When were the first medical marijuana laws passed in the U.S.?
Answered by Science Channel
  • Science Channel

    Science Channel

  1. State legislatures first began passing medical marijuana laws in the 1970s. At present, 12 states allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes [source: Drug Policy Alliance Network]. The state of Maryland has legislation on the books that authorizes the use of medical marijuana but forbids patients from growing their own. In general, states haven't made it legal to buy or sell marijuana, just to possess it. Because federal law trumps state law, someone in theory can be arrested for possessing medical marijuana, even though it's legal to do so under state law.

    Many American citizens believe the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes should be monitored and regulated by state and local authorities. According to the federal government, however, marijuana is a Schedule I drug, which is the strictest classification designated by the Controlled Substances Act. (Other Schedule I drugs include Ecstasy, LSD and heroin.) The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains that marijuana isn't a viable form of treatment. Furthermore, the FDA asserts that state laws legalizing its medicinal use only serve to undercut the federal government's ability to protect patients and consumers alike.

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