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Legal and Public Attitudes Toward Marijuana Use

Despite these clearly changing attitudes, however, the federal government has taken no action to lessen the penalties or punitive treatment of marijuana use and possession in the United States. In fact, it has stepped up its prosecution, supported by a 2001 United States Supreme Court that effectively negates the decriminalization statutes passed in several states. In the 2001 case United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative, 532 U.S. 483, 494-495, the United States Supreme Court held that there was no medical exception to the Controlled Substances Act's ("CSA") prohibitions against the manufacture and distribution of marijuana. In the opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas reasoned that because Congress had clearly designated marijuana as a Schedule I substance under the CSA, Congress had determined that there was no current "accepted medical use" or medical benefit that would allow for an exception granted to other drugs under the Act (Herman, 121). The Justice Department has relied on the ruling in Oakland to arrest doctors and individuals who use marijuana for medical purposes even when such use and prescription is permitted by state law.

The federal government's actions are rooted in the foundations of the American justice system's penal model. In particular, America's drug policy is based on an "enforcement" model, which emphasizes punitive action beginning with the arrest and then prosecution and imprisonment of users and distributors of controlled substances. The New York Task Force, for example, maintained that such punitive treatment is considered one of the primary "weapons" in the U.S. war on drugs. However, as did the Time/CNN poll, the Task Force's investigation ended with the conclusion that contemporary drug policy has failed in a number of respects. In particular, the Task Force concluded that America's drug policy has failed to reduce violent crime or the importation, distribution and street-level sales o...

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Legal and Public Attitudes Toward Marijuana Use. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 04:19, December 21, 2014, from http://www.collegetermpapers.com/viewpaper/1303875061.html
 
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