Marijuana, Its Legislation History and Effects


Marijuana had existed before the 20th century and was mainly recommended for treating various medical problems. In an attempt to regulate it through legislation, there was a change in the societal perception of its use for leisure purposes. The enactment of marijuana laws draws varied outcomes of its usage and legal implications.

History Regarding Legalization and Use

In the early 1970s, federal law classified marijuana as an illegal drug falling under Schedule I drugs, which had no suitable medical usage. The federal government instituted acts other than those stipulated under tax laws. The laws were provided under criminal statutes where activities involving marijuana were outlawed. This was geared towards enhancing global war on curbing the drug menace. The government thought that marijuana can easily be abused and had no conventional therapeutic role. Federal law banned the sale, purchase, usage, growth, or distribution of marijuana (Lisdahl, 2018). State laws consequently devised legislation that endorsed marijuana’s medical utility, pointing to research procedures involving the substance while leaving out the criminal implications of its use.

The legislation did not fetch much for marijuana as a therapeutic substance until Medical Marijuana Law came into place in 2014. States under this law legalized the use of marijuana for leisure, sale, and possession in small amounts. The law provided immunity to physicians and those consuming, holding, and growing marijuana for medical purposes (Weir, 2015). The law required that there be a state record showing the patients to whom marijuana was recommended. The need to protect medical practitioners involved laws and regulations on holding and growing marijuana. There are provisions in the law on the defense and protection a patient is entitled to in case of a suit.


Following the enactment of laws on marijuana, its medical value has been in use as a remedy to various health problems alongside the notion that it is destructive and unsafe for use. The law tends to reduce the perception that marijuana is harmful thus making it more acceptable in society. This has a negative impact as it has contributed to marijuana is the most frequently abused drug by millions of individuals worldwide. It has also been linked to what most youths accustom themselves to when they start abusing it at an early age compared to other substances. Legislation in the US has allowed the use of marijuana for youths aged above 21 years, and this constitutes the nonmedical utilization of marijuana (Sobesky, 2016). This usage has led to mental disorders and undesirable eventualities such as unlawful activities, poor workforce, and low levels of education.

The state laws that legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes do not provide mechanisms to ensure that all marijuana grown for this purpose ends up in the hands of recognized patients, and this is an unfeasible task for the government. The government is not allowed to check on product branding and wholesomeness, which may lead to compromise on its quality and safety (Winerman, 2018). The law provides a defense to those in compliance with state statutes, but the individuals who violate federal laws on marijuana are liable to severe punishment that includes compulsory minimum sentences. There exist conflicts between Federal and State laws on marijuana, which is the cause for the lack of clarity by the citizenry and those in the marijuana business (Stringer, 2017). The legalization of marijuana lessens the perception that it is harmful, and this may in effect lead to an increase in its nonmedical use amongst adolescents.


Federal laws were to enhance the fight against substance abuse around the world where huge costs had been incurred by governments and many arrests done in conjunction with the war on drugs. The states provided statutes that allowed the use of marijuana for medical purposes thus enhancing positivity on the perception of its safety (Hasin et al., 2015). The law also provides a defense to those incriminated from the use of the substance medically. According to the state laws, an individual who uses or grows marijuana for therapeutic purposes is not culpable of any criminal charges. The doctors also have the right to recommend marijuana to a patient.

The social acceptability enabled by enacted laws leads to an increase in the nonmedical use of marijuana, which can be countered by the same law that legalized it. The laws recommend and brand marijuana for very serious health conditions, and this lessens its nonmedical use by the youth (Anderson, Rees, & Sabia, 2014). This will eventually change the view that marijuana is used mainly for fun that for medical purposes. Some medical practitioners have proposed that the government should be part of legalization so that it can regulate the use of marijuana by adults concerning its production, testing, distribution, and sale (Hall & Lynskey, 2016). They are also interested in having the government label the product to include all the necessary details. Physicians are against the advertisements that would attract the attention of minors to discourage them from using marijuana under whatever circumstance.


The history of marijuana has to do with the legislation and the effect it had on its use for medical and non-medical purposes. The effect of this legislation varies based on the kind of laws governing the people. Laws should be enforced to criminalize any leisure use of marijuana while authorizing its use in medical practices.


Anderson, D. M., Rees, D. I., & Sabia, J. J. (2014). Medical marijuana laws and suicides by gender and age. American Journal of Public Health, 104(12), 2369-2376.

Hall, W., & Lynskey, M. (2016). Evaluating the public health impacts of legalizing recreational cannabis use in the United States. Addiction, 111(10), 1764-1773.

Hasin, D. S., Wall, M., Keyes, K. M., Cerdá, M., Schulenberg, J., O’Malley, P. M., & Feng, T. (2015). Medical marijuana laws and adolescent marijuana use in the USA from 1991 to 2014: Results from annual, repeated cross-sectional surveys. The Lancet Psychiatry, 2(7), 601-608.

Lisdahl, K. (2018). Speaking of psychology: Marijuana: The brain changer. Web.

Sobesky, M. (2016). Psychology’s quiet voice on the medicalization of cannabis. Web.

Stringer, H. (2017). Working with both sides of the legislative aisle. American Psychological Association, 48(1), 64. Web.

Weir, K. (2015). Marijuana and the developing brain. American Psychological Association, 46(10), 48. Web.

Winerman, L. (2018). In brief. American Psychological Association, 49(2), 11. Web.

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LawBirdie. "Marijuana, Its Legislation History and Effects." October 25, 2023.