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Marijuana Is Still Illegal Under Federal Law

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By Adair Smith

Cincinnati Employment Newsletter
December 13, 2018

Nine states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana is legal in thirty states. https://www.businessinsider.com/legal-marijuana-states-2018-1. The cannabis industry in the United States grew 33% over 2016 and is expected to reach $24.5 billion in sales by 2021. Id. Support for marijuana is high in the United States, as evidenced by a 2017 Gallup poll which showed that 64% of Americans favor legalization. Id. Despite the popularity and increased support, marijuana is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, and its use, possession, or cultivation is a federal offense. 21 U.S.C. § 812(c)(c)(10). Despite states’ actions to legalize marijuana, the Department of Justice has reiterated that marijuana remains an illegal drug and has instructed prosecutors to enforce the Controlled Substances Act. https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-announces-update-marijuana-enforcement-policy. As such, state marijuana laws only protect consumers from criminal prosecution by state authorities; not from federal drug offenses.