Will Marijuana Use Become Legal Nationwide?

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The U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage raises some interesting questions about another taboo that is losing its might almost as rapidly. Almost half the states have already enacted legislation making it legal to use marijuana either for medical or recreational purposes. That total is likely to rise next year when seven more states vote on initiatives that would make marijuana use legal. Is there a tipping point approaching where Congress will be forced to act?

Although the Supremes did not say as much in their 5-4 decision on marriage, the fact is that the court was simply putting its imprimatur on a practice that was already legal in more than two-thirds of the states. And while the analogy with legal cannabis is hard to miss, there are some significant differences.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released its 2015 world report on Friday and the data are not entirely friendly to the cause of legalization:

Evidence suggests that more drug users are suffering from cannabis use disorders, and that cannabis may be becoming more harmful, as reflected in the high proportion of persons seeking first-time treatment in several regions of the world.

The UN report is based on 2013 data–the most recent available– and indicates, for example, that the U.S. leads the world in the quantity of herbal marijuana seized by drug enforcement agencies in 2013. The U.S. also leads by a factor of 2 in the eradication of outdoor cannabis plants (more than 4 million) and by a factor of nearly 4 in the eradication of indoor cannabis plants.

The UN also noted a reported increase in cannabis use among high school students from 24.7% in 2012 to 25.8% in 2013, and cited data showing an increasing trend in cannabis-related treatments in the past decade, along with more cannabis-related hospital admissions.

Another concern raised by the UN is the increasing potency of cannabis:

Advances in cannabis plant cultivation techniques and the use of genetically selected strains have led to an increase in the number of cannabis harvests, as well as in the yield and potency of cannabis. The potency of cannabis, commonly measured in terms of the concentration of THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis), has been increasing in many markets over the past decade, leading to growing concern about the potential of cannabis to cause serious health problems.

The point here is that as more states take steps to de-criminalize or legalize marijuana, opponents have some serious arguments against legalization. In the case of same-sex marriage the main argument (and its variations) was that such marriages were not traditional.

In Canada, the country’s Supreme Court recently ruled that medical marijuana patients may now lawfully consume cannabis in all forms. The Minister of Health was not amused:

Frankly, I’m outraged by the Supreme Court. Let’s remember, there’s only one authority in Canada that has the authority and the expertise to make a drug into a medicine and that’s Health Canada. Marijuana has never gone through the regulatory approval process at Health Canada, which of course, requires a rigorous safety review and clinical trials with scientific evidence. We [now] have this message that normalizes a drug where there is no clear clinical evidence that it is, quote-unquote, a medicine.

In the U.S., the states of Nebraska and Oklahoma have filed suit against Colorado to stop the state from allowing commercial growing and distribution of marijuana. Because the case involves a dispute between two states it is heard directly by the U.S. Supreme Court. In early May, the court asked the U.S. Solicitor General to file a brief on the administration’s view of the case, and that should be filed soon.

Colorado is on shaky ground. The challenge has little to do with marijuana per se. Nebraska and Oklahoma are simply asking the Supremes to follow a well-established constitutional principle: when state and federal laws are in conflict, federal law wins. And that does not mean that the administration gets to choose which laws it enforces.

A report from Pew Research in April showed support for marijuana legalization is rising (it’s now 53%, up from 32% in 2005) while opposition is falling (now 44%, down from 60% 10 years ago). Nearly 70% of Millennials support legalization while only 50% of Baby Boomers do. Whether or not marijuana is legalized in the U.S. is not a question of if, but when. The public health and legal arguments against legalization are likely to lead to more skirmishes and battles, but the war over legal marijuana is finished, and it is just a matter of time before politicians get the message.

 

 

source:   247wallst.com/

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