Marijuana laws in the United States are a decades-old battle that caused the struggle among lawmakers in deciding who among the citizens have rights to legal usage. Along with this discussion is the question on the acceptable forms of cannabis. Amid President Ronald Regan’s term and the war on drugs efforts, it was also the inception of medical marijuana legalization.
Twenty-three more states were to follow suit a few years later, as of June 2014. It was also the time when Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. Since then, it has been the most widely used drug in the country, with more and more states allowing its usage.
Why Was Cannabis Liberalized?
The legalization of cannabis is due to the lack of prohibition efforts. Reducing access to cannabis and its derivatives has failed even after squandering billions of dollars. There have also been a staggering number of marijuana possessions that lead to many arrests.
The government has decided to limit laws on cannabis use to redirect taxes from substance purchases to meeting the practical needs of the public.
Thirty-six states welcomed the use of recreational marijuana, and 16 states legalized medical marijuana.
The effects of legalizing marijuana use became apparent as it blew up tax revenues in every state that allowed cannabis sale. In 2019, Colorado collected over USD$302 million from the fees and taxes for both medical and recreational marijuana. At that time, the national sales generated USD$12.2 billion.
The state has a Marijuana Tax Cash Fund, where 2.9% of the sales tax from medical marijuana is pooled. The state uses these taxes, along with taxes from other resources, to fund the construction of public schools.
The Effects Of Marijuana Legalization
Californians have been enjoying smoking marijuana since 2016. But there are still many restrictions placed on the people who can use it and places where its enjoyment is acceptable. Users between 18 and 21 can only buy if they are carrying a medical marijuana card under the doctor’s recommendation. Buyers over 21 cannot smoke in vehicles and public places, but they can at home.
California citizens can face charges if proven guilty of breaking these laws. They are then advised to seek a criminal defense lawyer. A part of how drug courts operate in Sacramento is that they allow first- and second-time offenders to get substance abuse treatment instead of receiving a jail sentence. Offenders are also given the option to enter a guilty plea with the chance to receive treatment after completing a rehabilitation program.
Possession of marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Californians are not the only ones who can face charges for such misdemeanors. Cannabis is still under scrutiny as some adolescents and adults have been showing drug dependency.
There was an increase in traffic fatalities in Colorado between 2014 and 2017. This is due to an increased risk of psychosis, and users are at risk of accessing and abusing high-potency cannabis more than the possibility of binge drinking.
The New US Drug Policy
The US drug policy contains the classification of drugs and illegal activities that warrants civil punishments. In the United States, the latest drug policies include the treatment and care for addicts and alcoholics to encourage them to seek therapy.
Back then, addiction was treated as a case of immorality and lack of willpower and character among users. Based on the statistics of incarceration in the country, African-Americans and Caucasians are most prone to drug abuse, thus, monitoring is focused on these groups. The drug policy applies to all races because anyone who participates in illegal activity is punishable by law.
Today, addiction is now treated as an illness that can affect different walks of life. There are various types of programs centered on the prevention of addiction and recovery.
These programs may also help predetermine specific individuals who are likely to develop an addiction. For example, with profiling, those with alcoholic parents or guardians will more likely become alcoholics themselves.
It also centers on the education of individuals with criminal charges, those who were arrested, and civilians about the current drug policy to help decrease these cases and encourage change. Aside from rehabilitation, some prisons allow inmates to get educated as a part of their reformation. It will help them prepare for life after their sentence.
Legalizing cannabis has its pros and cons, and while it is legal in some states, cannabis use is still limited and regulated to help avoid overuse or addiction. And because it is still considered illegal under federal law, citizens must follow the statutes and regulations to stay on the good side of the law.