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Policy Brief: Marijuana Policy

Introduction

The American society has been keen to implement superior laws to protect more citizens against some of the illicit drugs, including cannabis, cocaine, amphetamines, and heroin. The nature of policy making processes in this country allows the federal government to retain and promote specific laws while permitting states to pursue their own Constitutions or statutes. Scientists and researchers in the field of addictive substances present divergent opinions and findings that play a significant role in shaping public opinion. These forces have influenced the past and current policies and laws regarding the legality of marijuana and its use for either medical or recreational purposes. The purpose of this paper is to give a detailed analysis of this policy issue, why it matters, and the importance of encouraging more people to be involved.

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Current Status

The marijuana debate is an ongoing policy agenda at all levels of governance in the United States. For instance, the federal government is yet to repeal some of the existing laws criminalizing the possession, use, and even sale of marijuana. The common argument at this level is that cannabis is a serious substance that addicts and capable of supporting criminal activities (Lake & Kerr, 2017). Different researchers have been keen to oppose all emerging ideas and views regarding the effectiveness of this substance in the fields of medicine and psychology. On the other hand, some federalists are trying to propose new strategies and thoughts that could force Congress to enact laws and bills aimed at legalizing marijuana at the national level.

Many states have either implemented or amended some of the laws regarding the use of this substance for medical and recreational purposes. These statutes and policies are allowing more people to acquire and market marijuana in small quantities. Similarly, local agents and licensers have been allowed to monitor the sale and use of marijuana to ensure that it is within the implemented guidelines (Wilson, 2019). Law enforcement officers in different regions are usually involved to support the agenda and allow more people to benefit from its use. These aspects explain why there is a need for more people to be aware of the current status and know how they can act to change the existing federal laws regarding marijuana.

Organizations and Leaders

The identified issue attracts attention of different organizations that can be involved to support the debate and allow Congress to consider new laws that are at par with the present state guidelines. First, medical institutions have a role to play by providing timely ideas and findings that describe how the use of marijuana has supported the health needs of many citizens within the past two decades (“History of marijuana,” n.d.). Second, non-governmental organizations focusing on the rights of Americans and natural rights could offer their views and be engaged in advocacy activities to compel more legislators and policymakers to reconsider the current status regarding marijuana possession and use. Third, institutions of higher learning have the relevant resources that can support decision-making processes by providing timely findings and arguments to address this current debate.

Similarly, American leaders have a unique role to play if Congress is to permit new bills and laws that will eventually support the use of marijuana. For instance, President Trump is influential and capable of influencing his followers in different Houses to make informed decisions and collaborate with other key sectors to solve this issue (Wilson, 2019). Different Senators and Congressmen could take this debate seriously and be involved to present better laws regarding the use and possession of marijuana. Additionally, leaders of nursing associations and criminal justice systems could offer their views regarding the misconceptions about the substance and encourage more policymakers to introduce new bills at the federal level.

Overview of the Past and Current Status

Marijuana remains one of the controlled drugs in the United States due to its addictive nature. However, this country has enacted divergent laws aimed at either permitting or illegalizing the use of the substance in different jurisdictions. In 1973, the Marijuana Tax Act became the first successful law by Congress aimed at criminalizing this drug (“History of marijuana,” n.d.). Within a short period, new reports and studies emerged that revealed that marijuana was not capable of inducing insanity, addiction, or even violence as past scholars had indicated (Bridgeman & Abazia, 2017). From the 1950s, new policies became a reality aimed at setting appropriate sentencing procedures for drug-related offenders.

However, a new path emerged from the 1960s that promoted lenient laws and views regarding the harmful and beneficial effects of this drug (Todd, 2018). The State of California set the stage by enacting Proposition 215 that would allow individuals with various terminal diseases to acquire and use the substance as the best remedy for managing pain (“Federal marijuana,” n.d.). Since 2010, around 16 states in the country have allowed their citizens to use medical marijuana while 9 have allowed it for recreational purposes (Lewis et al., 2015). At the local level, various trends have emerged whereby states that permit the use of marijuana have specific trade associations and consumers who know how to connect, acquire, and seek its benefits. Similarly, medical facilities and health centers have been keen to acquire and include the substance to meet the demands of their patients.

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Local governments and law enforcers continue to collaborate at the local level to regulate the use and sale of the substance outside some of the identified or licensed coffee shops and spaces. However, state and local differences still exist in this country due to the divergent nature of the implemented policies. At the federal level, cannabis remains an illegal and controlled substance in accordance with the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The US government will not differentiate between cannabis for recreational and medical use (“Federal marijuana,” n.d.). Such policies would be applicable to criminals and persons who are found cultivating, marketing, distributing, or in possession of large quantities of this drug.

Successes and Setbacks: Critical Information

The solution to the selected issue depends on the involvement of all key stakeholders and contributions of different persons of influence. Within the past three decades, different states have succeeded in introducing additional policies and statutes that have allowed medical institutions and individual citizens to acquire and use marijuana for pain management. Some have gone further to allow more citizens to open new businesses and market marijuana to those who rely on in for recreational purposes (Todd, 2018). Different scholars and analysts have gone further to present additional findings to support the effectiveness of marijuana as one of the best drugs that has positive implications for medical practice.

