Making Marijuana Legal
In 1970, Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act, which listed marijuana as a Schedule I drug which made it illegal to manufacture, distribute or possess marijuana in the United States, according to the federal government. However in August 2013, the U.S. Justice Department said it wouldn’t challenge Colorado or other states with laws legalizing recreational marijuana. Instead, federal officials decided to focus on stopping drug trafficking and keeping marijuana away from children.
In other words, states are effectively free to ignore the federal ban. So what happens if you’re caught with marijuana varies on where you are. Private possession of up to 1 ounce carries no penalty in Colorado, and growing up to six marijuana plants (with no more than three being mature) at home is perfectly legal for someone 21 or older.
As of April 2015, twentythree us states and the District of Columbia currently have specific laws legalizing marijuana in some aspect.
Four states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. In Alaska, adults 21 and older can now transport, buy or possess up to an ounce of marijuana and six plants. Oregon voters approved a similar measure allowing adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana in public and 8 ounces in their homes, set to take effect July 1.
Most recently, a measure approved by voters went into effect in the District of Columbia that legalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana.Colorado and Washington previously passed similar ballot measures legalizing marijuana in 2012.
Other states have passed medical marijuana laws allowing for limited use of cannabis. Some medical marijuana laws are more encompassing than others, with types of medical conditions that allow for treatment varying from state to state.
In some states, criminal penalties have been completely eliminated for small amounts of marijuana.