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How Will Legalizing Marijuana Play Out After the Election?

Voters in several states approved of legalizing marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes. Is the federal law out of step?

The election this week resulted in the passage of new marijuana legislation in several states. How will legalizing marijuana affect policies and practices in those places?

Legalizing Marijuana Use:

On Tuesday, citizens of California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada voted to make recreational use of cannabis legal. They join Colorado and Washington.

Medicinal Marijuana:

Voters in Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes. According to NORML, a lobbying group, more than half of the states now have provisions for medicinal use of cannabis or cannabis products such as cannabidiol (CBD). Besides the new additions, they include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. In several of these states, medicinal use is restricted to certain indications; many permit only the use of cannabidiol, which does not have psychedelic properties.

What Will the Federal Government Do?

These state initiatives are at odds with federal legislation on marijuana, which still holds both recreational and medical use illegal. How the new administration will handle this contradiction remains unknown.

What Should You Know About Medical Marijuana?

David Casarrett, MD, investigated medical marijuana, expecting to find it would be bogus-just an excuse for people to get high. His research changed his mind, and he told us all about it in an hour-long interview last spring. You can listen to him explain where the evidence about medical marijuana leads and where it falls short in Show 1027: How One Doctor Changed His Mind about Medical Marijuana. You can order a CD or purchase the mp3.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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