As of this writing, 18 states have legalized marijuana for adult recreational use. Another 19 have allowed it to be used for medical purposes, and it feels like more and more states are moving in that direction.
But the dark cloud hanging overhead is the federal status of marijuana.
While you won’t get arrested by the police in the “legalized” states, possession of marijuana – even though it’s legal in that state – is still a federal crime. And it’s no secret that the federal status of marijuana is a significant obstacle to many states (like Wisconsin) passing their own legalization laws.
The great news for fans of the herb is that Congress is discussing changes to the federal status of marijuana.
It’s hard to overstate how groundbreaking this is. Marijuana is classified federally as a Schedule I controlled substance, which means that it’s considered to be so dangerous, so addictive, so large of a problem that it’s not only illegal to possess – it’s illegal to even study it for things like medical purposes. And up until now, the federal government has been very hesitant to even have a discussion about it.
All that changed when Cory Booker, Chuck Schumer, and Ron Wyden released a draft of legislation that could change marijuana’s status on the federal level. If brought before Congress and adopted, this legislation would:
- Require somebody to be 21 in order to purchase marijuana
- Study the impact of marijuana legalization on the state level
- Expunge non-violent marijuana convictions on the federal level, and encourage states to do likewise.
- Allow people serving time in federal prison to ask the court for resentencing in light of the new law.
- Provide federal funding to states and localities in order to help cannabis businesses owned by “soci
- Create a federal tax on cannabis products, like they currently do for alcohol and tobacco.
If you’re a legalization advocate, this law isn’t everything on your wish list. The most notable thing is that the federal law wouldn’t prevent states from having more restrictive measures in place. But it’s definitely a huge step in the right direction! And more importantly for Wisconsin residents, it would likely create momentum for legalization in our own state.