20 January 2009". Archived from the original on January 20, 2009. 
  31. ^ Phelps, Timothy M. "U.S. won't stop Native Americans from growing, selling pot on their lands". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 December 2014. 
  32. ^ "Congress Passes Historic Medical Marijuana Protections In Spending Bill". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 9, 2015. 
  33. ^ Kroll, David. "Senators Introduce Bill To End Federal Curbs On Medical Marijuana". Forbes. Retrieved March 12, 2015. 
  34. ^ "23 Legal Medical Marijuana States and DC - Medical Marijuana - ProCon.org". procon.org. Retrieved November 9, 2015. 
  35. ^ 3 States with Pending Legislation to Legalize Medical Marijuana, December 10, 2012, retrieved January 7, 2013 
  36. ^ a b "MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION". ct.gov. Retrieved November 9, 2015. 
  37. ^ "NORML.org - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws". norml.org. Retrieved November 9, 2015. 
  38. ^ Drugs and Crime Facts: Drug law violations and enforcement. United States Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). The data used to create the arrest graphs is on this BJS page.
  39. ^ "Marijuana". Drug War Facts. Retrieved September 15, 2010. 
  40. ^ [1] Archived December 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  41. ^ "Drug Crimes in the U.S.". Fbi.gov. 
  42. ^ https://www.aclu.org/gallery/marijuana-arrests-numbers.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  43. ^ Smith, Michael. "Support for Legal Marijuana Use Up to 60% in U.S.". Gallup. Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  44. ^ "Majority Now Supports Legalizing Marijuana". Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. April 4, 2013. Retrieved November 9, 2015. 
  45. ^ "Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013 (2013; 113th Congress H.R. 1523) - GovTrack.us". GovTrack.us. Retrieved November 9, 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]