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 recreational 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]

On May 30, 2014, the U.S. House passed the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment, prohibiting the Justice Department from spending funds to interfere with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. The amendment became law in December 2014, and must be renewed each year in order to remain in effect.[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]

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.[38] However, in 1997, the vast majority of inmates in state prisons for marijuana related convictions were convicted of offenses other than simple possession.[39]

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.[40] 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.[41]

Political support[edit]

The Libertarian Party and the Green Party advocate for the legalization of marijuana.[42] There is also the United States Marijuana Party that has local chapters in several states. Members associated with the US Marijuana Party have run for office, and candidates from the Youth International Party, the Grassroots Party, the Marijuana Reform Party and the Legal Marijuana Now Party.

Early History of Cannabis Political Parties Across the U.S.[edit]

  • The Youth International Party, formed in 1967 to advance the counterculture of the 1960s, often ran candidates for public office. The Yippie flag is a five-pointed star superimposed with a cannabis leaf.[43]
  • The Grassroots Party was founded in Minnesota in 1986 and ran numerous candidates for state and federal offices. The party was active in Iowa, Minnesota, and Vermont. Grassroots Party ran candidates in every presidential election from 1988 to 2000.[44][45][46][47]
  • The Legal Marijuana Now Party was established in Minnesota in 1998.[48]
  • In 1998, an independent candidate, Edward Forchion, ran for Congress from New Jersey as the Legalize Marijuana Party candidate. Since then, Forchion has run several times for a number of offices, under that banner.
  • The Marijuana Reform Party was established in New York, in 1998, and ran Gubernatorial candidates there in both 1998 and 2002.[49]

Recent United States Cannabis Political Party News[edit]

  • The United States Marijuana Party is an organization that promotes electoral involvement by marijuana legalization supporters. In 2012, the group endorsed Libertarian Gary Johnson for President.
  • In 2010 and 2012, independent candidate Cris Ericson was on the ballot for multiple offices in Vermont under the label of U.S. Marijuana.
  • The Grassroots political party changed its name in 2014 to Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party.[50]
  • In 2016, the Legal Marijuana Now Party placed their presidential candidates onto the ballot in two states.[51][52]

Polling[edit]

Gallup began polling the public as to the issue of legalizing cannabis in 1969; in that year 12% were in favor.[53]

According to a 2013 survey by Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans are in favor of complete or partial legalization of cannabis.[54] 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.[55]

See also[edit]

Advocacy[edit]

References[edit]

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  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. 
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  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. ^ Sullum, Jacob (January 4, 2016). "The Federal Ban on Medical Marijuana Was Not Lifted". Reason. Retrieved February 7, 2017. 
  33. ^ Kroll, David. "Senators Introduce Bill To End Federal Curbs On Medical Marijuana". Forbes. Retrieved March 12, 2015. 
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  39. ^ [1] Archived December 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
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  41. ^ https://www.aclu.org/gallery/marijuana-arrests-numbers.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  42. ^ Steinberg, Oliver (October 3, 2016). "Third- or even fourth-party candidates can play key roles". Star Tribune. 
  43. ^ Reston, James Jr. (1991). "Collision at Home Plate: The Lives of Pete Rose and Bart Giamatti, p. 78". University of Nebraska Press. 
  44. ^ Minnesota Secretary of State (November 1988). "Minnesota Election Results 1988, p. 18" (PDF). Minnesota Legislative Reference Library. 
  45. ^ Klein, Patricia A. (June 1993). "Federal Elections 92: Election Results for the U.S. President, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, p. 9" (PDF). Federal Election Commission. 
  46. ^ Bickford, Bob (October 7, 1998). "1996 Presidential Election Results by State". Ballot Access News. 
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  48. ^ Worth, Robert (November 7, 2002). "The 2002 Elections: Smaller Parties". The New York Times. 
  49. ^ Winger, Richard (June 15, 2014). "Minnesota Candidate Filing Closes". Ballot Access News. 
  50. ^ Hanson, Alex (August 25, 2016). "Weekly politics wrap-up: Ballot access in Iowa". Iowa State Daily. 
  51. ^ Stassen-Berger, Rachel E. (August 24, 2016). "Don't like Trump or Clinton? You have choices". Pioneer Press. 
  52. ^ Smith, Michael. "Support for Legal Marijuana Use Up to 60% in U.S.". Gallup. Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  53. ^ "Majority Now Supports Legalizing Marijuana". Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. April 4, 2013. Retrieved November 9, 2015. 
  54. ^ "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]