Legalization of marijuana in four states as well as the District of Columbia reveals America’s changing relationship to the psychoactive plant. Advocates for recreational legalization have long cited the hypocrisy of criminalization (given the damaging effects of legal alcohol), but marijuana’s medicinal benefits are the primary cause for current push back. The Federal Government classifies the plant as a Schedule 1 Drug, the definition of which centers around the claim that a substance has no medicinal effect. This is blatantly unwarranted, given testimony and clinical trials with cancer patients, people with severe muscular sclerosis, and countless other medical conditions.
NORML, which has been fighting for marijuana reform since 1970, sums up on their website the general attitude that is rippling through American society. “Marijuana prohibition causes more problems than it solves, and ruins thousands more lives than it supposedly tries to save.” There are ripple effects from this growing perspective, many that came to light in 2014. A new market for pot products is blossoming, sports leagues are pressured to take a closer look at their weed policies, and state legalization is affecting the operations of Latin American drug cartels.