What is the Current Federal Status of Marijuana in the United States?

Marijuana remains a contentious subject in the United States, especially regarding its legal status and public health implications. At the federal level, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. This classification indicates a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. Despite this, many states have diverged from federal policy, legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use.

In a significant development, President Biden announced a pardon for all prior federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana. This move is a step towards addressing the discrepancies between federal and state laws regarding marijuana use and possession. The President’s decision reflects an evolving perspective on marijuana policy in the country.

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, weed, pot, or dope, is a mind-altering psychoactive drug. It consists of a dry, shredded green/brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves from the cannabis sativa plant. THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main ingredient that produces the psychoactive effect, and marijuana is known to be addictive. The cannabis plant contains more than 100 compounds, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is impairing, and cannabidiol (CBD), which is not.

Despite some states legalizing marijuana for medical or nonmedical adult use, it remains illegal under federal law, except for products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or those approved by the FDA. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers are required to report any suspected violations of this law.

Public health concerns remain paramount, as marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2021, an estimated 36.4 million individuals aged 12 or older used marijuana. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to research and address the public health implications of marijuana use to better understand its impact.

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For more detailed information on the federal status of marijuana and state policies, refer to the following sources:

CRS Reports
President Biden’s Statement on Marijuana Reform
DEA’s Drug Fact Sheet on Marijuana/Cannabis
CDC’s Information on Marijuana
Current Federal Status of Marijuana in the United States

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