Marijuana has been at the forefront of American minds mostly as the “gateway” drug into harder drugs, or even as a drug that was on par with cocaine or meth. Thus, during the 1980s, marijuana, along with other substances that are usually considered more “hard”, were banned at the federal level (as a schedule 1 substance) as part of the war on drugs. Since then, thousands of people have been caught with marijuana in their possession, and usually minority men are more likely to be found with marijuana. 
While marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, several states already have removed several restrictions, with some states outright legalizing cannabis, while other decriminalize possession of marijuana or allow medical marijuana.
Through the 1980s, approximately seventy-three percent of Americans believed that marijuana should not be legalized. But in 2013, fifty-eight percent of Americans believed that marijuana should be legalized. In this 2013 poll, 65+ and older are the sole age group who are still mostly against marijuana legalization. When this age group was in their twenties, marijuana was associated with the countercultural movement. Other age groups, all younger than this 65+ age bracket, have presumably lost the stigma against marijuana, especially in an age where marijuana is commonly seen as possibly medicinal in use. While marijuana is a substance that could possibly cause withdrawal symptoms if a heavy user stopped using it, its rates of addiction are not as high as alcohol or as nicotine.
The Obama administration has held off on widely enforcing federal drug laws relating to marijuana, due to Democrats and independents being sixty percent in favor of legalization of marijuana, in contrast to the Bush Administration, which would crack down on dispensaries. Thirty-three percent of Republicans are in favor of legalization of marijuana, reflecting a more socially conservative attitude towards drugs in general.
As stated in the previous blog entry regarding a newly libertarian youth, the attitudes of Americans are shifting to a more libertarian bent, with more and more Americans being skeptical of government intervention in both personal lives and the economy. Similar to how Americans are skeptical of how Mayor Bloomberg banned soda (“If people are going to get fat, they should be allowed to do so on their own”), Americans, with their transitioning opinions of the effects of marijuana, have seen a transition in their perspective on whether marijuana should be legalized. In California, a ballot initiative should come up in 2014; in New York, marijuana legalization is being considered, if only to minimize stop-and-frisk encounters where minorities are targeted. The inevitable conflict between federal and state law will lead to a possible Supreme Court case in which states’ rights will be weighed against the federal government’s authority.
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