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Facilitating Action For Civic Thought

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Terminating The Federal Governments War on

Trenton Harvey April 07, 2017

Introduction: Figuring Out the Problem

If one were to look at a timeline of all marijuana legislation in the United States, one would think
that all is well and heading in the right direction. Do not be fooled. Marijuana has come a long way in
terms of legalization and regulation since 1937 when the Marijuana Tax Act was passed, effectively
prohibiting the use of any marijuana or any marijuana products in any way. In a way, the
decriminalization process and road to legalization began back in 1973, when the state of Oregon
decriminalized cannabis and its byproducts. Flash forward to 2017 where cannabis is legalized for both
medical and recreational use in several states, with legislation being proposed in several more. Being
that the legalization processes in full force across the country, it is understandable that most people
think that there is nothing to be worried about.
However, the last thing that we can do as a country is start to relax or ease our minds when it
comes to marijuana. This is because no matter what the laws in your particular state is regarding
marijuana, you are still at risk of being fined or even arrested for the use of recreational cannabis.
The facts are simple, the federal government is raging a war against marijuana, and consequently,
the rights of every state in the union.

Current Laws and Why They Need to Change

In the United States, the current federal laws state that any and all recreational use, regardless of
state law, is illegal and prohibited. As for the laws pertaining to medical marijuana, there are strict
regulations that in the end make getting access to cannabis for medical usage is often a long and difficult

process. These laws began in 1937, when legislation is passed making all use of cannabis prohibited
on a federal level. The next federal legislation that was passed and pertained to marijuana was
in the year 1970, when The Controlled Substance Act was passed. The Controlled Substance Act is nothing
more than a glorified replacement of the previous legislation. The act once again specifically prohibits all
use of cannabis federally and also names other substances that would be prohibited and illegal for usage.
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As for the individual states, the laws and legislations for the usage and distribution of marijuana

are all different. For example, some states have legalized the substance for all
uses, including recreation, while some states legalized it for medical usage, while most states have the
drug completely banned and prohibited.

There are several issues with the current disunity between the states law and the federal laws. In
immediate thought, the issue that comes to mind is the friction between authorities in each area. For
example, though local authorities in a state where recreational use is legal, a federal government agency
(such as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)) can come into the state whenever they want and
immediately assume jurisdiction, allowing them to take control of any situation. When a federal agency
comes in and assumes jurisdiction, it creates a conflict between them and the local authorities, though
there is nothing they can do about it.
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Another, equally as important, point of controversy between the federal and state laws is that the
conflict between the two create a contradictory image of marijuana. With states releasing information
and research to justify their laws, and the federal government doing the same, the public has no clue
which one to believe, resulting in confusion and general unrest. The federal government does not fund
the research for marijuana, resulting in outdated and subpar information that is fed to the general public,
causing misinformation and belief.

For example, the federal government released a study about how the use of marijuana
would increase the amount of deaths and serious injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents as
a result of driving while under the influence of marijuana. Since then, data from states where
the drug is legal says differently. Researchers from Columbia Universitys Mailman School of Public
health found that after passing the medical usage laws, states saw an 11% decrease in
fatal traffic accidents. In addition to the decline in the states fatalities, they also saw a
26% lower rate of fatal car accidents compared to neighboring
states where the medical use of marijuana is not yet legal. The decline in fatalities is seen most in
the age group of 15 to 44 years old, with the age group of highest usage of medical marijuana being 25
to 44, one cant help but see the correlation. Associate Professor Sylvia Martins says that the trend of
declining automobile traffic fatalities can be related to lower levels of alcohol-
impaired driving behavior. Basically, with marijuana being normalized and legalized,
more and more people are turning away from the much more dangerous alcohol.

In addition to the outdated information about how marijuana effects motor vehicle
skills, many people do not know about the copious amount of health benefits that come with
using marijuana. Cannabis and cannabis oil has been used by many cultures for thousands of
years to heal and treat numerous diseases and conditions.
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The federal government is also under a lot of pressure to keep the status quo when it comes to
marijuana laws and legislation. Of the numerous groups and industries that lobby against the legalization
of marijuana, the top of the list is pharmaceutical companies. The pharmaceutical industry pays millions
of dollars per year to lobby lawmakers in the federal government to keep the prohibition of both
recreational and medical marijuana. This is because Big Pharma is a multi-billion-dollar industry that
makes its money off of people spending money on medicine, including opioids. Big pharma lobbys so
heavily against medical marijuana, simply, because they lose money when people have access to it. With
medical marijuana proven to have better healing effects and less side effects than opioids and other pain
killers, people flock to medical cannabis.

Looking at the hard facts and data, it is clear to see evidence of mainly two very frightening

realities. The first being that lawmakers care more about pleasing lobbyists
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than their constituents, and the second being that big pharma cares more
about payday than saving lives.
Another reason to change the federal governments war on marijuana is the amount of tax
revenue that the states get from legalized marijuana. Looking at the states where cannabis has been
legalized, we have seen extraordinary tax revenue. States such as Colorado and Washington have released
data with the tax revenue and what infrastructure projects it is put to, showing an amazing increase in its
local issues. If every state were to legalize and tax marijuana, they would likely be propelled out of any
debt they are in, and even make money to give back to infrastructure issues and its citizens.

Lastly, the federal government is spending YOUR tax dollars to fund their war on marijuana.
Regardless of what your local laws are pertaining to marijuana, the federal government is using your hard
earned money to enforce the outdated prohibition laws. The federal agencies that enforce the marijuana

prohibition need an average of $10.7 billion to carry out raids and other enforcement strategies.
Where do they get that money? Our wallets.
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What Needs to Change

The federal war on marijuana, unfortunately, has no easy solution. The federal government is
composed of chaotic agencies with mountains of red tape that prevent any real change from happening
in a timely and efficient manner. However, we as citizens of both the United States, and the individual
state we live in, need to put a massive amount of pressure on our Senators and Representatives so that
they start to take appropriate action.

The first solution that would effectively end the federal war on marijuana is to, simply, lift the
federal regulations and prohibition on the recreational use and distribution of marijuana and make a

federal lawlegalizing the substance nationwide. Though this is the most extreme
measure, it would certainly work. Fifty-eight percent of Americans are in

favor of the legalization of marijuana , meaning there would be little backlash to

any legislature lifting the ban.

Due to the lack of likelihood of the previous solution occurring, the next best option would be to
reclassify the substance. Under current federal law and the Controlled Substance Act, marijuana is
classified as a Schedule I substance, alongside actual dangerous drugs like Heroin and LSD. Under the
Controlled Substances Act, there are five categories for drugs, Schedule I being the most likely to abuse
and have no medical advantage, both of which has been proven incorrect. The best plan of action would

be to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug, doing so would make

marijuana less of a priority to federal agencies, resulting in a less harsh enforcement.

repeal or amend any

Lastly, an appropriate solution would be to completely

federal legislation that regulates and prohibits marijuana , without

offering a federal replacement. By repealing any federal laws would completely leave the decision up to
the individual states. This would allow the individual states to make their own laws pertaining to the drug,
giving the American people would have a more impactful say on the matter and that decision more
accurately reflecting the states general opinion.

Before any solution can occur, the people in the United States need to make their voices heard.
American citizens need to remember that we are the true leaders of the country, we are the employers

of our Senators and Representatives. If we remind lawmakers that we control their jobs, theyll
listen to us.
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Nov. 2016. Web 07 Apr. 2017. May 2016. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.

Mann, Jenniger. Monthly Washington State

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Business Daily. N.p., 19 Nov. 2014. Web. 07 Apr.

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