While there are certainly many reasons to be concerned about the direction of the United States in many areas, it cannot be denied that the cannabis community is experiencing a golden age of political victories. Supporters of sensible cannabis laws have many reasons to celebrate this week as primary electoral victories on Tuesday (just a week after Canada passed the Cannabis Act!) were followed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introducing the Marijuana Justice and Opportunity Act on Wednesday.
This past Tuesday, 55% of voters in deep-red, conservative Oklahoma voted to legalize medical cannabis in a June primary election. (OKLAHOMA! In a low-turnout primary election!) Oklahoma became the 30th state to pass a medical cannabis law, with the promising possibility that the conservative states of Utah and Missouri will be joining the compassionate, science-based club this November when Michigan is likely to pass full legalization as well.
The cannabis community won huge in Democratic primaries on Tuesday with the upset win by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Bernie Sanders organizer, and gubernatorial primary victories by Ben Jealous (Maryland) and Jared Polis (Colorado). Polis has been a steadfast legalization supporter in Congress, Jealous has unabashedly touted his support to end cannabis prohibition while campaigning with comedian Dave Chapelle, and Ocasio-Cortez made ending the Drug War a part of her progressive political platform.
Vox’s German Lopez examined why this has been a banner year for the cannabis movement detailing the current situation and what the future may hold in his piece, “Marijuana legalization is having its best year ever“:
There’s a reason for all of this: Poll after poll has found that marijuana legalization is very popular. Gallup put support for recreational legalization at 64 percent among US adults late last year. Medical marijuana legalization is favored even more — polling as high as the 80s.
For marijuana, it’s more remarkable because this is all happening even as certain parts of the government, especially Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s Department of Justice, try to fight legal cannabis by threatening federal prosecution against state-legal pot businesses. But there’s so much support for legalization that state lawmakers and voters are essentially shrugging off those federal efforts. (Even President Donald Trump now appears to be going against his Justice Department on this issue by potentially backing Gardner’s bill.)
Now, a majority of states still don’t allow marijuana for recreational purposes, with just nine doing so for now — so there’s still a lot of room for change. But as the pace in the states keeps up, and as moves like California’s and Canada’s give extra support to the legalization movement, it sure seems like all the pieces have come together and the drug policy reform movement now has, in what would’ve been unthinkable just years ago, a big advantage on marijuana.
It is a great time to be a cannabis legalization supporter as the wind is at our backs and we just need to keep on working hard. Yes, we still have a ways to go and there are many hurdles and obstacles ahead of us, even when we win, such as overly restrictive regulatory hurdles, but we are winning the war waged upon the cannabis community step by step, state by state, and even nation by nation. Let’s keep the momentum, and victories, going until we are all truly equal and free.
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