Marijuana Legalization: Now What?

If you’re reading this from Washington or Colorado and you’re over 21, it is now lawful for you to buy, sell, and use marijuana.  Never mind the fact that marijuana smoke contains carcinogens known to cause cancer. Never mind the fact that THC, a prominent chemical in marijuana, has addictive properties that can wreak havoc on a developing mind. Never mind the detrimental effect the drug can have on memory retention. Never mind the fact that this legalization may in fact be illegal in itself.  So then why won’t the US Department of Justice do anything about it?

Marijuana is a schedule I classification drug under the Controlled Substances Act in the United States, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse and there is no ACCEPTED medical precedent for it.  Therefore, it is illegal to possess or sell in the United States. This is federal law.  According to Article IV, Clause 2 of the Constitution of the United States, better known as the Supremacy Clause, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States…shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.” In other words, Washington can pass the Undiscovered Species Protection Act, which makes it illegal to harass Bigfoot or any other undiscovered species but it can’t legalize marijuana because it is against federal law and the law of the United States supersedes that of the state.

It would seem that the Department of Justice, if they chose, would have an easy time getting these laws taken off the books. In a recent press release from the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), Chairman and CEO Gen. Arthur T. Dean expressed disappointment at the Department of Justice decision:

“CADCA and its more than 5,000 community coalitions across the country have been anticipating a response from the Administration that would reaffirm the federal law and slow down this freight train. Instead, this decision sends a message to our citizens, youth, communities, states, and the international community at large that the enforcement of federal law related to marijuana is not a priority.”

The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey could not agree more with CADCA’s position on this issue.  To simply ignore the Constitutional legality of this matter is one thing, but this is sending the wrong message to our teens about a drug whose use still raises serious public health concerns. Long term marijuana use can cause respiratory illness and decreased motivation.  This is not something we want available on the free market.

We applaud CADCA for shining a light on this issue and hope that the Department of Justice will reconsider its decision.  In the meantime, parents need to be educating their children about the dangers of marijuana use.  We have always believed that the best kind of prevention starts at home with a simple conversation. We need to explain to our kids that even though there are some places that have made it legal, simply because something is now freely available doesn’t make it any less harmful.  Cigarettes are prime examples of this.

Thank you CADCA for keeping the pressure on the government and thank you to the parents in New Jersey and throughout the country working with us to keep all of our kids on the path to a healthy lifestyle.


                       This is legal now, thanks to a ruling from the Department of Justice. Image from

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