Marijuana laws are complicated. The war on drugs has always been political. In many cases, the laws are quite literally willfully designed to even be complicated and unfair.
At their core, marijuana laws and regulations can be thought of as the place where relatively quickly changing state law with slow-moving federal regulation. Today, we’re going to try and outline exactly how this might affect you so you can be sure to stay on the right side of the law!
The War on Pot
An entire book could be written on the war on drugs and its motivations, but we will keep it simple. Many modern misconceptions about the dangers of drugs are based on political or racial motivations. (While it won’t be the focus of this article, we encourage reading up on the origin of modern drug laws.)
Marijuana was more or less made illegal on a federal level in 1937 thanks to a man named Harry Anslinger. This ban was then further strengthened in the 80s. The drug soon was virtually impossible to legally obtain in almost any capacity within the United States.
For a while, this remained the status quo. Marijuana was made a Schedule I substance, meaning the federal government claims it has no accepted use and a high potential for abuse, on par with heroin. It remains in this position today, despite overwhelming evidence that this classification, as defined, is inaccurate.
However, public opinion has begun pretty heavily swinging against these regulations. Additionally, there’s never been much evidence marijuana is especially dangerous. While undeniably a drug, it isn’t as dangerous as efforts by Anslinger attempted to plant into the public consciousness and there is significant medical evidence it can be useful in the treatment of at least some medical conditions.
State Legalization & Medicinal Use
This is where complexity enters the picture. Federally, marijuana is considered dangerous and essentially banned. However, even federally the regulations on the matter seem to have trended towards being more lax, at least compared to the draconian regulations of the past.
Most states have begun to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. However, Idaho, South Dakota, Kansas, and Nebraska have held out, with marijuana in any capacity still illegal in these states. This is also true of American Samoa.
Even then, you should research your own state’s specific laws, as the minutia can paint a different picture than the broad statement above. In some states, even medicinal marijuana use will be highly regulated.
For example, if one discounts CBD/Low THC allowances, the list of states that allow medicinal (or recreational) marijuana use is much lower.
If you genuinely believe you could medically benefit from the use of marijuana, discuss that fact with your doctor. Not only will the discussion be confidential but it also isn’t illegal to ask about whether it’d be a good option for you, even if your state’s regulations are strict or completely ban the substance.
A doctor can help you understand your options and will be necessary if you are to be prescribed medicinal marijuana.
State Legalization & Recreational Use
While the medicinal use of marijuana has become a norm, the issue of recreational use has proven more controversial. As a general rule, states and territories that allow its recreational use treat it much like alcohol, with only adults being able to legally use it and with certain activities, like driving, still illegal while under the influence of the drug.
The states that currently allow recreational marijuana use include:
It is generally illegal to bring recreational pot over the border into states without recreational marijuana laws. Be sure to research the regulations of all states involved if you intend to travel outside of a recreational use state. Many states, such as Ohio, which borders Michigan, have been on the lookout for people crossing the border for drugs.
Potential Future Changes to Marijuana Laws
For the 2020 election, many states have questions related to marijuana regulations on their ballots. For example, New Jersey will be asking about whether citizens would like an amendment allowing for recreational use.
The outcome of polls could potentially determine which states will see recreational use in the near future. Likewise, liberal politicians tend to view medicinal, and recreational marijuana use more favorably than conservatives. For this reason, election results, in general, may also change the likelihood a state changes its marijuana laws.
This said, federal regulators have fought states allowing marijuana use at various times in the past. As recently as 2018, there have been at least moderate attempts to slow or stop the spread of marijuana medicinal use, recreational use, and just general deregulating.
We recommend you try to keep informed about your state’s current regulations. Drug laws, especially marijuana laws, are always evolving.
What’s illegal one day may well not be tomorrow but what is legal today could also change if certain people in power decide to put more strict regulations and policies in place.
If you’ve run afoul of any of the marijuana laws and regulations discussed above (or if someone is claiming you have), you’re going to want legal counsel. Fair or not, drug charges can be quite serious and often carry steep penalties, especially for repeat offenders.
With attorneys available in all 50 states, there are sites that can help you get connected with a lawyer who can help you. Just click the link and contact a lawyer in your state!
More Info on Legal Highs
That’s the basic rundown of marijuana laws as they stand today. If you liked this article, our blog is full of a ton more information about getting high legally. We cover everything from pot, meditation, and more!
Remember if you intend to get high to do your research! Legal penalties can sometimes be steep and drugs can often have side effects that aren’t immediately obvious. You should especially be careful if you have any health problems you need to consider.