The debate over the legalization of marijuana, or cannabis, is raging throughout America. Polling shows that opinions on marijuana have shifted. For the first time, more than half of Americans (58%) now support legalization.
The federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. This means the drug has a high potential for abuse, is unsafe, and has no currently accepted medical use. However research shows that marijuana does not fit into this classification, particularly because of the proven medical benefits.
While the federal government has a firm, yet misclassified, position as to why marijuana is illegal, states are asserting their rights by passing legislation allowing for its use for medical and sometimes recreational purposes.
The states of Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. There are currently twenty states, and the District of Columbia, that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. This debate has now made its way to Georgia.
A bill currently sits before the Georgia State Senate that would allow for medical marijuana to be used by state-sanctioned university research centers for three specific medical purposes: childhood seizures, glaucoma, and cancer.
We must wonder why state legislatures get to decide which medical purposes marijuana can be used for, rather than allowing the medical community to freely decide the appropriate application of medicinal marijuana.
Furthermore, the federal classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance needs to be changed, as it is untruthful. Resources used to crack down on marijuana could also be put to better use growing our economy.
As a society we must ask ourselves why we are so afraid to decriminalize marijuana. Is it even the government’s role to dictate our behavior, particularly our private behavior, when it comes to marijuana? We seem to be inconsistent in our societal acceptance of some “sins” but not others, and the tension between federal and state laws as they relate to marijuana will eventually come to a head.
Text of Legislation (HB 885)
Gallup: For First Time, Americans Favor Legalizing Marijuana
PPP Survey: Public Support for Marijuana Law Reform in Georgia
White House: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Marijuana
Office of National Drug Control Policy: Fact Sheet
ACLU: The War on Marijuana in Black and White: Report
ProCon: Medical Marijuana Legislation