Despite these developments and gains, there are specific setbacks that are making the proposed policy outcome a reality. First, the existing federal laws classify Cannabis sativa as Schedule I Substance. Consequently, it becomes impossible for different agencies and researchers to undertake additional studies and research to learn more about the drug, its properties, and potential benefits to different users (Saloner et al., 2015). Second, such a classification makes it hard for different institutions to gain access to desirable quality, type, and quantity of marijuana products that can support research and experimentation processes. This gap makes it impossible for scholars and medical experts to learn more about the possible health challenges and benefits associated with marijuana use.

Third, the problem of funding continues to affect all initiatives and strategies intended to support additional research or encourage more people to be part of the proposed campaign. This financial obstacle makes it impossible for different scholars to explore the effects and beneficial aspects of cannabis use (O’Connor & Lietzan, 2019). Finally, there are unique methodological obstacles that continue to affect the intended studies. For example, the limitedness of the competed studies has made it hard for researches to calculate the right dose that should be available to both the participants and identified patients. Placebo effects have been observed to mess with the acquired results, thereby affecting the manner in which such findings could be applied in real-life situations. Consequently, the US has not succeeded in standardizing or improving the intended research methodologies.

Useful Information

The above analysis has revealed that marijuana is a drug that is yet to become permitted at the national level. Some of the existing gaps and obstacles are intentional and emerge due to the absence of proper guidelines and regulations that make it impossible for analysts to present their findings or acquire adequate quantities to further their studies (Bowling & Glantz, 2019). Consequently, the issue has continued to exist despite the initiatives and developments recorded in various states across the country.

Individuals should, therefore, be aware of various concerns and possibilities if positive gains are to be recorded in this area. For example, the legislation trend recorded in the states means that Congress will be moving closer to marijuana legalization in the future. Additionally, the existing loopholes making additional studies impossible and disallowing individuals from acquiring large quantities are intended to discourage the debate and continue to declassify the substance as harmful (Wilson, 2019). These aspects explain why there is a need for different stakeholders to engage in public debates and activism to compel different leaders to declassify marijuana and permit it for recreational and medicinal use. Such a move is essential since most of the research completed in the past have failed to offer conclusive evidence to support the harmfulness and dangers associated with the substances.

Potential Futures

The nature of this policy agenda is complicated due to the divergent interests of organizations, individuals, and influential leaders. The federal government has continued to identify marijuana as a controlled substance that should not be possessed or transported in large quantities. Since the federal law remains superior, many citizens will have increased chances of being sentenced and imprisoned for its illegal use. Fortunately, the trends and changes experienced in different states indicate that more stakeholders and leaders will be willing to be involved and reconsider the negative and positive impacts of marijuana (Wilson, 2019). The possible outcome is that Congress will succeed in enacting new laws that permit people and professionals to use marijuana for beneficial purposes. Patients with terminal conditions will be able to manage their pains across the country. This kind of permission could support additional studies and ensure that new ideas emerge regarding the possible advantages of marijuana.

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Finally, my classmates could be involved in this civic topic by reading widely to learn more about the current status and offer additional insights to take the debate to the next level. Some could even engage in activism by educating more people about the benefits of marijuana and outline the success stories recorded in different areas, such as behavioral therapy, pain management, and cancer treatment (Bridgeman & Abazia, 2017). They can also engage their leaders and write official letters to different experts in policy implementation and take the debate to the next level. These actions will support the needs of the greatest majority and ensure that they achieve their health and personal goals.

Conclusion

The above discussion has identified marijuana as one of the most controversial and heavily debated drugs in the United States. The analysis has proposed a new approach aimed at legalizing the substance to empower more users and patients. The consideration of the identified barriers will support the agenda and encourage more leaders to address the debate. At the personal level, individuals could be involved by engaging in activism and sensitizing professionals and policymakers about the importance of legalizing marijuana for medicinal and recreational use. These efforts will support this policy issue and meet the demands of more American citizens.

References

Bowling, C. M., & Glantz, S. A. (2019). Conflict of interest provisions in state laws governing medical and adult use of cannabis. American Journal of Public Health: Law & Ethics, 109(3), 423-426. Web.

Bridgeman, M. B., & Abazia, D. T. (2017). Medicinal cannabis: History, pharmacology, and implications for the acute care setting. Pharmacy & Therapeutics, 42(3), 180-188. Web.

Federal marijuana law. (n.d.). 2020, Web.

History of marijuana regulation in America. (n.d.). Web.

Lake, S., & Kerr, T. (2017). The challenges of projecting the public health impacts of marijuana legalization in Canada. International Journal of Health Policy and Management, 6(5), 285-287. Web.

Lewis, N., Broitman, D., & Sznitman, S. (2015). Medical cannabis: A framing analysis of Israeli newspaper coverage. Science Communication, 1(1), 1-28. Web.

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O’Connor, S. M., & Lietzan, E. (2019). The surprising reach of FDA regulation of cannabis, even after descheduling. American University Law Review, 68, 823-925. Web.

Saloner, B., McGinty, E. E., & Barry, C. L. (2015). Policy strategies to reduce youth recreational marijuana use. Pediatrics Perspectives, 135(6), 955-957. Web.

Todd, T. (2018). The benefits of marijuana legalization and regulation. Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law, 23(1), 99-119. Web.

Wilson, P. A. (2019). The heart of community engagement: Practitioner stories from across the globe. Routledge.

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