Top US lawmakers wants to Federally Legalize! WHAT TO KNOW!
Cannabis legalization or decriminalization (we'll get to the difference in a bit) is one of several issues set to test Democrats' slim majority in Congress, along with a and
At the federal level, cannabis continues to be prohibited across the board, resulting in a legally dubious gray market operating in the 42 states have loosened Marijuana Laws . In contrast, about one third of adults in the US have access to recreational marijuana, thanks to a patchwork of state and local regulations that have legalized or decriminalized the substance to some degree.
Although full-scale, nationwide legalization is likely a ways off, some Washington lawmakers have spoken, they'll soon introduce legislation to start reversing the federal ban on marijuana. The question is, what kinds of changes to cannabis law might happen in the near future?
Without at-least Sixty votes in the Senate, Democratic leaders will most likely have to court Republican lawmakers in order to pass any substantial legislation. (That is, of course, unless Democrats get rid of the legislatively harsh litigation , thus opening the Senate to a simple majority rule, as we'll explain.)
It's still a bit too soon to really be able to predict the future of cannabis in the US, but here's a look at the current landscape as well as a snapshot of what could be in store down the road.
How many states have legalized cannabis sales?
Some form of marijuana is legal in all but 8 states, but there are vast differences in what is and isn't legal among the remaining 42. Here's how it breaks down:
Recreational sales are legal in 15 states plus Washington, DC.
Medical sales of the full flower and its derivatives are legal in 35 states plus Washington, DC.
Medical sales of CBD (low-THC) products are legal in 7 states.
Marijuana is decriminalized in 32 states, including 2 states (Nebraska and North Carolina) where it's otherwise fully illegal (keep reading for what that means).
What's the difference between legalization and decriminalization?
Generally speaking, cannabis "legalization" means passing laws that allow the buying, selling and possession of some amount of marijuana. Those laws can have restrictions surrounding age (usually you must be at least 21 years old) and the amount of marijuana you're allowed to buy, sell or have in your possession at once. But so long as you abide by those laws, you're legally in the clear.
Decriminalization, on the other hand, means that violating certain marijuana laws results in no criminal charges (although breaking some laws might result in fines or other penalties). Marijuana can be legalized without being decriminalized (unlawful possession still carries criminal charges), legalized and decriminalized (unlawful possession does not result in criminal charges) or not legalized but decriminalized (it's illegal, but getting caught carries no jail time or other criminal penalties).
What does federal law say about cannabis?
Marijuana is illegal at the national level per the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, which specifically prohibits the Cannabis sativa L. plant species and any material derived from it (seeds, resin, leaves, etc.). That law was then modified in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which allows for plant material with trace amounts (no more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis) of the primary psychoactive drug, THC (in other words, hemp and CBD products).
What are the arguments in favor of easing cannabis regulations?
In a joint statement published Feb. 1, Democratic Senators Cory Booker, Ron Wyden and Chuck Schumer announced plans for comprehensive cannabis reform legislation. The lawmakers wrote that current laws disproportionately harm people and communities of color and that reform is needed to "ensure restorative justice, protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations."
A 2019 Forbes survey revealed several other reasons why supporters of cannabis reform believe marijuana should be legalized. These were the most popular responses:
Cannabis has medicinal benefits
Law enforcement could focus more on other crimes
Individual freedom and choice
Potential tax revenue
Regulation would make it safer
Don't believe marijuana is harmful
What are the arguments against cannabis reform?
That same Forbes poll also asked people opposed to cannabis reform what their reasons are for wanting to keep marijuana illegal. Their top responses were:
Increased car accidents due to impaired driving
Marijuana is a gateway to harder drugs
More people would use marijuana
Legalization wouldn't benefit society or people
Believe that marijuana is harmful
Believe that drug use is immoral