The state of affairs surrounding cannabis laws per se in the US has undergone a radical and speedy shift in the past twenty years. The nature of modifications pertaining to CBD legalization can be grouped under the following categories:-
During Barack Obama’s presidency, a total of 13 states permitted cannabis use exclusively for therapeutic purposes. However, not a single state in the US had CBD legalization that specified and hence allowed the weed’s recreational use. However, when Donald Trump assumed office on 20thJanuary 2017, policymakers in 15 more states drafted proposals for legalizing medical marijuana use that ultimately became enforceable.
On the other hand, Washington DC and 8 other states decriminalized its recreational use. After a few months, West Virginia’s legislature made it legal for residents in the state to smoke pot or consume weed in any form solely on medicinal grounds. Reviewing the CBD laws by state, the Vermont legislature was the first state parliament to put into effect a legalization bill permitting the use of marijuana on a recreational basis.
At present, a total of 46 states have legalized the restorative or remedial use of CBD but federal laws continue to list marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug along with LSD, heroin, and peyote. Nevertheless, attitudes and approaches relating to weed’s legalization are changing both at the federal and state level, and rapidly at that. In the past few years, public support for allowing cannabis’s legal use has ballooned, a substantial shift in policy change has been witnessed at the federal level, and Congress members have become more receptive to addressing the issues.
As state policymakers wake up to the need to restructure CBD laws to keep them relevant with the times, the necessity of streamlining the federal laws is also acutely felt. Reforming the laws at the federal level is necessary as the same will act as a watchdog for monitoring state laws.
Marijuana has been categorized as a Schedule 1 drug as per the Federal Controlled Substances Act since 1970 making its use illegal. In other words, going by federal laws, there was always a high possibility of the cannabis being misused or abused which was the chief reason for the psychoactive drug to be included in the Schedule 1 list. Additionally, cannabis was looked upon as illicit under the CBD laws by state.
Nevertheless, the Atlas of CBD laws by state has witnessed a significant transformation in the last twenty years. The first state to officially authorize the medicinal use of marijuana was California which it did in 1996. In 1998, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington made the drug’s use legal and thereafter many states have followed suit.
It was in 2016, that the maximum number of states authorized marijuana’s use-9 t to be precise. California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada sanctioned its use for recreational purposes while Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania approved the medicinal use. As things stand in 2018, 29 states permit legal use of cannabis, including 8 states that authorize recreational use as well while 17 states allow the use of non-psychotropic cannabis extracts, especially for treating specific medical syndromes.
Approximately 60% of Americans (210 million) presently resided in states that have endorsed using of marijuana for general medicinal purposes. This figure is a quantum leap from the figure of 62 million about a decade back and 32 million a further ten years earlier. As far as recreational use is concerned, the corresponding figure has gone up from 12 million in 2012 to 70 million in 2017. It is worthwhile to note that there were no recreational users in 2011.
To say the least but not the last, now roundabout 98% of all US citizens have legal access to marihuana or cannabis for taking advantage of it medicinally or recreationally or otherwise. It may sound incredible but it’s a fact that even two decades back this figure was 0%. As of June 2018, all the states, excepting four-Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas- have made cannabis legal in some form or the other, in direct contravention of federal laws.
The incongruence between the federal and CBD laws by state has some grave and adverse fallout. Each and every stakeholder (in the marijuana market) is vulnerable to federal prosecution and incarceration. Banks prefer to avoid getting stigmatized and sucked into unwarranted controversies by lending capital or offering other services to cannabis-oriented businesses even if these are legal.
These firms are consequently compelled to carry out transactions in cash which in turn makes it bewildering for states to track such deals and accordingly levy taxes, ultimately resulting in huge loss of revenues. States have to find ingenious ways of closely guarding the market within their borders so as to evade preemptive federal lawsuits.
The medical marijuana community throughout the US and majority of stoners were optimistic that Obama would be successful in authorizing cannabis’s all-purpose use on a nationwide basis. However, he could not advance beyond the Cole Memo that ordered federal lawyers to deal with suits tactfully in states that had legalized the drug. Trump true to his type, took an ambivalent stance when a bipartisan proposal for modifying specific aspects in the legal structures related to federal ban was placed in the Congress on 7th June 2018.
Trump is more in favor of decriminalizing cannabis as far as its medical benefits are concerned whereas Sessions, the attorney-general is completely against legalizing the substance in any form. However, it feels good to see that the entire community of users, including the medical marijuana society and stoners, are getting united in calling for the weed’s legalization. Public demand for sanctioning marijuana’s therapeutic use far outstrips support for legally permitting its leisurely use.