Snapshot of U.S. Marijuana Legalization
More people worldwide use cannabis than any other recreational drug, according to the 2018 United Nations World Drug Report.1 In the United States, that number is increasing as many states have legalized the use of medical marijuana.
In 34 states and the District of Columbia, medicinal marijuana is legal. In 11 states, cannabis use is fully legal, meaning that adults can use it recreationally without legal repercussions. Other states have instituted mixed marijuana laws, including some that have decriminalized the drug and some that allow CBD oils, but not smoking or edibles.2
Federal law governing marijuana use involves the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. Marijuana/cannabis is a Schedule I drug like heroin, peyote, ecstasy, methaqualone, and LSD. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Schedule I controlled substances have no acceptable medical use and have a high potential for abuse.3
In 2019, Congress considered, but did not pass, legislation that would change laws prohibiting marijuana, including:
- The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019. This would remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances and allow states to set their own marijuana policy, setting up a 5% tax on marijuana products;
- The Marijuana 1-to-3 Act. Would require the attorney general to move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III. This would make it possible for more federal research of cannabis.
- The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019.
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. World Drug Report 2018. Available at: .
- DISA Global Solutions. Map of marijuana legality by state. Updated December 2019. Available at: .
- Drug Enforcement Administration, Diversion Control Division. Controlled substance schedules. Available at: .
A brief look at what the laws are across the country and what federal legislation is under consideration.
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