It’s incredible how there’s more public support for legalizing weed and marijuana reforms throughout the county than ever before. If you looked at any pools carried out in the past few years, you could not miss the ever-growing trend as over half of the United States is in favor of legalizing weed. The writing is on the wall. It’s now just a matter of time before the federal legalization of weed becomes a reality.
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Already, many corporations and groups believe that the wonder drug is removed from the criminal legal system. The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is one such group that believes marijuana should be regulated for adult use, with community investment, equity, and social justice at the core instead of labeling it illegal.
The country as we know it is nearing a tipping point on marijuana legalization. It’s now just a matter of time before all states advocate for its legalization and use.
What’s the Difference Between Legalization and Decriminalization?
For this post, it is vital to define the specific marijuana policies that will likely impact its possession, farming, sale, and use in terms of their legal definitions. And the two main marijuana policies we will discuss here are legalization and decriminalization.
Generally, establishing clear definitions for legalized and decriminalized states isn’t merely a semantic exercise. Instead, it will help you to understand better the different mechanisms by which the federal government and other policymakers and enforcers influence the drug’s use. This includes possible changes in perceptions of social disapproval, production methods and costs, and product availability and variety changes.
This policy was first defined in the 1972 Shaffer Commission. Decriminalization describes policies that don’t define marijuana possession for personal use or casual distribution as a criminal offense, far from it.
The Shaffer Commission explicitly stated policies that lowered the penalties of marijuana possession and used without removing its criminal status.
This distinction between policies lowered the penalties that people in possession of marijuana faced. Unfortunately, not many people understand what decriminalization is or how to evaluate its policies. States that have decriminalized marijuana merely reduced penalties associated with the drug’s possession and use.
On the other hand, legalization removes all monetary and criminal penalties imposed for the possession, supply, and use of weed for recreational purposes. This is what most Americans, politicians, and states are advocating for. That’s where the “federal legalization of weed” phrase comes into play.
The November 2012 ballot initiative that voters passed in Washington and Colorado marked the first time a jurisdiction legally regulated weed.
To date, research is still ongoing regarding the consequences of legalizing the drug. However, the effects on its prevalent use and related use disorders depend largely on specific state-level regulations and how those states have adopted the federal government’s stand.
Federal Legalization of Weed: The Marijuana Legalization Process
Although federal law prohibits the use and distribution of weed in the U.S., the past five decades have a rise in its liberation policies and clinical experiments. At this point, we can all assume that nationwide marijuana legalization is more of a matter of when not if.
There’s a massive shift in the marijuana industry and state and federal policies as well. You can imagine that only a decade ago, no state allowed marijuana use for recreational purposes, with the first states legalizing it (Washington and Colorado) doing so in 2012. And the process was through voter-driven initiatives.
Today, over 17 states have legalized weed (even though Washington doesn’t yet allow its sale). Another five states where it is legalized enacted their laws through legislatures. Even our typically cautious politicians are pushing for its legalization and embracing its use for recreation purposes.
Just recently, Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority leader, spoke on his preparedness to carry forward by introducing a bill to legalize marijuana for a first-ever Senate vote at the federal level. Should this push through, we could see the federal legalization of weed throughout the United States sooner than we imagined.
A federal legalization state vote would be a significant leap with the help of Schumer, who insists on carrying forward with this initiative with or without support from the president of the United States, Joe Biden.
If you crunch the numbers, it’s evident that the push for the federal legalization of weed will continue to garner even more support from both the public and politicians.
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How Many States Have Legalized Cannabis Sales?
Most people opposed to marijuana use claim it poses a public health and safety risk. Other opponents are just morally against legalizing the drug.
However, people advocating for the federal legalization of weed argue that it’s not as dangerous as alcohol or most other drugs that are legalized for use. Another point of evidence for legalizing cannabis is its therapeutic effects like pain and stress relief.
Weed advocates also look at legalization as a money maker and financial advantage for states. You find that stat states where marijuana is legal are retroactively addressing the consequences of its prohibition, often citing provisions allowing for expungement.
So, without getting into much detail, here are the states that have legalized marijuana use:
- Washington D.C.
- New Jersey
- New York
- South Dakota
Possible Reasons for Federal Legalization of Weed 2021
You’ve probably heard of one or more benefits and reasons to use weed, especially for medical reasons. Some of these benefits have helped drive policies observed by the federal and state governments and other reservations about the drug.
Some equally essential pointers include the rising state budgetary costs associated with incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders for purchasing, possessing, or using weed.
There’s growing scientific evidence showing the therapeutic benefits of cannabis and its compounds. The strained state budgets also force legislatures to consider new tax revenue sources, including the push for federal legalization of weed for recreational use.
Over time, these tremendous policy variations will give researchers and policymakers amply opportunities to assess the effect of weed liberalization policies and their relation to various health, financial, and social outcomes.
However, clinical studies and research on weed have been slow to develop, with what we know so far providing somewhat mixed and largely insignificant findings.
Indeed, recent surveys and data collection firms in people’s attitudes about weed continue to show an undeniable shift in favor of legalization.
What Does Federal Law Say About Marijuana?
The legislative push for federal legalization of weed is at an all-time high. This move is now even more likely with the senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, promising to head the campaign with or without the president’s support.
It’s now just a matter of time before the Senate votes on legalizing weed and pushes for new marijuana reforms.
Both decriminalizing and de-scheduling marijuana fall short of the complete legalization reforms most people are advocating for, but they are still useful and welcome steps. The state-level legalization process has thus far been a huge success, with no adverse consequences. But what’s even more noticeable is the significant tax revenue generation the legalization reforms promise.
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The facts: Passing comprehensive weed reforms will require bipartisan cooperation. President Biden may also be another hurdle as his administration has shown reluctance to embrace federal legalization of weed.
Thus far, only the states have been doing the heavy lifting. The federal legalization process would allow states to pursue even more reforms and policies absent of the federal crackdown threats.
Realistically, these bills may be taking longer than most people anticipated to be introduced, but there’s still light at the end of the tunnel. You can be optimistic that this session will witness some substantial reforms.
Do you want to learn more about the federal legalization of weed and other interesting topics? MMJ Doctor offers the best cannabis advice from qualified professionals. We will also help you to apply for an online medical marijuana card.