CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, May 14, 2018

Gostin et al. on Federal Drug Law and State Legalization of Medical Marijuana

Lawrence O. GostinJames G. Hodge and Sarah Wetter (Georgetown University - Law Center - O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law and Arizona State University (ASU), Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Students) have posted an abstract of Enforcing Federal Drug Laws in States Where Medical Marijuana Is Lawful (JAMA, Vol. 319, No. 14, 1435-1436, April 2018) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
On January 4, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum immediately rescinding the Obama Administration’s long-standing guidance limiting federal enforcement of medical marijuana. Federal law creates harsh penalties for the cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana, which Sessions deemed a “dangerous drug” and a “serious crime.” The memorandum places physicians and patients at risk of arrest and prosecution in 29 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized medical use of marijuana (eTable in the Supplement).

This Department of Justice (DOJ) guidance came at a time of increasing acceptance, accessibility, and use of cannabis and its derivatives. According to a 2015 nationwide survey, an estimated 22.2 million individuals in the United States aged 12 years or older reported cannabis use in the past 30 days; 90% said their primary use was recreational, with 10% solely for medical purposes; 36% reported mixed medical and recreational use. A 2017 national poll found that 61% of respondents support legalization of marijuana and 71% oppose federal enforcement. In 2016, an estimated 1.2 million adults accessed medicinal marijuana through state-licensed dispensaries or home cultivation.

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