How Has The Decriminalization of Marijuana Affected Current Laws?

For more than half a century, the subject of the DECRIMINALIZATION OF MARIJUANA in the United States has been an ongoing topic. Throughout American history, cannabis has played a historical part of the nation. Marijuana, the byproduct of the buds of the cannabis plant was actually legal for use in prescription form as early as 1937 for certain ailments. This is when the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 came into effect but there also began the need to acknowledge the abuse of the plant. Passed in 1956, a law forbidding the personal use of non-prescribed marijuana mandated a two-to-ten year sentence in prison with up to $20,000 in fines imposed. This was a rather harsh sentence for a first-time offense and it was repealed in 1973 to make way for another law that still made the possession of marijuana illegal. The new law, enforced by a new organization called the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reduced the terms to a misdemeanor for minor possession but laid heavy sentencing terms and fines for those supplying marijuana to others.

In more recent times, several states have overruled the federal law and made marijuana legal for certified medical use and as of this year, a couple states have decriminalized marijuana use altogether. States like Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana for personal use as well as for medicinal use. While the effect of this definitely affects marijuana users and growers directly. This could also affect the way some standard laws and practices are being enforced.

DUI/DWI vs. Reckless Driving

Since marijuana is no longer regulated in these particular states, a person can drive a vehicle smoking marijuana just as they would a tobacco cigarette. Law enforcement can no longer pull someone over for the act of possessing or using the substance. This may result in a greater enforcement of the reckless driving provision. The difference between these laws, though, are vast. Driving while under the influence is a criminal offense and felony that often requires jail time, surrender of the driver’s license, and fines. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor equal to that of failing stop at a red light. The result being the driver receives a ticket, gets their court date, and then the judge decides their fate. The punishment usually requires the driver to pay fines and has their driving record marked.

Tax Laws and Money Circulation

There’s no denying that the federal government doesn’t support the decriminalization of marijuana because the growth and distribution of it generates an incredible amount of money. From the farmers who grow the plants to the buyers who pay some kid on the street for a bag of weed, marijuana is a multimillion dollar industry. Without the regulation and the complete decriminalization of marijuana, many players have an open hand in that industry. The money that exchanges hands normally does so without the watchful eye of the IRS and many the wise entrepreneur knows this. How the federal government enforces this exchange will definitely be an item to watch.

Should the federal government accept the decriminalization of marijuana, many changes in structure of laws will be in place. From the enforcement of use to the way the IRS recognizes cannabis culture as a viable business, the laws of our daily lives will most definitely have to be adapted to this. In simpler times, this was not an issue. The written law was a guideline rather than a mandate. In more recent times, we have laws to protect from other laws and those laws to protect themselves from the citizens who are meant to abide by them. One thing is certain, though. The future of this decriminalization will be precedent and will affect the lives of millions, whether the partake in marijuana use or not.

For more information, check out “The Decriminalization of Marijuana“.