On November 3, four American states voted to legalize marijuana: Arizona, New Jersey, Montana, and South Dakota. Combined with the other eleven states that have done so in recent years, one in three Americans now lives in a state where access to marijuana has been legalized. It shows that Americans are souring on the harsh drug policies that have put millions of people in prison.
But America’s national drug policy is a different story. Under federal law, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it’s considered to have little medical value and a high risk of abuse, along with drugs like LSD, heroin, ecstasy, and psilocybin (the chemical compound in so-called magic mushrooms).
In the fifteen states where marijuana has been legalized, that conflict with federal law creates numerous problems for legal marijuana sellers and users. Few national politicians talk about legalizing marijuana throughout the country, but advocates are hoping that by introducing new state laws one by one, Americans who are ready to move on from the country’s decades-long war on drugs will eventually force the federal government’s hand.