The legalization of medical marijuana is a current policy issue that has caused much tension between the different levels of government, as well as between the state and local agencies. This public policy has caused much conflict because of the various aspects of it such as legalization for medical use, the decriminalization of marijuana; and the many discrepancies that it has between federal and state laws. Legalization of medical marijuana has many pros and cons that have been brought to light by many different branches of the government, however, the issue of federalism is extremely prevalent.
The issue of legalizing medical marijuana was brought on because of the various medical and recreational benefits that it claims to offer, as well as financial benefits the government would receive through taxes. The policy would include decriminalization of marijuana, and the legalization for medicinal use as prescribed by a physician. Changing the federal government’s policies on medical marijuana is thought to be an effective treatment for a variety of terminal illnesses, will help people from being criminalized for using a substance that is being used as a medication, and the government regulating the growth and sale of marijuana will allow these patients a safe and legal access to cannabis (MPP, 2014).
As of current, federal and state laws make it a crime to use, grow, sell, or possess marijuana for recreational use (FindLaw, 2013). However, with much conflict twenty-three states have enacted medical marijuana laws which legalizes it within the state. This is extremely controversial considering it is still illegal under federal law and you can still be prosecuted at the full extent of the law for possessing marijuana even if it is legal in your state. Many of the state medical marijuana laws are meant to allow for state-based production and distribution; but this can cause a lot of cross conflict between nearby states with different variations in law (WhiteHouse, 2014).
The pros and cons of legalizing medical marijuana vary greatly, especially between states and experts. The main pros in the argument is the medicinal benefits that marijuana has to offer such as relief of nausea and vomiting, pain relief, and it is believed to be safer than prescription medications (Welsh, 2014). There are also huge tax benefits that procreate through the distribution and sale of marijuana which could be used to benefit other needed area such as in education, health care, or public transportation. The cons to legalizing medical marijuana is that it could portray the message to young people that drugs are okay, marijuana is considered a gateway drug (which could lead to harder drugs), and that any State can’t be involved in the distribution of something that the majority of the population finds immoral.
The policy I would consider to be extremely effective because of the health benefits it produces for American people, and the tax benefits it revenues which contributes to society as a whole. Effectiveness should be defined using the utilitarian theories of producing the best result for the greatest number of people, which medical marijuana has shown to be successful. I believe effectiveness should be measured in number of ailments cured or alleviated by medicinal marijuana use, and the amount of tax revenue that is brought in compared to previous tax years. The legalization of medical marijuana is not consistent with the constitutional framework of federalism because of the many discrepancies it brings out between the federal and state governments. American federalism’s constitutional framework was brought upon to have these separate government entities work together to act in union and disperse power between them, but if they are not in agreement about is legal or not – the whole aspect of federalism is gone.
Congress has undisputed power to regulate individuals within a state, even if it creates rights or duties contrary to that state’s laws (Schwartz, 2013. P.569). This causes a huge upheaval for people who are enforces of the law because it leaves them in a position where they do not know what to do, for example; if they pull someone over that has medical marijuana that is legal in their state but it is still illegal in the federal law, do they take them to jail? Federalism has failed in this sense, because the usage of medicinal marijuana is prohibited by the federal government, yet encouraged by state governments through their systems of regulation and taxation (Grabarsky, 2013).
The legalization of medicinal marijuana has many different aspects that it has brought to the table regarding the legality and usage of it. It has shown many different pros and cons to the debate regarding usage of it, with 1/3 of the States passing laws to legalize it. If this policy was federally legalized, I believe it would provide health and monetary benefits that would much outweigh the risks behind legalizing it. As it stands today, the issues of federalism and this policy still stand because of the discrepancies and misinterpretations of the law that it provides. To make legalization of medical marijuana consistent with the constitutional framework of federalism all governmental policies need to be in agreement about the laws that are being passed.
Find Law. (2013). Medical Marijuana – An Overview. Retrieved from http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/medical-marijuana-an-overview.html Grabarsky, T. (2013). Conflicting Federal and State Medical Marijuana Policies: A Threat to Cooperative Federalism. Retrieved from http://works.bepress.com/todd_grabarsky/1/ MPP. (2014). Medical Marijuana Timeline. Retrieved from http://www.mpp.org/reports/medical-marijuana-overview.html Schwartz, D. (2013). HIGH FEDERALISM: MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION AND THE LIMITS OF FEDERAL POWER TO REGULATE STATES. Retrieved from the EbscoHost Database. Welsh, J. (2014). 23 Benefits of Marijuana. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/health-benefits-of-medical-marijuana-2014-4 White House. (2014). Marijuana Resource Center: State Laws Related to Marijuana. Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/state-laws-related-to-marijuana