Last week, I blogged about the DEA’s decision not to change the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance. While the decisions seems to me absurd, not all of the news in this area is bad. In fact, the movement to legalize marijuana under varying circumstances has never been stronger.
It should not be all that surprising that the DEA – a government agency charged with the mission of enforcing the drug laws – should be so unsympathetic and hostile to the benefits of one of the drugs they regulate. After all, they would be in essence admitting significant error if they acknowledged that marijuana had important benefits. Of course, less understandable is why Congress and the executive assign this task to the DEA. Still, the point here is that who makes the decision is important in a political system.
One of the virtues of the American system is federalism. While the federal government has been very hostile to marijuana for years, decisions in the U.S. are not only made at the national level. Thus, the federal government may continue to be strongly against marijuana, while at the state level there is growing support for permitting it under certain circumstances.
The number of states allowing medical marijuana (25) has been expanding as has the number of states allowing recreational use (4). In 2016, 4 additional states will decide on whether to legalize recreational use of marijuana and another 5 states will decide on medical marijuana.