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The Blunt Facts

As many states begin to legalize marijuana, the struggle of federal power vs. state power becomes a heavily debated topic.

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The Blunt Facts

Griffin Goldstein, Staff Writer

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The legality of marijuana is one of the most complex and confusing political issues to date. Whether it be medical or recreational, there are many factors that go into where and how it can be obtained, and it can be hard to weed out the whole, blunt truth from all the lies.

Currently, cannabis is legal in some way in all states except for Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota, where all forms of it are prohibited. It is completely legal for recreational use in nine states, along with the District of Columbia: California, Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont.

In the 29 remaining states, it is legal for medical purposes only. Arizona is one of the 29 but in recent years, there has been a considerable push for recreational legalization.

Despite all of the states’ individual laws for regulating cannabis, the substance remains illegal under federal law. Under the Obama Administration, the Cole Memorandum limited federal interference and left legalization up to the states. “The states want it legalized but federally, it’s still illegal… it can’t be both but that’s the argument,” said Brad Penner, school police officer.

Recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent out his own memo which directs attorneys across the states to enforce the drug laws set under the Nixon administration.

Under this policy, the federal government classified marijuana as a schedule I drug, meaning it is in the same category for much more dangerous drugs, like heroin. For a drug to be classified as Schedule I, it must meet three requirements made by the Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA: it must show high potential for abuse, have no accepted medical use in the U.S., and lack accepted safety under medical use. According to the DEA, no prescriptions for Schedule I drugs may be written and they are not allowed to be stocked or readily available by distributors.

“I believe marijuana could be used medically because it doesn’t seem to have any apparent negative effects,” said Nicholas Rooker, a senior.

The rescheduling of marijuana has been a battle raging on since 1972. Rescheduling advocates argued that the drug did not meet the Controlled Substances Act’s criteria of “no current accepted medical use”, which forced the U.S. government, by law, to allow its medical distribution. However, the government still feels as though that cannabis is dangerous enough to still be classified as Schedule I.

“I think, given the things that are already legal, marijuana should be legalized seeing as it’s much less harmful than anything else,” said Austin Engelbrecht, a senior.

So how can states configure the legality of marijuana within their borders when it is ultimately illegal under federal law? The answer is nullification, or the ability to invalidate any federal law that a state deems unconstitutional. The constitution does not guarantee the federal government power to regulate marijuana within state boundaries. On top of this, the Tenth Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people,” meaning the states only have to follow federal laws whose power is granted directly from the Constitution. The states can essentially ignore, or nullify, the federal laws against marijuana, legally.

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The Blunt Facts