Marijuana legalization has been spreading like a very slow forest fire in America over the past few years. It began with the great experiment in Colorado and Washington, and the overflowing tax revenue generated from legal marijuana sales caught a lot of other states’ attentions.
Since the initial experiment, Washington D.C., Alaska, and Oregon have joined the recreational bandwagon. 23 states allow medical marijuana, and 51 percent of Americans believe it should be legalized (compared to a percentage in the teens during a 1969 poll).
This snapshot seems to say that legalization is moving forward in America, and that there may come a time in the near future where it will be just as popular as other perfectly legal, recreational substances. However, as Yahoo! News pointed out, all of that progress could be swept away depending on who ends up in the White House after the next election.
How President Obama Made This Experiment Possible
Marijuana is still considered an illegal, controlled substance under federal law. Federal law supersedes state law, but when the vote was taken in Washington and Colorado, Obama said that the federal government will not be using its authority to countermand the will of those states. Given that most of the president’s recent pardons and commuted sentences have been for non-violent drug offenders in federal prison, it’s quite clear where his stance on the issue is.
But what about the next president?
The president’s choice not to enforce federal laws on marijuana use and possession is the only reason legal marijuana is flourishing the way it is. If the next president decides that marijuana is a threat to the nation, and that the drug war should continue on the way it has, then he or she will have the full authority to make that happen until marijuana is taken off the list of federally controlled substances.
Will that happen? Well, that depends on who gets elected.
With over 20 presidential candidates before the primaries (16 or so on the Republican side), there are a lot of opinions on marijuana medicinally, and recreationally. Medical Jane has collected statements and evaluations of the candidates right here, in case you’re someone who’d consider marijuana stance when voting.
Neither party toes a clear line when it comes to marijuana, so take each candidate as they come. Most candidates from both sides tend to give lukewarm stances, and most are in favor for allowing the states to continue to dictate their own marijuana legislation.
Find out if your state has legalized marijuana here.
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