A Sticky Situation: The evolving legality of cannabis – Erie Reader

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By: Ben Speggen

The Devil’s Lettuce. Mary Jane, herb, ganga, chronic, stinkweed, hay, skunk, broccoli, pot, weed, reefer, dope.

Marijuana has gone — and still goes — by many names. One that’s becoming more commonplace: Medicine.

And seemingly following not too far behind: Legal.

For a great overview and deeper dive into the history of the plant in the U.S. and the stigma of how American culture is evolving on the topic of marijuana, revisit Matt Swanseger’s April 12, 2017 feature for the Erie Reader, “Blunt Terms.” In it, Swanseger reviews the country’s interesting past and evolving future with the plant of many names, quoting Brookings Institution Senior Fellow John Hudak, author of Marijuana: A Short History, “Over the course of the nation’s history, the plant has gone from a required crop to an accepted medical treatment to a government-regulated pharmaceutical to an illegal drug to a somewhat legal medicinal option to a local legal and regulated substance.”

Along the way, Swanseger refreshes our memories of the impact of the Spanish-American War of 1898 and the subsequent Mexican Revolution (the ill-conceived caricatures of “less motivated, less industrious, and less stable morally and emotionally” pot-peddling Latin Americans), as well as the 1937 now-cult-classic Reefer Madness (noting that exaggerations in the film rate as “laughable”), President Nixon’s War on Drugs (and how marijuana-related arrests soared above 700,000 under the Clinton administration), and more, outlining the how and why of, well, how and why we got here.

Two years later, questions remain, chiefly: What is legal, and where? And when will things change again?

A quick answer to the what and the where is: Nothing is legal at the federal level. Conversely, on the state level, it varies between the 50 and the District of Columbia.

According to the

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