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Will Marijuana Use Become Legal Nationwide?

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The U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage raises some interesting questions about another taboo that is losing its might almost as rapidly. Almost half the states have already enacted legislation making it legal to use marijuana either for medical or recreational purposes. That total is likely to rise next year when seven more states vote on initiatives that would make marijuana use legal. Is there a tipping point approaching where Congress will be forced to act?

Although the Supremes did not say as much in their 5-4 decision on marriage, the fact is that the court was simply putting its imprimatur on a practice that was already legal in more than two-thirds of the states. And while the analogy with legal cannabis is hard to miss, there are some significant differences.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released its 2015 world report on Friday and the data are not entirely friendly to the cause of legalization:

Evidence suggests that more drug users are suffering from cannabis use disorders, and that cannabis may be becoming more harmful, as reflected in the high proportion of persons seeking first-time treatment in several regions of the world.

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The UN report is based on 2013 data — the most recent available — and indicates, for example, that the United States leads the world in the quantity of herbal marijuana seized by drug enforcement agencies in 2013. The United States also leads by a factor of two in the eradication of outdoor cannabis plants (more than 4 million) and by a factor of nearly four in the eradication of indoor cannabis plants.

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