America is going green
We’re talking about marijuana,
mary jane, pot, reefer, weed, ganja…whatever you call it, over 66% of Americans support legalizing it.
And for the first time ever,
2017 saw a majority of Republicans join Democrats in supporting the movement
So why the change of heart? And what does it mean for legalization?
Medical marijuana was first legalized in California in 1996,
and in 2012, Colorado and Washington approved pot for recreational use.
33 states have passed some form of legal marijuana in the years since.
After the 2018 midterms,
Michigan became the first state in the Midwest, and tenth state in addition to Washington DC, to legalize pot for medicinal and recreational uses.
Utah and Missouri approved the legalization of pot for medicinal use.
How legalization will be implemented and regulated has proven to be tricky in GOP run conservative states, let’s start with Utah.
Now, Utah has a medical cannabis program. So what does that mean for patients?
After voters passed the medical marijuana ballot initiative by 53 percent,
lawmakers convene to rewrite the law.
The new replacement bill narrows the list of qualifying patients for the drug and limits its distribution and sales in the state.
Similarly in June,
Oklahoma’s governor okayed rules that restricted another voter approved medical marijuana law, requiring all
dispensaries to have a licensed pharmacist and placing a limit on the potency of the drug given to patients.
Republicans in Oklahoma and Utah cite concerns over public health.
And so, we’ve recognized with the proposition
number two that there, In fact, there are some legitimate concerns about the initiative.
We agree to find something that protects public safety, but doesn’t over-regulate it either.
But while Republicans are not making it easy to access pot, they’re not denying the economic and political benefits they see of legalizing it.
In 2017, the cannabis industry made about nine billion dollars in revenue and paid approximately
1.4 billion in state taxes.
Additionally, Republicans are accepting more donations from the marijuana industry than ever before. And in 2017,
Marijuana lobbyists donated more to Republicans than to Democrats.
Finally, Republicans seem keenly aware that their soon-to-be largest voting bloc is overwhelmingly pro-pot:
74 percent of millennials support legalization.
Meanwhile, the GOP’s legalization movement has largely ignored criminal justice reforms,
one of the main drivers of the original effort.
In 2017, there were over
650,000 arrests from marijuana law violations. These arrests disproportionately affect people of color.
Study after study has shown roughly equal rates of use across races yet, between 2001 and
2010, African Americans were nearly four times as likely to be arrested for possession than their white counterparts.
In New York City, that disparity is more than double, but there’s a high price for criminalizing marijuana use.
States spend about 3.6 billion dollars on enforcing marijuana laws each year.
With public opinion rapidly changing, widespread legalization is more a matter of when than if.
In 2019, a new group of pro-legalization governors will take their seats in Illinois, Minnesota,
New Mexico, and Wisconsin, making it easier for pot bills to be signed into law in those states.
Even President Donald Trump has come out in favor of legalization,
As far as drug legalization, we talk about marijuana and
in terms of medical, I think I am basically for that. I’ve heard some wonderful things in terms of medical.
With the increasing bipartisan support for marijuana,
some people predict that it could be legal under federal law by 2020.
But while the war on drugs may be ending for marijuana, the battle over access and distribution is about to begin.
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