How is Marijuana Policy Evolving in the United States?

How is Marijuana Policy Evolving in the United States?

Marijuana remains a complex and evolving subject in the United States, both federally and across various states. Federally, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. This classification indicates a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. Despite this federal status, many states have diverged from federal policy, legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use.

In a significant development, President Biden announced a pardon of all prior federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana. This move represents a shift in federal policy, acknowledging the changing landscape of marijuana use and regulation in the country. The U.S. Department of Justice also updated its marijuana enforcement policy, reflecting the changes in state laws that legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana and regulate its production, processing, and sale.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2021, an estimated 36.4 million individuals aged 12 or older used marijuana in the past. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that marijuana is the most commonly used federally illegal drug in the United States, with approximately 48.2 million people using it in 2019. This widespread use underlines the importance of understanding the potential health effects and benefits of cannabis.

Recent research has estimated that approximately 3 in 10 people who use marijuana may develop a marijuana use disorder, with the risk being higher for those who begin using it before age 18. The CDC emphasizes the need for awareness about the potential health consequences of marijuana use, regardless of its legal status in various states.

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As the United States continues to navigate the complex legal and social implications of marijuana use and regulation, it is crucial to remain informed about ongoing policy changes and their impact on public health and law enforcement.

CRS Reports
Statement from President Biden on Marijuana Reform
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Justice Department Announces Update to Marijuana Enforcement Policy
CDC Data and Statistics
DEA Fact Sheet
Cannabis Use Attitudes and Legal Status in the U.S.: A Review

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