Whether you support the legalization of marijuana use or not, the politics of marijuana is a source of constant controversy! Forbes, Time magazine and the National Review have all featured marijuana leaves on their covers. Both the Marijuana Policy Project and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana have thousands of members. It is estimated that well over 100 million Americans have smoked weed at least once in their lifetime and polls suggest that over 70% of Americans support the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes. At the same time, groups such as Mothers against Drugs and Partnership for a Drug-Free America lobby against any legalization. Both sides invoke moral arguments to defend their chosen view, while still others base evaluations on 'costs as opposed to the benefits of control' comparisons.
The debate about the use of marijuana, especially for medical purposes has always been of a political nature. While the Federal Government forbids the use of marijuana, including for medical purposes, at least eighteen states and Washington, D.C. support the legal medical use of cannabis. The U.S. court system has handed down rulings over several decades with some judicial rulings sharing the Federal Government's opinion, and other judicial rulings supporting the legalization of medical marijuana. The larger public opinion has always favored the legalization as reflected in the polls, but legislation and federal politics have yet to reflect this reality. Much will depend on how the scientific community can demonstrate through studies and research the advantages of medical marijuana use in treating various conditions. Corporate America will also want to weigh in on a market that has yet to be fully developed and profitable.
The future of legalized marijuana will depend on three key factors. Undoubtedly, the most influential will be what science can demonstrate, however together with that, there will need to be widespread political and social acceptance. Pertinent legislation will follow indicating what role legalized marijuana may play in American society.