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As more and more states legalize the use of marijuana, the stigma of using it seems to be dwindling. You may believe that such acceptance of marijuana in many parts of the country means that law enforcement will not take the offense as seriously.

This may be true in some parts of the country, but what about Wisconsin law enforcement, where marijuana is still illegal? 

Popularity of Marijuana

First off, it does look like marijuana is gaining acceptability across the nation. A recent poll showed that 82 percent of people 18 and older have tried marijuana at some point and 44 percent of them still use it. The stereotype of a lazy and paranoid marijuana user seems to be fading away.

For many people, the primary function of marijuana is to increase relaxation during social occasions. The messages many adults heard while growing up stating that marijuana is harmful, does not seem to resonate with them anymore.

Right now, marijuana is legal in 33 states and Washington D.C. But from the perspective of the federal government, it is still illegal.

Medical Marijuana

The explosion of states allowing marijuana for medical purposes can also be attributed to its national growing acceptance. Marijuana has become popular with many people who say it relieves chronic pain and other medical problems.

An individual still needs a doctor to prescribe medical marijuana, but it appears that more people who would not normally use marijuana might use it for medical reasons.

How does law enforcement view marijuana?

One indication that law enforcement is not ready to look away from users of marijuana can be found from the Twitter account of a police department in Wyoming, Minnesota. On April 20, 2017, they tweeted out a humorous photo of a police officer trying to catch a marijuana user.

The post was not only popular with the general public, but also with other police departments who sent out tweets saying they were on the lookout for marijuana offenders too. Not all the warnings sent that day from the police used a comic slant to send an anti-marijuana message.

A sheriff's office in Virginia used their Facebook page to tell parents to look for marijuana in their child's possessions and asked people not to discuss if marijuana should be legalized in the comment section. Most of the law enforcement messages on social media focused on driving under the influence and not so much on actually using it.

The use and acceptance of marijuana may be growing across the country, but that does not mean the police are giving it a pass. The fact that using marijuana may be acceptable among your family and friends does not mean your local Wisconsin police department will feel the same.

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Kirk Obear, Attorney at Law
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Sheboygan, WI 53081

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