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Marijuana was a popular botanical medicine in the 19th and 20th centuries, common in U.S. pharmacies of the time.
Yet, in 1970, the herb was declared a Schedule 1 controlled substance and labeled as a drug with a “high potential for abuse” and “no accepted medical use.”
Three years later the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was formed to enforce the newly created drug schedules, and the fight against marijuana use began.
The Huffington Post has a concise history of marijuana prohibition, and the struggle for legalization, that is well worth reading — but the most successful movement to date, and the one that is set to produce the first legal marijuana market in decades, is the medical marijuana movement.
Unfortunately, the feds have recently announced a blatant reversal on their previous pro-medical marijuana stance — a move that is threatening to stop the industry cold.
Why Are the Feds So Concerned About Medical Marijuana?
Fifteen states plus the District of Columbia have laws allowing medical marijuana.
In other words, in those states it is considered legal to consume, possess or distribute marijuana for medical use.
Up until 2009, the U.S. Justice Department essentially told federal prosecutors to lay off Americans producing and using medical marijuana in accordance with state laws.
But despite marijuana’s legal status at the state level, historically it was common for the DEA to raid medical marijuana suppliers and even arrest patients.
This is because federal law overrides state law, defining the possession or distribution of marijuana as a criminal offense.
According to The State of the Medical Marijuana Markets 2011, the national market for medical marijuana is now worth $1.7 billion — and could grow to close to $9 billion in the next five years — if not for a stunning reversal by the Obama administration. In October 2011, the Obama administration released a letter to clarify their earlier position, which, as Seattle Weekly reports, indicates, “The only people safe from arrest were the “seriously ill” patients and their caregivers… Everyone else? Be forewarned.”