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Marijuana use in the United States is a controversial topic, in part because laws vary from state to state.

Marijuana use in the United States is a controversial topic, in part because laws vary from state to state.

Marijuana use in the United States is a controversial topic, in part because laws vary from state to state. In some states, it is completely legal; in others, it is completely illegal. There are also states where the distinction is blurred, where marijuana is legalized for medicinal purposes or decriminalized. View this Map of Marijuana Legality by State for an overview of how laws vary.

In this discussion, we will explore how laws affect discretionary decisions in criminal justice. First, research the marijuana laws in your state:

  • Go to State Laws
  • Click on your state
  • Under “Criminal Laws,” click on “Marijuana Laws”

Next, read the scenario below and consider your discretionary powers regarding the laws:

You are a police officer on routine patrol in the state where you reside. It’s 11:00 p.m. and while touring your beat, you observe a woman standing on the sidewalk smoking a “joint.” After conducting a field interview, you discover the woman is directly in front of her home, is 45 years of age, and smokes recreationally. The only marijuana she has in her possession is the joint, which is less than 10 grams. Depending on the state you live in, you have several options for how to proceed. What do you do?

In your initial post, provide a brief overview of the marijuana laws in your state. Be sure to cite any laws using APA style. Describe how you would proceed in the scenario above. Explain how the marijuana laws in your state affect your decision. Do the laws limit your discretionary power? How do the laws inhibit or rely on discretion? What situational or external factors may affect your decision?

In your response to two of your peers, state if you agree or disagree with how they would proceed in the scenario and explain why, keeping in mind the marijuana laws in their state. You may also want to provide additional rationale regarding how the laws inhibit or rely on discretion, or external factors to consider. Remember to always be respectful when replying to peers, even if you do not agree with their stance or rationale.


DISA Global Solutions. (2019). Map of Marijuana Legality by State. Retrieved from Laws. (2019). Retrieved from

To complete this assignment, review the Discussion Rubric document

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