On January 1, 2018, California became the latest state to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana. Although legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia for recreational or medicinal use, the federal government still classifies marijuana as a “Schedule I controlled substance,” and it is, therefore, a federal crime to possess, buy, or sell cannabis. This means that there are still many roadblocks that could prevent dispensaries from freely and easily selling marijuana and federal agents can still arrest those in possession of the drug, even if it is legal in that particular state.
One side of the debate believes that the legalization of marijuana would lower the number of people, historically poor and minorities, in jail for what they see as a “victimless crime.” For those on this side, the legalization of marijuana is a criminal justice issue. These advocates also maintain that legalization would reduce the proliferation of the sale of cannabis on the black market.
Those in favor of keeping marijuana illegal on the federal level believe that it is an issue of public safety. They maintain that legalization will lead to more accidents on our highways, and more crime in general. They also regard cannabis as a “gateway” drug that can lead people to addiction to more lethal substances.
What do you think? Should the federal government legalize marijuana?