Half Baked: The Federal and State Conflicts of Legalizing Medical Marijuana

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Fevery, Andrew K
Medical marijuana; Federal; State; Proposition 215; Controlled Substance Act; Supremacy Clause; Conflict of Laws; Health Law and Policy; Medical Jurisprudence
thesis / dissertation description
The legalization of medical marijuana has been a complicated and confusing process. The drug is used for medical purposes yet is only semi-legal and not approved by the federal government. This piece will observe the legal medical history of this drug in the United States. It will analyze the growth of the medical marijuana movement up to the present with a special emphasis to the importance of federal, state and local supremacy. It will observe important court cases that have been decisive in defining the reach of federal power under the Commerce Clause and the 1970 Controlled Substance Act. This analysis will look at the current legal standing of medical marijuana as well as the legal hurdles to achieve full legal status and medical recognition from state federal and local levels of government. A special focus will be given to the state of California because it has the largest medical marijuana market and has taken center stage in the movement to legalize marijuana as a medicine. This paper will also cover the growth of the state condoned medical marijuana black market and the complications that arise from taxing, and licensing semi-legal businesses. This paper will assess the monetary and personal costs of this movement and the political elements of resisting the medical development and scientific understanding of this drug. It will seek to suggest a solution to the current impasse and explain why medical marijuana in this instance has been bad medicine and dangerous policy.