In 1978 the federal government of the United States decided that for medicinal purposes, Robert Randall could be allowed 300 marijuana cigarettes each month so long as they were supplied by a state controlled growing facility. This case led the way to a handful of other people gaining the rights to smoke state provided marijuana, however in future years the first Bush administration decided to pull the plug on this endeavor. While the people already taking legal marijuana were allowed to continue, there were no more medical cases taken on by the federal government and this is still the case today.
In 1996, however, California passed the Compassionate Use Act which allowed for medicinal use by its residents and following this bold move 12 other States have created similar programs for their citizens. These States have decided that the drug can be put to good use in relieving pain for sick and dying people and as such they are willing to admit that there are not enough drawbacks to its use to maintain a full ban. What this means for the future of legalized pot is up for debate, since the current federal government is still not folding under national pressure to decriminalize a drug that many people firmly believe is not harmful.
The problem with decriminalization lobby groups is that the federal government still has a very strong anti-drug stance and any moves to even move marijuana out of the Schedule I class (those being classified as the most risky for addiction and bodily harm) have seen little backing. Because of this, the current atmosphere is not warm towards the decriminalization of any drug and especially one that is so controversial. America is not a country that leans on liberal tendencies when it comes to drug use, and it seems that the federal government remains staunch in its resistance to protesters who claim marijuana is both medicinally useful and of no harsh consequence with non-medicinal use.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is a federal organization given the task of enforcing the Controlled Substances Act, and as such it is a federal body that often overrides State legislation by performing raids on medicinal grow crops. Marijuana being a fully illegal substance in the eyes of the federal government (in fact as a Schedule I drug it is classified as having no accepted medicinal purpose) it remains under close scrutiny by the DEA and people harvesting or distributing it even under State legislation are in constant dread of being shut down by the federal government.
In American’s current climate, marijuana decriminalization is definitely not on the table. If State governments keep up the fight for medicinal use, however, the stigma surrounding the drug will eventually be brought down and perhaps in the very distant future we might see a softening of the drug laws specific to pot. Let’s not bet any money on full decriminalization, but maybe it could get moved down to a Schedule II or III – who knows?