Essay on Marijuana Legalization

Submitted By jreynolds3331
Words: 1656
Pages: 7

Marijuana Laws
The topic of whether or not marijuana should be legalized has been debated for years. Today marijuana remains illegal federally, but more and more states are starting to adopt medical marijuana laws. These laws legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. A couple of states, Washington, and Colorado, have gone as far as to enact laws that legalize marijuana for recreational use. These new laws, which conflict directly with federal laws, have brought up many issues as to how they will be enforced and whether or not the federal government will recognize them. We will examine the laws that the state of Washington has passed for the recreational use of marijuana, how they conflict with federal laws, what it means for taxes and health care, and also what it might mean for the future of marijuana laws here in Iowa. In Washington it had been illegal to possess marijuana under the Uniform Controlled Substance Act. Under this act Marijuana is just one of several drugs that falls into the category of a controlled substance. The extent of the regulation of marijuana relies on factors such as the possibility of misuse and the risk of becoming mentally or physically dependent on the drug. Because of these factors associated with marijuana, Washington had classified it as a Schedule 1 drug, which is the most governed type of drug classification1. While laws concerning marijuana in Washington have changed drastically, federal law still prohibits the growing, distributing, and possession of marijuana. Washington’s laws concerning the medical use of marijuana began in 1998 with Initiative 692. Under this new law patients who meet the requirements to be prescribed medical marijuana are safe from state criminal charges2. The qualified patient’s nurse and prescribing doctor are also protected from state criminal charges. This initiative was approved on November 3, 19983. However, Marijuana was legal only for medical use until Washington went a step further in 2011 when Initiative 502 was drafted. Initiative 502 is Washington’s Recreational Marijuana Law. It sets into effect that the production, possession, delivery, distribution, and sale of marijuana will not be a criminal offense under Washington State law. To be a part of the production, processing, or retail sale of marijuana, one must obtain a license from the state. The fees for obtaining any of the three different licenses are the same. The application fee is $250, and the yearly fee for receiving and renewing an approved license is $1000. To avoid causing a monopoly effect on prices, the producer or processor cannot have a direct or indirect monetary entanglement with an appropriately licensed marijuana retailer. To be considered eligible for any of the three licenses, one has to have lived in Washington for at least three months prior to receiving the license. The Washington State Liquor Control Board is responsible for the licensing and taxation of the persons involved in the production process as well as the sale of the marijuana4. At the time Initiative 502 was drafted, the specifics on the amount of taxation and regulation of how much marijuana could be produced in the state were yet to be determined. Eventually, about a year after Initiative 502 had been passed, Washington laid out the specifics as to how marijuana would be taxed and regulated. Washington decided that each of the three steps in marijuana production process from seed to customer would be taxed at a rate of 25%. The three steps are: producer to processor, processor to retailer, and retailer to customer. Government officials hope that even with these tax rates, the price of legal marijuana will remain low enough to discourage potential lawbreakers from relying on black-market sellers. Along with the taxes on marijuana, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has also placed a cap on the amount of legal marijuana to be produced at 80 metric tons per year. The