In the United States, the overwhelming majority of Americans support the use of medical marijuana. Support for medical marijuana is estimated to be around 80%. This support has been evidenced in both polling and with their votes on various public referendums.
Currently approximately 33 states in the U.S. allow for legal medical marijuana. Laws vary greatly from state to state. California was the first state to legal medical marijuana back in 1996 followed by a number of other states. Now the majority of states offer their citizens legal medical marijuana. Additionally, many states have legalized recreational marijuana.
However, at the Federal level marijuana is illegal in all cases although the Feds have tended not to interfere with states on the issue of medical cannabis even though the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 prohibits marijuana for any type of use and ridiculously categorizes cannabis the same as it does heroin. The DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) classifies marijuana as a ‘Schedule 1’ drug. Their position is that marijuana has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. Most medical experts disagree, as does the public.
The stigma for marijuana, both medical marijuana and recreational, has now largely disappeared. In 1999 the Gallop polling organization conducted its’ first poll on the issue and found that 73% favored legalized medical marijuana. By 2017, support for legal medical cannabis stood at 94% nationally according to a Quinnipiac Poll.
The medical use of weed goes back thousands of years starting in ancient China, India and Egypt. In the 1800’s its’ use for a variety of ailment spread to the West. In that era, marijuana was sold in pharmacies and grocery stores. However in the early 1900’s, as concerns about recreational use encouraged by sensational media reports, politics and anti-marijuana crusaders, states began outlawing marijuana. By 1936 marijuana was essentially illegal everywhere in the United States.
During the 1960’s recreational use of marijuana skyrocketed and the medical uses of cannabis began to be investigated again. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, public sentiment regarding cannabis started changing and the slow process to where we are today began in earnest.
Now the majority of states permit the use of medical cannabis and a number of states have legalized ‘pot’ for recreational use. And, the trend towards more states getting on board with full legalization continues to gain momentum.