Cannabis in The United States

United States cannabis laws.

  States with medical cannabis laws
  States with decriminalization laws
  States with both

The use, sale and possession of cannabis (marijuana) in the United States is illegal under federal law. However, some states have created exemptions for medical cannabis use, as well asdecriminalized non-medical cannabis use.

President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have maintained that the current administration will not raid medical marijuana dispensaries that cooperate with state and local laws, although the President is not in favor of full legalization on a national level.[1][2] 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.”[3] However, a January 2010 settlement between the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency 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.[4][5]

Despite statements as a Senator, where he called for marijuana decriminalization, promises as a presidential candidate where he stated that marijuana laws needed to be reconsidered and explicit statements as president that he would respect state medical marijuana laws, Barak Obama has presided over 1.7 million marijuana arrests and a nationwide campaign of raiding medical marijuana dispensaries. Dozens of dispensaries have been closed with their owners and workers facing jail and prison sentences.

In October 2011, Gallup poll showed 50 percent support for legalizing marijuana and 46 percent said marijuana should remain illegal. The highest support for legalization came from liberals and adults under age 30, with more than 60 percent and the lowest support came from Americans over age 65 with 31 percent.[6]

Contents

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History

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 (INCORRECTLY) that it has a high potential for abuse and has no acceptable medical use.  Cmon, really?    Blind to the scientifically researched facts claimed by our best universities and medical doctors??

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 2002, Nevada voters defeated a ballot question which would legalize up to 3 ounces (85 g) for adults 21 and older by 39% to 61%. In 2006, a similar Nevada ballot initiative, which would have legalized and regulated the cultivation, distribution, and possession of up to 1 ounce (28 g) of marijuana by adults 21 and older, was defeated by 44% to 56%.

In 2006, South Dakota voters defeated Measure 4, voting 48% for and 52% against. Measure 4 was to allow the use of medical marijuana by patients deemed by their physicians to benefit from its use, and was to be regulated by state-issued ID cards and protection of legitimate medical distributors.

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

Roger Roffman, a professor of social work at the University of Washington, asserted in July 2009 that “approximately 3.6 million Americans are daily or near daily users.”[7]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.”[7] A World Health Organizationsurvey found that the United States is the world’s leading per capita marijuana consumer.[8] The 2007 National Survey on Drug Use & Health prepared by the U.S. Department of Human Health and Services indicates that over 100 million U.S. citizens over the age of 12 have used marijuana.[9] The 2008 survey found that 35 million Americans[10] were willing to tell government representatives[11] that they had used marijuana in the past year.[10]

In 2009, according to a Zogby poll and an ABC News/Washington Post poll, between 46% and 56% of US voters would support legalization[12]

Federal

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. Additionally, under the Supremacy Clause, any state law in conflict with federal law is not valid. These issues were addressed squarely by the United States Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Raich, 352 F. 3d 1222 in 2005. It has also been supported by former governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson.

In January 2009, President Barack Obama‘s transition team organized a poll to clarify some of the top issues the American public want to have his administration look into, and 2 of the top ten ideas were to legalize the use of cannabis.[13]

President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have maintained that the current administration will not raid medical marijuana dispensaries that cooperate with state and local laws, although the President is not in favor of full legalization on a national level.[1][2] 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.”[3] However, a January 2010 settlement between the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency 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.[4][5]

State

16 US states including District of Columbia have so far passed laws allowing some degree of medical use of marijuana(10 of the 16 by majority vote of the citizens)[14] and 13 of these states have taken steps to decriminalize it to some degree.[15] This movement sought to make simple possession of cannabis punishable by only confiscation or a fine, rather than prison.[16] In the past several years, the movement had started to have some successes.[15]

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.

Medical cannabis

In the United States, it is important to differentiate between medical cannabis at the federal and at the state level. At the federal level, cannabis per se has been made criminal by implementation of the Controlled Substances Act. At a state level the control of medical cannabis varies.

