November 6, 2012 marked the date of an extremely controversial and shocking election on both federal and state levels. One nationally dividing issue actually came from a state election in Washington and Colorado, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana.
What makes this issue so interesting is that non-users of this drug are coming to the support of this act. Many citizens, law enforcement professionals, and politicians are coming to the defense of the legalization of cannabis as a part of the efforts to limit the power of the federal government. As a part of this movement, people believe that the Feds have far too much power over the state and individuals.
Ron Paul on States Rights and Legal Marijuana:
Ron Paul even managed to get one last plea in to the federal government to keep out of Colorado and Washington when it comes to marijuana regulation during his retirement speech a week after the election. Before you celebrate this victory of more freedom in choosing whether or not you want to use marijuana, it’s important to understand who will likely have the final say on the issue.
A Brief History of Marijuana Laws in the United States:
Marijuana is possibly one of the most defended illegal substances in the United States since prohibition – actually many people like to compare the outlawing of marijuana to alcohol prohibition. The first major movement towards the legalization of cannabis was in California when proposition 215 was passed. This made the use of medical marijuana legal. In 2008, medical marijuana became legal in Alaska. As of 2012, marijuana is legal for medical use on a state level in 18 states and Washington, DC.
As far as federal laws go, there has been no precedence set that proves that marijuana is necessary for any medical remedy. Because of this, according to federal law, medical marijuana use remains illegal. The latest areas with state legalization, Washington and Colorado, are the first two to okay cannabis for non-medical/recreational use. Basically, when the law goes into effect, all state penalties will be lifted, marking the unofficial end to marijuana prohibition in those states.
What Happens if Federal Laws are Violated, but Not State Laws?
The underlining issue to the legalization of medical or recreational use of cannabis is that the use of marijuana in any capacity is illegal under federal law. In the cases of state legalization of marijuana, violators in states, which have permitted the drug for use, may not have local law enforcement agencies to worry about. However, they shouldn’t expect to get the ‘all clear’ from the DEA anytime soon. The Drug Enforcement Administration is a federal law enforcement agency within the US Department of Justice. Their mission is to keep drugs out of the country and as long as federal law prohibits the medical and/or recreational use of cannabis, nothing has changed, and all federal penalties will still be enforced.
For more information about federal laws pertaining to marijuana, visit the official White House website. As far as how aggressive the DEA and Feds are going to be about enforcing laws in states which have legalized cannabis for use, that is yet to be determined and will certainly be the center of many debates for at least the upcoming months.
Andrew Miller is an experienced Social Media expert and Author. He has worked in marketing for over a decade and finds his passion in bringing concepts to life for the world to enjoy. He is also an avid blogger and currently working on a book with his wife about social entrepreneurship. He is a true Socialpreneur and finds that his goal in life is to be an agent for positive social change through both his writing and business endeavors.