For four and a half decades, the United States has fought and spent billions on the “War on Drugs.” Most recently, cannabis (marijuana, weed, THC) has been the focal point of this costly war. Since 1996, twenty-three states, with California being the first, have legalized cannabis for personal, medicinal, and recreational usage (Caplan 131). However, controversy over this not-so-new public enemy remains because it is still illegal under federal law. The War on Drugs is one without end. Advocates of marijuana prohibition believe it discourages crime and trafficking of the drug, while increasing overall productivity and health. Critics maintain it only has minimal effects on crime, trafficking and usage (Miron 2). Any substance consumed in excess can be detrimental to one’s health. Perhaps legalization and regulation rather than prohibition is the answer to the polemic topic of cannabis.
When an individual is restricted from indulging in an act or product that they enjoy, means of finding ways around the restrictions imposed will be their main priority. This can be seen in the Volstead Act, also known as the National Prohibition Act, which was passed on October 18, 1919. The Volstead Act outlawed the transport, sale, and production of alcohol. Before prohibition, alcohol was a thriving and taxed legal business in high demand. Similar to marijuana, alcohol, could be obtained with a prescription during that time and used strictly for medicinal purposes. At first, the “moral crusade” (Woodwiss 9) America was undergoing appeared to be working, as there was a decrease in the consumption of alcohol. However, half way through the era, the black market created by the prohibition movement elevated crime rates and in...
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...nd ecstasy. This is where state and federal laws collide with one another. Retail establishments that sell and grow “pot” are essentially breaking federal law, even though they are legitimate businesses licensed by the state. Douglas Hiatt, a criminal defense attorney and cannabis activist told “Time” magazine “Nothing is legal under I-502. They can still put you in prison for having it. They can still put you in prison for growing it. And they can still come after you for selling it.” The I-502 (Initiative 502) was the ballot Capitol Hill passed for the legalization of recreational usage of marijuana, with Colorado having a similar ballot known as Amendment 64. Even so, with these new laws in place permitting the growth and sale of marijuana, federal law supersedes that of the state, giving authorities the discretion to “crackdown” anytime on pot merchants and users
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