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The Legality of Cannabis and Marijuana in the US: Things You Need to Know

Introduction: Cannabis is a flowering herb also known as marijuana and one of the most interesting topics under discussion by several legal experts. It is the most commonly consumed illicit substance in the US, with more than 18% of Americans using it at least once, as per research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2009. However, there are also a lot of studies based on the prescription and holistic use of cannabidiol, with conclusive evidence of positive healing effects derived. Today, if you look up multiple resources to understand the legality of cannabis, you’ll observe that there is still a substantial degree of confusion surrounding its production, sale, and use.

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If you’ve managed to find the right sources for your research work in understanding this paradoxical aspect better, you’ll understand where the problem lies. The federal and state regulations regarding cannabis have different mandates and oppose each other. Several contradictory rulings mentioned can make it difficult for laypeople and even businessmen to understand where it is legal for prescription and recreational purposes.


If you plan to create a cannabis-based business or are considering buying cannabis products, understanding the state laws is highly essential. This article will help you determine the legal angle of cannabis in your state.


What do you need to know while purchasing cannabis online?

As consumers, it is highly necessary to understand how to legally procure cannabis, marijuana, or related products without getting into any legal trouble. The first aspect of purchasing products like rawcone, vapes, infusions, edibles, and others is making sure that you use the services of a licensed dispensary. Be it a brick-and-mortar store or an online portal, these dispensaries need to adhere to the specific and commercial laws laid down by their respective states, especially for inter-state sales.


As producers and vendors of cannabis and related products, there are several parameters apart from being licensed and approved. It is important for them to understand all the protocols that are required in order to make sure the supplies and services are within the scope of the law. If they’re selling accessories online, there may be some relaxation regarding the legal effect in states where cannabis legality is still a grey area. Since the sale of accessories like bongs and glass dab rigs are perfectly legal, these are sold by several vendors under a separate business registration and category.


The legality of cannabis:

Before we get started with the nitty-gritty, let’s make a few clarifications. Oftentimes, the terms marijuana, cannabis, and hemp are mistaken for one another. This may come from their perceived similarities and origin from related plants. To make things easier, hemp is the substance also known as a cannabis Sativa plant that contains 0.3% or less of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC in dry weight. For your reference, THC is an intoxicating psychoactive compound. Hemp and cannabis can be used interchangeably in terms of assessing their legal status.


Cannabis is a plant of the genus cannabis, where its flowers and plant have concentrated quantities of psychoactive compounds. For legal purposes, both marijuana and cannabis as substances refer to the intoxicating ingredient of the cannabis plant. These psychoactive compounds are commonly consumed by inhalation, edibles, skin patches, and topical applications. Some of these compounds are available in other plants as well, but THC and CBD are exclusive to the cannabis plant. Meanwhile, hemp is a plant that contains very low quantities of intoxicating chemicals.


In 2020 the legalization of cannabis is a hot topic among consumers, businesspeople, politicians, and the opposition. While federal laws encircling the legal purview of cannabis are already in place since the 1970s, supplementary bills have been debated. The legality of cannabis was discussed yet again in the House and Senate in April 2022 under the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act.


The decriminalization of marijuana first began in the 1960s, well before Federal law labeled it as an illicit drug. By then, the world had observed a growing interest in the use of cannabis for medical purposes. In 1996, California was the first state to pass the Medical Marijuana Law and legalized the use of cannabis for prescription purposes only. At present, there are 37 states on the list of those that have passed the MML, making it perfectly legal for medical practitioners to prescribe these compounds. Additionally, 19 states and the District of Columbia have made the recreational use of cannabis legal.


To clear up the contradictions based on Federal and state legislatures having their own laws for the production, sale, and use of cannabis, you need to check the list of states with their respective stance to get a clear picture.


The process of producing marijuana in every state differs when it comes to the legislative process. For example, in states like California and Colorado, where recreational marijuana use was okayed, there was a citizen ballot initiative that helped determine cannabis regulations.


Today, we can witness a notable shift where legalization is taking place at the legislature levels, which has a different mechanism from being a citizen initiative. With Illinois being the first state to pass its legislation specifying a program for taxed and regulated cannabis, other states are expected to follow suit.


Final Word:

As far as the future of cannabis legalization is concerned, we can expect more changes to be introduced in the near future. This is mainly due to the differing cannabis policies all over the country; the regulations are so different across the states that there is much to be streamlined between interstate commerce. The federal legalization of this substance will ultimately give significant deference to State regulations while facilitating interstate sales to be conducted under applicable federal tax structures and surveillance. Making provisions for interstate commerce concerning cannabis, hemp, and marijuana is going to make substantial changes in the customers buying trends, which need to be deeply assessed.


For what it is worth, the legalization status is just the beginning of a long conversation that is far from over.


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