Over the past several decades, the debate has continued over marijuana and the criminal laws that apply to it. As of today, around three quarters of the states have legalized marijuana in one form or another – either for medical or recreational use, or both.
At the same time, while states decided that marijuana use should be legalized or allowed for medical purposes, federal law remained unchanged. Marijuana was and is a Schedule I drug, possession of which is a federal offense. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, a Schedule I drug not only has a high potential to be abused, it also has “no currently accepted medical value.” While there are many individuals who oppose legalization of marijuana, about half (or more) say their opinion is based upon the fact that use of marijuana is immoral and provides no benefits to individuals or to society. This is disputed by the majority of American people and by well-respected medical sources.
In fact, marijuana has been accepted by the medical establishment as an effective treatment for various conditions, including (according to the Mayo Clinic) not only chronic pain, but also Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, MS, and even nausea caused by cancer treatment.
While both houses of the U.S. Congress have discussed various bills to change the federal view of marijuana, to date there has been little progress. As a result, it came as a welcome surprise earlier this month when President Biden issued pardons for anyone with a prior federal conviction for simple possession of marijuana. Many people hope and expect that this will be followed by a change in how marijuana is classified under federal law.
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