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Issue Brief: New Federal Paradigm in Marijuana Legalization?

posted on Wed, Mar 29 2017 12:00 am by The Network for Public Health Law

The results of the 2016 General Election and the anticipated new policy directions from an incoming Republican U.S. Attorney General raise questions as to whether a new federal/state legal relationship concerning marijuana legalization is forthcoming.

California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada voters agreed to end their prohibition on recreational marijuana. Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota authorized medical marijuana programs, while Montana revised its medical marijuana program. Only Arizona voters rejected an initiative to allow recreational use of marijuana.

Twenty-eight states now allow residents to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Eight states legally authorize and regulate recreational marijuana programs subject to state taxation for various public purposes. The Network for Public Health Law has been tracking state laws concerning marijuana since its inception.

This Issue Brief reviews current federal legal framework regarding marijuana control and explores possible options for federal, state, and local governments in the near future. As the concepts of federalism in public health law and criminal law continue to evolve, activity at the state level will play a large role in the formulation of marijuana laws and public policy. In tandem with legal experiments regarding marijuana legalization, social and public health impacts of these policies should be considered, especially regarding potential social determinants of health and health inequities.

Network attorneys are available to answer questions on this and other public health topics at no cost to you, and can assist you in using law to advance your public health initiatives. Contact a Network Attorney in your area for more information.

View/Download the Issue Brief.