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Marijuana's march toward mainstream confounds feds

  • FILE - This May 6, 2013 file photo shows medical marijuana demonstrators holding up signs outside of the Federal Courthouse in Sacramento, Calif. The California Supreme Court ruled that cities and counties can ban medical marijuana dispensaries, a decision likely to further diminish the network of storefront pot shops and fuel efforts to have the state regulate the industry. It took 50 years for American attitudes about marijuana to zigzag from the paranoia of "Reefer Madness" to the excesses of Woodstock back to the hard line of Just Say No. And now, in just a few short years, public opinion has shifted so dramatically toward pragmatic acceptance of marijuana that even those who champion legalization are surprised at how quickly attitudes are changing and states are moving to approve the drug for medical use and just for fun. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater, File)

WASHINGTON — It took 50 years for American attitudes about marijuana to zigzag from the paranoia of "Reefer Madness" to the excesses of Woodstock back to the hard line of "Just Say No."

The next 25 years took the nation from Bill Clinton, who famously "didn't inhale," to Barack Obama, who most emphatically did.

And now, in just a few short years, public opinion has moved so dramatically toward general acceptance that even those who champion legalization are surprised at how quickly attitudes are changing and states are moving to approve the drug — for medical use and just for fun.

It is a moment in America that is rife with contradictions:

—People are looking more kindly on marijuana even as science reveals more about the drug's potential dangers, particularly for young people.


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