The decriminalization of marijuana has gained a high profile supporter. On April 20, The Washington Times reported that Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will propose a bill that would no longer list Marijuana as a federally controlled substance. According to Business Insider, nine states allow the use of recreational marijuana and 29 states allow the use of medical marijuana. As with any topic, there are two sides to the argument of the decriminalization or legalization of marijuana. Some believe that it is no more dangerous than smoking or drinking, and some see it as a gateway drug; a substance that will open doorways to different, and stronger drugs for the users.

How is marijuana classified at the Federal level?

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) categorizes drugs and substances into five schedules; schedule 5 drugs have the least chance for dependency, and schedule 1 drugs have the greatest chance for dependency. Marijuana is classified as a schedule 1 drug along with heroin, LSD, methaqualone, ecstasy, and peyote. According to the DEA, marijuana is considered a schedule 1 substance. Which means it is dangerous and addictive and does not have any form of medical value.

Is marijuana as dangerous as LSD, heroin, and other schedule 1 drugs?

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine entitled Adverse health effects of marijuana, cited a survey from 2012 which reported that of people 12 years and older 2.7 million met the criteria for being addicted to marijuana based on standards set by the DSM IV.

That same study also stated that there were 8.6 million people who met the criteria for alcohol dependence. The study also mentioned that there were adverse effects on the functional connectivity of the brain if the individual began smoking marijuana as an adolescent. This could explain the increased use of marijuana in adulthood and declines in IQ.

The same study also stated that there was not yet any conclusive evidence on whether marijuana is linked to lung cancer.

Do Americans favor the legalization of Marijuana?

The Pew Research center conducted a survey in October of last year and concluded that about 61 percent or six in 10 Americans support the legalization of marijuana.

That number is up from around a year ago when the number was 51 percent and has increased drastically since 2000 when the number was 31 percent. Based on this research it would seem as time has passed more and more Americans are coming around to the idea of legal marijuana.