The war on marijuana began in the 1960s and culminated in the Drug Abuse and Prevention Act of 1970 signed by Richard Nixon. Today the drug remains a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin, cocaine and LSD, pursuant to the federal Controlled Substances Act. Of course, the perception of the drug has changed over time.
California was the first state to adopt legislation decriminalizing and allowing the use of medical marijuana use by the passage of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. Even now, pursuant to the Rohrabacher–Farr Amendment, the U.S. Justice Department is not permitted to interfere with the state’s adoption of medical marijuana programs.
While there were certainly other failed attempts at passing sweeping decriminalization federal legislation in the past, most recently by Sen. Bernie Sanders, on August 1, 2017, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D – NJ) introduced a Bill titled The Marijuana Justice Act of 2017 aimed at removing “marihuana” and “tetrahydrocannabinols” from the Control Substances Act. This would subsequently remove marijuana from the purview of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and allow states to set their own policies. Here is a link to a summary of the Bill and its application. The fate of The Marijuana Justice Act is uncertain. However, now that more than 70 percent of Americans have access to legal marijuana, the negative stereotype associated with the drug is diminishing. In fact, it was recently reported that the U.S. retail marijuana market has grown to $6 billion. Some things to note:
-While there are few studies to back the abundant anecdotal evidence, cannabis is a very effective medicine for several severe, chronic, and intractable diseases and conditions and patients like it because it does not have the side effects of traditional narcotics.
-Institutions are developing programs to introduce the use of MMJ to treat opioid addicts.
-Once against the use of MMJ, the Cleveland Clinic is now evaluating the vast possibilities of using the drug in tandem with traditional western medicine.
-Dispensaries could become as prevalent as liquor stores and see the same craft brew craze experience with beer — think microbreweries for marijuana.
-Celebrity branding is already happening with products by Willie Nelson and Bob Marley.