Should Marijuana Be Legalized Nationally

Photo Credit: Mark Sommerfeld

The legalization of marijuana, both for medicinal and recreational use, may be an idea whose time has come.

Last month, Democrat Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, said he plans to introduce legislation that will allow states that want to legalize marijuana to do so, without fear of federal prosecution.

Schumer issued his call on April 20, a date that is traditionally upheld by marijuana enthusiasts as a day to partake of cannabis. At press time, he had not formally introduced legislation, but the Democrat said on Twitter that he believes states “should function as their own laboratories of democracy. My bill is a step in the right direction aimed at removing the barriers to state legalization efforts.”

He said the legislation is aimed in part at reducing disparities in enforcement that have led to a disproportionate number of people of color being incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses. The senator said his legislation would still allow the federal government to enforce laws against interstate trafficking so that marijuana does not cross into states that have chosen not to legalize.

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 29 states, and recreational marijuana is legal in nine states. Several other states are considering a change to their laws. A majority of physicians say that at least medical marijuana should be legalized nationally and that it can deliver real benefits to patients, a WebMD/Medscape survey of more than 1500 physicians in 12 specialties and 48 states found.