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Federalism and the Legalization of Marijuana

There has been a long and heated debate over the use of marijuana and the legalization of it in many states of America. California, along with other states, passed legislation for the legalization of marijuana for their citizens in 2016, and the proper laws were in motion in 2017. In the year of 1913, California banned the use of weed, but they decided to change it by voting again on this issue in the year of 1972 but the outcome of the result remained the same; it was not legalized. They did, however, show leniency in the stringent laws of marijuana, downgrading the laws for it. If a person is caught carrying marijuana with no more than an ounce of it, it was not considered as a major crime, instead regarded as a delinquent behavior. After another unsuccessful attempt to make the use of marijuana legal, the state of California passed legislation permitting the use of marijuana for medical use only. After two decades of legalizing the use of marijuana for medical treatment, it was finally approved, and the state of California officially legalized marijuana for its citizens. Even though the supporters of marijuana did not have a land-sliding win in the voting, they all seem to be quite pleased to make it legalized. The legalization of marijuana is a choice by the people of the state, not imposed by the government, and if that makes the majority of the people happy, then no one can object to it. However, the law would have some ramifications in the future though.

The use of marijuana is legal, however most of the states have still not recognized marijuana as a safe drug to be used by common people. California, Washington, and a few other states have recognized its importance and are hell-bent on maintaining and defending their stance on the legalization of this drug. The interesting aspect of it is to notice that even though the states of California and Washington have made the use of marijuana legal and stated its medical advantages, the federal law is completely opposite of it. The law of using marijuana does not exist under the federal law, moreover marijuana is considered a major drug in the eyes of the law (Saaty, 2015). The federal law places marijuana and cocaine in the same category of dangerous and illicit drugs. It might seem over the top to even consider marijuana in the same list of harmful drugs as cocaine. In the eyes of federal law, marijuana is as harmful and dangerous of a drug as LSD, cocaine, and meth. The drugs are categorized in different ways under the law; the drugs are being scheduled. It is interesting to note that marijuana comes under the umbrella of Schedule 1. These drugs, which come under Schedule 1, are considered to be the most dangerous ones, including heroin and LSD. The drugs are considered to be lethal to the human body and deemed that they have no medical use and thus cannot be used for medical treatments.

Whereas the drugs that lie in Schedule 2 are less dangerous than those of Schedule 1, they nonetheless have deleterious effects on human behavior. These drugs include the likes of Adderall, meth and cocaine. Under federal law, marijuana is considered a more dangerous drug than cocaine, but cocaine probably would never be legalized. There is a glaring conflict between the laws stated by the federal state and the state laws. There is now a war going on between the federal government and the state government. The struggle for power is apparent, and none of the two wants to concede. In the year of 2005, the case was Gonzales v. Raich, in which the Supreme Court stated that the federal government has the right to proscribe the use of marijuana (Somin, 2005). In light of this, the patients who were using marijuana as a medicine were also liable to be indicted in that case. They would still face the charges even if their own state has permitted the use of marijuana. But the interesting point to note is that the court did not in unequivocal terms state that it is unconstitutional for the state of California to permit the use of marijuana in medical treatment, neither does the statement by the court state and encourage the patients who are using prescribed marijuana, should be indicted and face the charges brought up against them. The President, Donald Trump, has waged an open war against the use of marijuana, but the state of California is not changing its law.

Every law that is passed has to go through some resistance and friction, and in the case of legalizing marijuana, it has faced a lot of criticism from the states who are yet to legalize it. The excess of everything is not healthy. If marijuana is used as stated by the law, then there would be no need to be wary about it. It can be seen as an alcohol. The excessive use of alcohol is also very dangerous, but there are laws against the excessive use of it. The states that have legalized marijuana have very strict rules regarding its use. Only adults are allowed to use it, and even they are not allowed to smoke in a public places or they are not permitted to smoke and drive. But the main problem is not the legalization of marijuana but the struggle for power that is going on between the federal government and the state government. This issue has shed some light on it, and it needs to be resolved.

Works Cited

Somin, I. (2005). Gonzales v. Raich; Federalism as a Casualty of the War on Drugs. Cornell JL & Pub. Poly15, 507.

Saaty, T. L. (2015). A marijuana legalization model using benefits, opportunities, costs, and risks (BOCR) analysis. International Journal of Strategic Decision Sciences (IJSDS), 6(2), 1–11.

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