Crime

There have been over eight million cannabis arrests in the United States since 1993, including 786,545 arrests in 2005. About 88% of all marijuana arrests are for possession – not manufacture or distribution.[30]

Although large-scale marijuana growing operations are frequently targeted by police in raids to attack the supply side and discourage the spread and marketing of the plant, the great majority of those arrested for cannabis are there for possession alone.[31] However, in 1997, the vast majority of inmates in state prisons for marijuana related convictions were convicted of offenses other than simple possession.[32]

According to the most recent Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report, police arrested 847,864 persons for marijuana violations in 2008. Of those charged with marijuana violations, 754,224 were charged with possession only. The remaining 93,640 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 now comprise about one-half (49.8 percent) of all drug arrests reported in the United States.[33]

References

  1. a b Meyer, Josh; Glover, Scott (2009-03-19). “Medical marijuana dispensaries will no longer be prosecuted, U.S. attorney general says – Los Angeles Times”. Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  2. a b McCullagh, Declan (2009-03-26). “Obama’s virtual town hall takes legalize-pot detour | Politics and Law – CNET News”. News.cnet.com. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  3. a b “Kerlikowske: Legal pot ‘not in my vocabulary’ | KOMO News | Seattle News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News – Seattle, Washington | Local & Regional”. KOMO News. 2009-08-07. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  4. a b “Santa Cruz medical pot collective settles lawsuit with feds – San Jose Mercury News”. Mercurynews.com. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  5. a b “Santa Cruz medical pot collective settles lawsuit with feds”. Inside Bay Area. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  6. ^ “Half in U.S. support legalizing marijuana use, poll finds”Reuters. October 18, 2011.
  7. a b The Editors; Roger Roffman, Wayne Hall, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Peter Reuter, Norm Stamper (2009-07-19). “If Marijuana Is Legal, Will Addiction Rise?”The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2009-07-27.
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ “2007 National Survey on Drug Use & Health: National Results: Appendix G: Selected Prevalence Tables”. U.S. Department of Human Health and Services. 2007. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
  10. a b SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies. “2008 Tables: Illicit Drug Use – 1.1 to 1.46 (PE), SAMHSA OAS”. Oas.samhsa.gov. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  11. ^ NORML / By Paul Armentano (2009-09-10). “Over 100 Million Americans Have Smoked Marijuana – And It’s Still Illegal? | Drugs”. AlterNet. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  12. ^ Grim, Ryan (2009-05-06). “Majority of Americans Want Pot Legalized”.Huffington Post. Retrieved 2009-08-31.
  13. ^ – Retrieved 20 January 2009
  14. a b c d http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000881
  15. a b c d http://www.cga.ct.gov/2010/rpt/2010-R-0204.htm
  16. ^ http://norml.org/component/zoo/category/rethinking-the-consequences-of-decriminalizing-marijuana
  17. a b http://www.law.state.ak.us/press/releases/2006/051206-Marijuana.html
  18. a b c d e f http://norml.org/laws/penalties/item/alaska-penalties
  19. ^ Patrick O’Driscoll (2005-11-03). “Denver votes to legalize marijuana possession”. USA Today. Retrieved 2006-03-11.
  20. ^ O’Driscoll, Patrick (2005-11-03). “Denver OKs pot”USA Today.
  21. a b c d e f g h i j http://norml.org/laws/item/colorado-penalties?category_id=848
  22. ^ “Bill Status for Governor’s S.B. No. 1014”.
  23. a b c d e f g h i http://norml.org/laws/item/connecticut-penalties?category_id=849
  24. ^ Milton Valencia (2008-11-04). “Mass. voters OK decriminalization of marijuana – Local News Updates – The Boston Globe”. Boston.com. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  25. a b c dhttp://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXV/Chapter94c/Section32l
  26. a b c d e f g h i http://norml.org/laws/ma
  27. a b c d http://norml.org/laws/mi
  28. a b c d e f g h i http://norml.org/laws/ny
  29. ^ Drugs and Crime Facts: Drug law violations and enforcementUnited States Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). The data used to create the arrest graphs is on this BJS page.
  30. ^ FBI Uniform Crimes Report
  31. ^ “Marijuana”. Drug War Facts. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  32. ^ [1][dead link]
  33. ^ “Crime in the United States 2008”. Fbi.gov. Retrieved 2010-09-15.[dead link]
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