State Legalization of Recreational Marijuana: Selected Legal Issues [January 13, 2014] [open pdf - 455KB]
"May a state authorize the use of marijuana for recreational purposes even if such use is forbidden by federal law? This novel and unresolved legal question has vexed judges, politicians, and legal scholars, and it has also generated considerable public debate among supporters and opponents of 'legalizing' the recreational use of marijuana. Under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana are prohibited for any reason other than to engage in federally approved research. Yet 18 states and the District of Columbia currently exempt qualified users of medicinal marijuana from penalties imposed under state law. In addition, in November 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize, regulate, and tax small amounts of marijuana for nonmedicinal (so-called 'recreational') use by individuals over the age of 21. […] Finally, the report closes with a description of selected legislative proposals introduced in the 113th Congress relating to the treatment of marijuana under federal law, including H.R. 499 (Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013); H.R. 501 (Marijuana Tax Equity Act of 2013); H.R. 689 (States' Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act); H.R. 710 (Truth in Trials Act); H.R. 784 (States' Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act); H.R. 964 (Respect States' and Citizens' Rights Act of 2013); H.R. 1523 (Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013); H.R. 1635 (National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy Act of 2013); and H.R. 2652 (Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2013)."
CRS Report for Congress, R43034