How far is the US from federally legalizing marijuana?
Despite having 23 states where medical marijuana is legal and four other more where its recreational use won’t make someone incarcerated, seeing it federally permissible seems farfetched. A large fraction of the US remains not in favor of marijuana’s legalization, and at least 11 states from this segment are adamant on continuously categorizing its possession as a felonious offense.
According to Mason Tvert, director of communications with the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), religion, historical immigration patterns, a range of cultural factors, and existing rules on making marijuana usage very low, are the key factors that hinder its possible legalization. “There is little doubt marijuana prohibition laws are deterring many adults from choosing to use marijuana,” he told USA Today. The three states least likely to permit the use of the weed for any purpose could be Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia, as these areas have the largest percentage of religious and conservative voters in the country.
However, it doesn’t mean that the fight for its decriminalization isn’t advancing.
In Vermont, a state whose population is predominantly liberal, state representatives are now set to emulate the state senate’s move on passing a bill on cannabis legalization. If this bill successfully obtains approval from the state congress, Vermont can be the first US state to end marijuana prohibition through legislation instead of a voter initiative like what Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska did in the past.
“It makes for a much more thoughtful and measured approach. We got to work out the details, we got to ask the questions first and put the whole infrastructure in place before it happens,” State Senator Jeanette White told Reuters. The only obstacle is the deadline in which the state congress is expected to act before May ends, which congressmen deemed hard to beat. On the other hand, Vermont’s democrat segment is confident that it still could pass the law should they end up resorting to the ballots as a recent poll by Vermont Public Radio revealed that only 32 percent of its voting population opposes marijuana legalization.
Activists in D.C. are also fighting for a larger cause after winning a battle on allowing the district’s residents in 2015 to own and cultivate a certain amount of weed in their own backyard. It is now eyeing legalization even in federally owned areas, which makes it possible for D.C. residents to carry their own pot outside their homes and anywhere in the district.
However, activists are saying that it’s more than just being able to carry pot anywhere, as obtaining a dialogue from the authority could pave the way for a larger decriminalization of the medical plant.
Last week, many marijuana advocates celebrated the Supreme Court’s move on refusing to take up a lawsuit that Oklahoma and Nebraska filed against Colorado’s decision to legalize pot. The two states say that Colorado’s decision has augmented marijuana flow in their respective states that forced them to put more efforts in law enforcement and search for more penal system resources to suppress and bring it back to past levels.
“A state does not violate the sovereign rights of another state, by making a policy decision that parts ways with its neighbors. Entertaining the type of dispute at issue here—essentially that one state’s laws make it more likely that third parties will violate federal and state law in another state—would represent a substantial and unwarranted expansion of the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction,” said the Colorado court, saying that Nebraska and Oklahoma’s real enemy is the federal state and not Colorado, as it remains resolute on not acting against cases of small possession in states where cannabis use has just recently permitted.
Indeed, more Americans are now seeing the other side of the once-hated medical plant. A recent study published by AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research reveals that almost 61 percent of Americans today agree that it should be decriminalized, a record-high and up by 2 percent from last October.
“This is yet another demonstration of just how ready Americans are for the end of marijuana prohibition,” Tom Angell, a member of the cannabis reform-focused organization Marijuana Majority, told The Washington Post. “The growing level of support for legalization that we see in poll after poll is exactly why we’re now in a situation—for the first time in history—where every major presidential candidate in both parties has pledged to let states set their own marijuana laws without federal interference.”
It also helps that even small startup firms are helping to change public’s negative notion of pot. Med-X, a company focused on producing research-based marijuana products, believes that it’s the company’s responsibility to reveal the other side of cannabis—its many benefits—to its naysayers and foes. The company has been educating the public on such through The Marijuana Times, its media arm. It; actually plans to expand its advocacies and brand reach through a fund sourcing on StartEngine.
The continuous advancements in various states might not be fast enough to see a federally marijuana-legal nation, but these are all essential in witnessing such an accomplishment in the near future.
One of the possible aspects that other states might see is the growing investments in the sector, which could help in expanding their respective state budgets. By 2020, medical marijuana revenue is expected to reach $23 billion, as reported by USA Today. Also, it can still grow beyond the forecasted figure should more states emulate the 27 states’ move on its legalization, as well as if the majority of the recently founded marijuana-focused enterprise becomes successful.