This is part two of a two-part series on our Omaha defense lawyer blog, covering the history of cannabis and how opinion on it has changed over time. The first part covers the history that shaped an anti-marijuana culture. If you haven’t read it, check it out before you read this second part, which focuses more on the dramatic shifts of the modern era.
Mid-1900s: MJ Becomes Solidified as a “Hard Drug”
In short, marijuana didn’t become illegal because it was really a danger. It became illegal because of strategic campaigns which erroneously linked it with crime, addiction, and violence, much to the dismay of the medical community. Yet, the 1950s brought mandatory minimum sentences for simple possession with the Boggs Act, and marijuana’s inclusion in the Narcotics Control Act of 1956 made the penalties even harsher. Laws tightened further in 1970 when marijuana became a Class I substance, with no known medical use, though research hadn’t been conducted. Assistant Secretary for Health and Scientific Affairs, Roger O. Egeberg, suggested that the concept be revisited when studies being carried out by the Shafer Commission, also known as the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, had conclusive evidence. Yet, when the studies concluded marijuana was low-risk and the team proposed decriminalization, President Nixon ignored the advice and pushed his “War on Drugs” agenda.
Late 1900s: People Began Calling for Change
Throughout the 1970s, many states began decriminalizing the leafy green substance based on the Shafer Commission studies, starting first with Oregon. It wasn’t until 1991, however, that any municipality pushed any pro-marijuana initiatives. San Francisco was the first, with its medical marijuana initiative getting approval by 79% of voters. The whole state of California followed suit in 1996. In 1998, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington all legalized medical marijuana, despite anti-marijuana campaigns featuring former Presidents Ford, Carter, and Bush. Maine followed in 1999. Throughout all this, multiple studies were conducted, with results suggesting marijuana has numerous health benefits, yet the federal government repeatedly refused to reclassify marijuana.
2000s: An Era of Research and Change
At present, 38 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have enacted laws which legalize marijuana to some degree. Research from Pew indicates that 61% of the American population now supports legalization, up from 57% in 2016. For comparison, just 12% of the population supported marijuana while Nixon’s campaign was in full swing. Given the extent of the propaganda and mistruths spread about marijuana, the country has come a long way in few years. However, there is still a long way to go. Marijuana remains a Class I substance, illegal on a federal level. Moreover, although the Obama administration agreed to a hands-off policy for marijuana enforcement in states that had legalized it, the Trump administration has repealed the prior cannabis directives, despite the fact that a government task force advised Sessions to conduct more research before making any changes. In other words, the majority of the people and the government remain at odds.
Retain an Experienced Omaha Defense Lawyer
Despite the fact that the country should have a deep understanding of how these laws came to be, and the fact that most of the country agrees marijuana is a valid medical treatment, if not safe for recreational use, a few states continue to hold onto the old belief system. Nebraska is one of these states. In the state of Nebraska, even industrial hemp production is heavily restricted, while medicinal and recreational marijuana are outright illegal for all, aside from government-approved medical studies. That means any amount of the leafy green substance, or any cannabis product, could result in time behind bars and heavy fines. If you find yourself in a legal situation due to Nebraska’s harsh laws, get an experienced attorney with a proven track record on your side. Complete the form on this page or call (844) 906-0641 to get your free consultation with Omaha defense lawyer Daniel Stockmann today.