For the most part the US government has distanced itself from any regulations passed in 1937. I can get more into the details later, but essentially I believe it was Dr. Timothy Leary who took the Supreme Court to task over the constitutionality of the Marijuana Tax Act... that it was illegal to possess marijuana, so one could not buy a tax stamp as that would make an individual guilty of of crime. The Supreme Court agreed, and in place of the Tax Act new legislation was passed in the form of the:
Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 CDAPCA of 1970 - WIKIPEDIA
This rewrote the laws and regulations for possession of "controlled substances".
The question is, what is the rationale behind the rewritten and current laws, as it applies to cannabis?
Having come of age in the mid-1970's it's my opinion the CDAPCA of 1970 was in response to the use of "drugs" in the 1960's, the governments growing concern that control of recreational substances was not only a potential safety issue, but a threat to it's control over what was acceptable with regards to recreational drugs; by all practical reasoning, there was one recreational drug that was acceptable - alcohol products. By revamping the outdated and in the case of cannabis, the clearly unconstitutional issues, regulations were redesigned for the most part to ensure "Public Safety". By the mid-1970's the question of public safety was at the forefront of many American's minds... it was the Boomer Generation that was questioning "authority" in a big way.
Reefer Madness the "killer of youth" horror flickolography from the 1930's, was a joke... everyone - or nearly everyone knew it. Yet they had to wonder - time and again, seeing friends busted for a joint, spending time in jail, the big "why"? Why was the federal and state governments still pretending that cannabis was the "killer of youth", when it obviously wasn't. Then, in 1977, President Jimmy Carter legalized cannabis/marijuana, as current law was far more severe and detrimental that actual use of that drug in his and the opinion of many notable scholars and scientists. It looked for a moment that common-sense and rationality in government was a real thing. He also legalized home-brewed beer and wine... which by a mistake had never been legalized when alcohol prohibition ended. As a result micro-brewers sprung up everywhere and infused the beer industry with much needed competition.
It was a short blur of a few days before an out-cry and clamp-down on cannabis legalization was issued from other powerful government entities. And Cannabis, unfortunately, was still illegal, and the whole notion of it being a "stepping-stone" to hard drugs, and restrictions on research began to take on a new life. The "War on Drugs" was born.
Then came the early 80's and 1ST Lady Nancy Reagan's famous mantra - "Just Say No", and the birth of D.A.R.E (Drug Awareness Resistance Education).
Society as a whole had no choice then but to embrace the "fact" that marijuana was bad, as bad if not worst that harder drugs. A common phrase sprang up that "we already have enough problems with alcohol" was heard to justify continued anti-drug actions.
Front stage a different show was being performed... use of prescription drugs veered into abuse, alcohol use continued to be the primary cause of vehicular deaths, domestic abuse and violence, and use of "alternative drugs" like glues, aerosols, choking games, etc. became more common.
My argument is that cannabis prohibition became more a regulation towards "PUBLIC GOOD", and less a public safety issue. The Emperor Wear's No Clothes the title of a book by Jack Herer, LINK HERE: JACK HERER - clearly underlines to likelihood that "government knows current laws targeting marijuana are quite excessive, yet to back down and admit it, correct the mistake, it would mean denouncing 60+ years of propaganda by the government. That's why President Jimmy Carter failed - his intentions were genuine, but he didn't see the forest through the trees.
Advance to 2010...
California citizens are at the forefront of a move to legalize cannabis. Already it is pretty apparent that the "liberal state" has a majority of citizens who favor legalization. It is however somewhat disappointing that bad economic times has brought people out of the closet regarding cannabis. Encouraging as they are willing to speak up. But to be truthful, it was pretty much the same when alcohol prohibition ended... bad economic times seems to encourage rethinking societal norms. And the 18th Amendment only made the whole alcohol problem that much worse. From the beginning, public safety issues regarding the unpleasant consequences of alcohol abuse and violence, led to "Prohibition". It had been brewing since the 1830's, this idea to outlaw alcohol use, and for good reason. It seemed to bring out the worst in people, spouses, etc., Alcohol use became synonymous to violet, stupid behavior.
In the end, the adoption of the 18th amendment was a matter more of Public Good, than Public Safety. Politically what was a public safety concern became a political concern, but in order to make such a revolutionary change to human behavior ultimately morphed into a PUBLIC GOOD campaign.
Cannabis use is also about the "public good", as it's pretty obvious cannabis use is not extremely or even generally harmful.
We do have experiences like in my last post under this title: I wrote about the "Pentagon Shooter", John Patrick Bedell. And John allegedly used a lot of marijuana. SOURCE: MSNBC
It's the scary stuff we'd expect... especially the caption to Bedell's picture at the link I provided: "A psychiatrist says John Patrick Bedell tried to self-medicate his bipolar illness with marijuana, inadvertently making his symptoms more pronounced."
Bad apples grow on apple-trees... but that doesn't mean you chop down the tree because of one bad apple.
Next ... the lengths to which government will go to enforce the ideal of PUBLIC GOOD...