Already in 2016, there have been plenty of missions around the country in the fight against legalization of marijuana. So far, there have been over 50 initiatives in place around the United States in an effort to legalize or at least decriminalize the substance for either medical or recreational purposes.
So far, cannabis is legal for both recreational and medical use in Washington State, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska. In Washington DC, it is legal to use for recreational and medical use too but it is not available to purchase.
There are a further 20 states who have opted to legalize marijuana for medical purposes too. These states are:
• New Hampshire
• New Jersey
• New Mexico
• New York
• Rhode Island
Despite so many states choosing to legalize the substance to some degree, these decisions have done nothing to alter the viewpoint of the Federal Government who maintains that using marijuana for any purpose is still a federal offense.
It looks like, over the remainder of the year, an additional 10 states could see pot legalized for recreational use as well as medicinal purposes. This would be a major breakthrough for supporters. There were an additional 7 states that had been in talks about the legalization for recreational use of the drug, but unfortunately, those states missed the deadline or they didn’t make it past the consideration stage. It’s thought that medical marijuana could be allowed in Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee before 2016 is out.
There are big hopes that 2016 will be a successful year for marijuana legalization, especially as it is an election year. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, a group backing six of the states aiming to legalize marijuana, presidential election years encourage more young people to get involved. With more young people thinking about politics and learning more about legislation and other issues, 2016 is likely to be a good year for marijuana legalization.
In addition to the states considering legalizing medical or recreational marijuana, there are also 15 states that have considered decriminalizing marijuana this year. Although 6 of these states have missed their deadlines to put forward a change in this law, this could still mean benefits for those states. It would mean that although the states may not have laws in place for citizens being allowed to use marijuana, people would not be prosecuted for possessing small amounts of the substance or using it. It should be noted however, that although there are 15 states considering decriminalizing marijuana, this does not mean that those states are any closer to legalizing it and are more than likely not even considering it. This makes the possibility of legalization for either medical or recreational purposes a little less hopeful for citizens of those states.
Despite some believing that decriminalization will do very little for those states considering it, some believe that both decriminalization and legalization are both highly advantageous to the state’s economy. Even President Barack Obama has identified the costs that would be saved by the United States if fewer people were incarcerated due to minor cannabis related offenses. Even if marijuana isn’t legalized at all in certain states, simply decriminalizing it could still be enough to make big savings across the US.
In recent months, it’s not only been Liberal Democrats who have been seeing the economical and ethical reasons why prohibiting marijuana isn’t a sensible idea. Even some from the Republican Party have admitted that it is expensive to incarcerate individuals. With more people in the government understanding the cost implications that criminalization has on the country. This could mean a shift in focus from complete prohibition to at least decriminalization.
Although there have been significant changes in the opinions of members of the US government when it comes to marijuana, the marijuana movement has still lost one of it’s main supporters. The chairman of Progressive Insurance, Peter Lewis has donated over $40 million to multiple marijuana campaigns over the years since the 1980s passed away in 2013. Whilst there are still several generous investors stepping forward to try to fill his place, we still don’t yet know if they will be able to offer enough to keep the motion moving forward towards success. Despite three of the main marijuana project groups and 6 deep-pocketed individuals donating as much as possible towards the cause, there still doesn’t seem to be nearly enough money available to fight the federal government.
It would seem that the only thing to do now is to wait for the result of the Presidential Election to find out what the future holds for cannabis within America.