Medical cannabis has been on a roll. The “Green Rush” as some are calling it, seems to be unstoppable. Entrepreneurs, average citizens, patients, and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are increasingly supporting legalization.
As of April 2014, 21 U.S. states and Washington DC have allowed for the use of medical cannabis. In the 2012 general election both Colorado and Washington took it a step further, allowing for legal recreational use of cannabis for adults 21 and over.
Other states facing budget deficits are watching the rollout of these programs closely, in order to see if the model will take off, or backfire. So far the sky hasn’t fallen in Colorado. Untapped tax revenues and new jobs from a burgeoning industry may be just what the doctor ordered for troubled states in such a tepid economy.
In Colorado recreational sales have a hefty 25% state tax in addition to the normal state sales tax of 2.9%. This is projected to bring in $67 million a year, with $27.5 million earmarked for building schools. Not exactly pocket change.
It is hard to predict which states will be next in line to pass legal cannabis laws. Alaska, Arizona, California, and Hawaii seem to be prime candidates and it is possible that by 2016 even states like Massachusetts will have enacted recreational cannabis laws. It is estimated that nearly 100 million Americans have used the drug, despite its legal status.
A recent poll showed that 51 percent of Americans support full legalization. A Gallup poll in 2013 had 58 percent of Americans in favor, which is the first time in U.S. history a majority has supported full legalization.
Despite the obvious progress being made on the state level, cannabis has been illegal on the federal level ever since the passage of the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act of 1937.
The federal government defines cannabis as a Schedule I Drug “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”. It is hard to argue that the plant is as harmful as heroin, LSD, or ecstasy, which are also classified alongside cannabis as Schedule I Drugs.
And it should be impossible for the federal government to argue this, based on the fact that the federal government was the first to file a patent in 2003 for the medical use of cannabinoids (chemicals found in cannabis such as THC & CBD).
Yep. US Patent 6630507 titled “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants” is assigned to The United States of America (Department of Health and Human Services).
As shocking as this may be, cannabis prohibition is built on hypocrisies such as this. There are many reasons why we find ourselves in this untenable legal situation, and for anyone interested in delving into the history of cannabis and its prohibition, you should read: Smoke Signals: A Social History of cannabis — Medical, Recreational and Scientific by Martin A. Lee. If you ever read one book on the topic, this should be it.