The use, sale and possession of cannabis (marijuana) in the United States is illegal under federal law. However, some states have created exemptions for medical cannabis use, as well as decriminalized non-medical cannabis use. In two states, Colorado and Washington, the sale and possession of marijuana is legal for both medical and non-medical use. This law however is up in the air for the time being as the states have one year to write laws on distribution and regulation of marijuana.]clarification needed[. Multiple efforts to reschedule cannabis under the Act have failed, and the United States Supreme Court has ruled in United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative and Gonzales v. Raich that the federal government has a right to regulate and criminalize cannabis. Also, if the cannabis is called "medical cannabis" the federal law still has priority.
In July 2009, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, further clarified the federal government's position when he stated that "marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit" and that "legalization is not in the president's vocabulary, and it's not in mine." However, a January 2010 settlement between the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) provides an example confirming the administration policy as communicated by Attorney General Holder, as WAMM reached an agreement to re-open after being shut down by the federal government in 2002.
The Compassionate Investigational New Drug program, or Compassionate IND, is a United States Federal Government-run Investigational New Drug program that allows a limited number of patients to use medical marijuana grown at the University of Mississippi. It is administered by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Closed to new entrants, there are only four surviving patients who were grandfathered into the program.
The origins of the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Study program began in 1976 after Robert Randall brought a lawsuit (Randall v. U.S) against the Food and Drug Administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Health, Education & Welfare. Randall, afflicted with glaucoma, had successfully used the Common Law doctrine of necessity to argue against charges of marijuana cultivation because it was deemed a medical necessity (U.S. v. Randall). On November 24, 1976, federal Judge James Washington ruled:
Cannabis smoking is the inhalation of smoke or vapors released by heating the flowers, leaves, or extracts of cannabis. Smoking releases the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is absorbed into the bloodstream via the lungs.
Cannabis can be smoked, vaporized, consumed orally or applied to the skin; the bioavailability characteristics and effects of smoking and vaporizing cannabis differ from other consumption methods in having a more rapid and predictable onset of effect.
The legality of cannabis varies from country to country. Possession of cannabis is illegal in most countries and has been since the beginning of widespread cannabis prohibition in the late 1930s. However, many countries have decriminalized the possession of small quantities of cannabis, particularly in North America, South America and Europe. Furthermore, possession is legal or effectively legal in the Netherlands, North Korea and in the U.S. states of Colorado (Colorado Amendment 64) and Washington (Washington Initiative 502) as the federal government has indicated that it will not attempt to block enactment of legalization in those states.
The medicinal use of cannabis is legal in a number of countries, including Canada, the Czech Republic and Israel. While federal law in the United States bans all sale and possession of cannabis, enforcement varies widely at the state level and some states have established medicinal marijuana programs that contradict federal law—Colorado and Washington have repealed their laws prohibiting the recreational use of cannabis, and have instated a regulatory regime that is contrary to federal statutes.