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Legalization of Cannabis a Controversial Topic in the United States
Angela LydonNov 14, 2023 5:20:39 AM4 min read

Why is the Legalization of Cannabis a Controversial Topic in the USA?

In the United States, 23 states have legalized cannabis, leaving a little over half the states in the country remaining criminalized. Many users and supporters of cannabis and cannabis products are wondering why the entire country has not legalized cannabis altogether, yet it remains a controversial subject on whether it should be completely decriminalized.

Legality of cannabis by u.s. jurisdiction

The legality of cannabis by U.S. jurisdiction refers to the varying legal statuses and regulations governing the cultivation, possession, sale, and use of cannabis within different geographic areas of the United States.

Due to the federal system, individual states and territories possess the authority to establish their own cannabis policies, resulting in a decentralized legal landscape. Some jurisdictions have fully legalized cannabis for recreational and medicinal purposes, while others maintain strict prohibition. The complex interplay between state laws and the federal classification of cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance contributes to the intricate and evolving legal framework surrounding cannabis in the United States.

As a result, the legality of cannabis is subject to ongoing legislative changes and public discourse at both the state and federal levels.

Here are some of the topic reasons why the cannabis industry is so debated. 

Cannabis products with THC can still have mind-altering effects 

One of the major reasons why cannabis should be legal or not is that it is still a drug that can cause mind-altering effects. Those in favor of legalization argue that alcohol is legal and can have similar effects, yet it is said that alcohol is safer to consume, especially in smaller quantities. There can also be interference with prescription drugs a person may be taking. 

Many consider cannabis to be a gateway drug 

For those against cannabis legalization, it has been long seen as a gateway drug to other, more harmful drugs. Some suggest that using marijuana, especially at a younger age, is more likely to start using other drugs and consuming alcohol. Legalizing in all states may make it easier for youth to obtain even with age limits put into place. While there is still some argument about addiction, studies have shown that frequent cannabis users who use in higher quantities can experience some dependence and withdrawal symptoms. They can also have a higher chance of developing issues with other substances.

Having adverse effects after using 

Despite the debate on cannabis, many sufferers of chronic pain and certain medical conditions have shown improvement using cannabis or cannabis products in various forms. Some claim that cannabis use can reduce pain and promote relaxation. However, depending on the individual and their specific condition, they may have adverse effects. Some have had negative reactions such as increased anxiety, panic, depressed mood, and fatigue. 

Not enough long-term data is available 

While many have used cannabis in various forms even when it was completely decriminalized, many papers and studies have been conducted. However, now that marijuana has become legal in many states across the country, more products have become available, such as beverages and edibles. Because cannabis in most states hasn’t been legal for that long, many fear that accurate long-term studies and data are not available yet. 

Despite the controversial component of cannabis, it is still becoming more widely accepted and has still been shown to have medicinal benefits. It’s always best to discuss any medicinal cannabis treatments with your primary care physician. Cannabis will likely remain a highly debated topic in the country, especially as almost exactly half the states have legalized it. 

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Is cannabis legal in the united states of america?

The answer to this question is nuanced due to the federal system and the varying cannabis policies adopted by individual states. At the federal level, cannabis remains illegal and is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. However, numerous states have enacted their own laws allowing for the legal use of cannabis for medical and/or recreational purposes. As a result, the legal status of cannabis in the United States is not uniform and depends on the specific laws of the state or territory in question. To obtain the most accurate and up-to-date information on the legality of cannabis, it is advisable to refer to the current laws of the specific jurisdiction in consideration.

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(2023, May 5). Americans’ Perceptions of Alcohol vs. Marijuana. American Addiction Centers. Retrieved October 17, 2023, from

(2023). Is marijuana addictive? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved October 17, 2023, from