Social Justice and Medical Equity through Federal Legalization of Marijuana

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Tija M. Passley John M. Purcell German Torres Joerg R. Leheste


Most Americans are living with state-sanctioned cannabis jurisdiction permitting medicinal, and often, recreational use. Yet, cannabis and its cannabinoids remain on schedule-I of the controlled substances act (CSA), imposing hurdles to much needed research and promulgating outdated ‘War on Drugs’ policies and their disproportionate impact on minorities. Recent advances by the current government to decriminalize past federal cannabis possession convictions and the encouragement to State Governors to follow suit are within the current political climate and public opinion but fall short during times of an ever- faster expansion of cannabis legislation and access by the individual states. Opposing views on federal cannabis legalization have precipitated an indeterminate situation between federal and state legislation prompting inconsistent decision-making, social injustice, and health inequities across the country. The latter can be exemplified by the inconsistencies of qualifying conditions and availability of cannabis for medicinal use. Now, under the new 118th U.S. Congress, it becomes ever more important to re-focus on legislative opportunities such as the ‘Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2021’ which had been previously passed by the House of Representatives on April 1st, 2022, under the 117th Congress (2021-22). This bill aims to de-schedule and decriminalize use, possession, distribution, sale, and production of medical cannabis on the federal level. Through establishing cannabis business equity and loan programs, it seeks to promote social justice for communities disproportionately affected by the ‘War on Drugs’. This health policy research brief provides a comprehensive view of stakeholder perspectives and positions, as well as potential benefits and drawbacks - all with a historical perspective.

Keywords: War on Drugs, Decriminalization, Societal Equity, Medical Equity, Congressional Bill, U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, U.S. Congress, Cannabis (Marijuana), Marijuana

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How to Cite
PASSLEY, Tija M. et al. Social Justice and Medical Equity through Federal Legalization of Marijuana. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 11, n. 3, mar. 2023. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 20 apr. 2024. doi:
Research Articles


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