Cannabis Prohibition (Recap!)
In our previous post in this 3 part micro blog series, Cannabis Prohibition and Legislation, we discussed cannabis’ complicated history throughout the United States. Before this country was founded, pre-colonials utilized hemp (from the cannabis plant) to build their sails or make their clothing; it was a valuable cash-crop during that time period. Fast forward to the 1930’s and this terrific plant’s reputation was torn apart by racially-motivated fear mongering and propaganda. Our federal government outlawed cannabis in 1970 with the enactment of the Controlled Substance Act – this act classifies cannabis as a “Schedule I” drug, in addition to cocaine and heroin, that tates that it has highly addictive potential with little to no medical benefit.
As research continues to debunk many of the previous biases held against cannabis, states began to alter current legislation, some even legalizing it for both recreational and medicinal purposes.
In this second part in this micro-blog series, we’re going to explore current legislation and discuss how Americans as a collective are changing their minds about this incredible plant!
Legislation and Reform:
As of February of 2022, surveys indicate roughly 68% of the population is in support of legalizing cannabis. A study performed by the Pew Research Center showed that support has nearly doubled between 2000 and 2019.
As for our federal government, it remains a literal house divided; 72% of Democratic/leaning officials are in support of legalizing cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes against the minority 23% vote of legalization for medical purposes only. For our Republican/leaning officials, only 40% are in support of legalizing it for medical and recreational purposes. This division within our House is one of the reasons pro-cannabis legislation is often stalled or prohibited from becoming law.
One of the most favorable acts toward cannabis reformation happened in December of 2020. Our U.S. House of Representatives weighed in on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act (MORE) by a favorable 228-164 vote; this is exciting! This is the first time Congress has ever voted favorably on a bill that could end cannabis prohibition; if enacted; it would effectively remove cannabis from the list of controlled substances and end all penalties under criminal law.
As of February 2022, The Hemp Advancement Act was also introduced to Congress- it essentially builds off of the Farm Act of 2018 by promoting the production of hemp-based products.
This terrific plant is making quite the comeback! 37 states and four territories have legalized cannabis for medical purposes. Out of those 37 states, 18 and two territories have legalized it for both medical and recreational use. In addition to that, 11 states have also allowed the use of CBD, cannabidiol, products that have less than 0.3% THC content (per dry weight.)
Check This Out!
Below is a handy-dandy reference chart! This chart showcases where cannabis is legal medically and/or recreationally and where CBD (low THC) products are also legal!
Federal vs State: We’re Making Headway
At the federal-level, cannabis is still considered a “Schedule I” substance by The Controlled Substance Act which was enacted in 1970. In addition to the promising feats we’ve made as a country to legalize it (at some states’ level, at least) we’re also making headway to decriminalize cannabis, as well. The goal in decriminalizing cannabis is to impose lesser punishments, often in opposition to jail time, at least for the first offense. 32 states have enacted such laws opposing jail time for residents caught possessing small amounts of cannabis.
Even though we are making strong progress to decriminalize cannabis, our current incarceration numbers are staggering: it’s estimated that someone is arrested for marijuana nearly every 58 seconds. Roughly 90% of those arrests are possession-based offenses without intent to sell or distribute.
18 states and 2 territories have legalized cannabis for adults over 21 years of age and as of February of 2022, 13 states have removed jail time as a penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana; there are mitigating circumstances to this, but overall this is a great step forward to encouraging other states to implement similar policies!
Cannabis Prohibition and Legislation: Cannabis Advocacy
In this last section in this micro-blog series, Cannabis Advocacy, we’re going to talk about the current processes in place that are actively trying to put an end to cannabis prohibition! We’re going to provide additional educational resources and discuss what it means to become an advocate for cannabis. The first, and more important step in becoming a cannabis advocate is to educate yourself: you’re already well on your way!