Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Human Services


Marijuana legalization began approximately 29 years ago but legalization has only gained momentum in recent years. Most states in the US have enacted laws allowing for medical marijuana or recreational marijuana use. These laws have all been enacted with the past 20 years and highlighted the complicated issue of legalization of once heavily controlled substances. Minnesota is now beginning the process of legalizing recreational use of marijuana and introduced legislation. Legalization has brought with it public health and safety concerns as well as ethical dilemmas. The specific concerns about an increase in driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI), crashes, heightened criminality, and adolescent access have been inconclusive. The Ethical contradictions between state and federal law will need to be resolved for legal continuity. Medical practitioners will also need to come to a consensus on the benefits and dangers of prescribed marijuana. Medical marijuana studies have not produced long-term data to confirm its ongoing benefit.

Law enforcement should be one of the leaders in the legalization debate based on the history of the state and federal enforcement of marijuana and their continued enforcement of preceding changes in marijuana laws.