WHAT IT IS
- Marijuana is legal for medicinal use in 29 states plus D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico, and legal for recreational use in 8 states plus D.C.
- Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug.
- Despite various state support for legalization of marijuana, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has suggested an upcoming crack down on states that have legalized marijuana.
WHY IT MATTERS
A central issue is the government budget: costs of enforcing prohibition/funding incarceration are high, and taxes could be levied on the sales and production of drugs. We’re talking big money. There is also massive legal implications if Sessions decides to crack down, from an individual to state level: a federal arrest for possession that may be legal in your state could ruin your education, job prospects, social relationships; to businesses across the state being forced to shut down, therefore, hundreds of individuals out of a job; to previously budgeted revenue for funding state government programs now gone.
WHERE ARE WE NOW
- The Department of Justice will review the existing marijuana laws.
- Lawmakers in 17 more states are working to legalize recreational use of marijuana.
- States like Colorado and California are helping prepare businesses if the feds crack down.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
- Racial disproportion in arrests: African-Americans are ~3 times more likely to be arrested for possession than White counterparts.
- Federally recognized research on side effects of marijuana cannot take place until the drug is declassified; only 1 current contract for research (at The University of Mississippi).
- Canada is pursuing legalization of recreational marijuana across the country. Uruguay is the only other country where marijuana use is legal.