CJA 301- Criminal Justice Administration
Module 1 Case Study
Professor: Teresa Knox
Date due: 10/21/2013
Should the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes be left up to the individual states or should it be controlled at the federal level?
I believe the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes should be left up to individual states, because marijuana seems to not pose significant danger to those who use it or those around them. In my opinion, the significant danger of Marijuana use can be similar to the use of alcohol. One of the main arguments against the use of Marijuana, was that it is still considered to be a “gateway drug". Many states have made the use of cannabis legal for medical use. The problem is that federal law still has yet to change its stance on making Marijuana legal. Marijuana is still an illegal narcotic, because federal laws trump state laws. I believe Marijuana should stay a controlled substance, and should be only available for medicinal use. Marijuana still has yet to break the barriers of social acceptance in the United States, because of how it is portrayed as a stepping stone to heroine and other controlled substances. When my grandparents were young, hemp was being used for many things such as rope and industrial uses. Marijuana was also prescribed by physicians and sold openly in drug stores. This really began to change with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. The Act did not in itself criminalize the possession or usage of hemp, marijuana, or cannabis, but levied a tax equaling roughly one dollar on anyone who dealt commercially in cannabis, hemp, or marijuana. There were many faulty testimonies during the debate on this legislation. Some testimonies tried to make it seem as if cannabis caused “murder, insanity and death” (boulderweekly.com, Thursday, October 31, 2013). The American Medical Association protested the law because it affected medical use, and further because they were not finding that the claims about marijuana were true. Also note that during the majority of the first half of the century, marijuana was generally believed to be a narcotic, which was on the same levels as cocaine and opium. Eventually, the Supreme Court, in 1969, ruled the MTA of 1937 unconstitutional, and Congress responded by passing the Controlled Substances Act as Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, which repealed the Marihuana Tax Act (U.S. Food and Drug Administration: 10/27/2013). However, legislation in the 1950′s made selling or distribution of hemp materials carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 2-10 years and $20k. Then Nixon formed the DEA, the Supreme Court deemed it reasonable to give a hemp dealer 20 years, Reagan offered the War on Drugs and the three strike rule. Those are some quick highlights of legislation around marijuana, as it would take an entire article to cover it all. Marijuana was made illegal in the first place by the use of false claims about its effects, make-up, and dependency rates. And I personally don’t believe that it was because people were simply uninformed. I grew up in a family that was strict against the use of marijuana. This was mainly because of the media attention and how society as a whole viewed its use. There are quoted empirical studies that show the negative aspect of marijuana use. As pointed out by the FDA press office and SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), cannabis smokers demonstrate pathological effects of cannabis smoking on physical and especially mental health as well as its interference with social and occupational functioning. Basically, cannabis is can and should be put in the same category as alcohol. This is however one of the smaller issues currently. The larger problem is the federal government’s decision to