Recently the states of Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana, but the federal government is fighting these two states in court. The two states legalized marijuana by popular vote, but the federal government, which opposes both measures, is fighting to prevent the cities from taxing and regulating pot stores. Many citizens are surprised to find out that the government, which spends billions of dollars every year on various enforcement efforts to combat drug use and drug addiction, is now fighting to prevent marijuana users from legally obtaining marijuana from their state’s cannabis shops. In a nutshell, the federal government is essentially saying that it doesn’t want the states to make it legal, because if it becomes legalized, then the federal government will be forced to enforce all laws against cannabis users, including those that are found within the jurisdiction of the states that legalized the drug.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was formed due to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which regulates all the drugs and substances that are listed in its schedule. Those who are in violation of any provision of the law are forced to go to jail, and those who are caught are also subjected to fines and long-term prison sentences. In theory, the government wants to strictly enforce its laws, but many lawyers and judges are skeptical about the constitutionality of the laws. This is one of the reasons why marijuana is still illegal, even though over two-thirds of the American population uses it regularly.
Even though marijuana is still federally illegal, it is increasingly being legalized by cities throughout the United States. Often marijuana users who are caught by police are ticketed, while others are sent to community corrections or sheriff’s departments. Because marijuana is illegal under federal law, most states avoid making it available on the state-provided pharmacies. In fact, some cities have actually sued the federal government, arguing that they have the right to ban anyone from using or distributing marijuana.
Despite the fact that marijuana is not yet illegal according to the federal government, police officials do not necessarily enforcing the law. One of the reasons is that they do not consider cannabis as a dangerous drug, despite what supporters of legalized weed would like you to believe. The Drug Enforcement Administration claims that marijuana is only moderately harmful, with the risk of addiction relatively minor. However, it is widely believed that the government has no business regulating what people put into their bodies, even if it is smoked.
Supporters of cannabis legalization claim that it has been proven that cannabis users are not driving accidents or committing crimes. Marijuana is not yet proven to be more addictive than alcohol, and it does cause some individuals to lose interest as the effects wear off. In fact, many marijuana users believe that it is not physically addictive at all. This is not the same as saying that alcohol is not physically addictive, because both substances affect neurotransmitters in the brain.
Many countries around the world have made it legal to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Portugal, which used to be the leading nation in the drug trade, has eliminated the sale and consumption of all drugs, including cannabis. Canada, Uruguay, and three American states (California, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island) have legalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. However, these laws do not cover selling or cultivation, which are illegal. The current stance on cannabis by the United States government is that it will be some time before the government begins regulating and taxing the cannabis industry, but until then the laws are in place to respect state-laws on the use of cannabis.