Why is marijuana legal in some states?


Though it might seem like it, answer to the legalization question is not as straightforward as believing that some states are just cooler than others (though, let’s face it, marijuana is legalized in some pretty great places). Instead, marijuana legalization has a lot to do with understanding that in some instances, like marriage, minimum wage, and marijuana, states must follow federal law but also have the power to pass their own specific laws, too, provided they adhere to the higher law.

State legalization has its roots in California’s Proposition 215, a law passed nearly 20 years ago (1996) allowing the medicinal use of marijuana. Since then, 22 other states, the District of Columbia and Guam now allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs. So far, however, only Washington and Colorado have fully legalized marijuana for recreational use. This type of legalization is the result of years of writing and editing legislation, which includes enforcement plans, grower policies, and taxation, among other complex considerations. Legalization also largely has to do presence of the marijuana lobby, which discuss and write legalization legislation for political leaders, and put pressure on lawmakers to acknowledge and fix the issues facing marijuana users. States with legalization also tend to have constituents with liberal or libertarian leanings, though this may also be changing.

Interestingly, marijuana continues to be classified at the Federal level as a Schedule I substance with no medicinal benefits. This may be changing, however, as we wrote earlier about the use of CBD in pharmaceutical drugs for treatment of epileptic seizures. Also promising? In 2013 the U.S. Department of Justice updated its marijuana enforcement policy to acknowledge state legalization and state enforcement of their own laws. While marijuana is still enforced as a Schedule I substance at the federal level, the memo accompanying the updates states that state regulatory schemes be, “tough in practice, not just on paper, and include strong, state-based enforcement efforts, backed by adequate funding.”

To learn more about current issues, visit the Marijuana Policy Project and NORML, two of the largest marijuana lobby groups in the United States. You can also find out more about medical marijuana legalization at the National Conference of State Legislators.

If you’re looking to find a dispensary, that’s easy! Also, don’t forget to look for smokin’ deals!


Read more about legalization across the nation:

Dallas to Ticket, Not Arrest for Low Level Marijuana Possession

Georgia Looks to Expand Marijuana Laws

91 Reasons to Celebrate: Oregon’s Recreational Pot Laws Go Into Effect 


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