It has been widely reported over the past few years that attitudes towards marijuana have gradually shifted. The benefits of smoking it for medical purposes are more widely scientifically proven than ever before, and it has become obvious that patients suffering from a variety of illnesses and issues can benefit from using cannabis in controlled amounts. Equally, the perceived risk of legalising the drug to teens and young adults has been reduced due to statistics on legalisation being linked to lower use among teens, if anything.
As a result, overall public opinion on marijuana law has changed since the 1990s. Most surveys and polls show that the majority of people in the USA, as well as the UK, would be in favour of full legalisation for the drug, for both medical and recreational use. There are arguments to be made about the relative safety of smoking marijuana compared to the much higher risks of other illegal drugs, and comparisons to the legality and dangers of cigarette smoking and alcohol have been made. All signs point to public views being overall on the side of making marijuana legal.
However, for politicians the issue seems to be more complicated. In the USA, reportedly one in four legislators would support a total ban on marijuana in the entire country, despite more than half of American states currently allowing medical use in some situations. Although this is a minority, so far it has been enough to prevent any major legislative changes.
The major problem is that many people consider the current views of people in power not reflective of the overall public viewpoint, which ultimately leads to concerns about whether the laws passed (or not passed) in the near future will be in the public’s best interests or not. Many people will argue that political reform is necessary before we can expect major changes for marijuana law.