The marijuana legalization movement is very very important. But, is it the most important issue facing the United States at the moment. Definitely not. Immigration is on people’s mind more now than maybe ever before. We all watched BREXIT happen a couple of years ago in England and our country voted in President Trump whose biggest focus is immigration. Mass shootings occurring at schools and other public venues has everyone on the edge of their seats. There are still massive racial issues here in the U.S. too. And, of course the normal concerns about the economy, racism, healthcare and the employment are still there. Marijuana does not even make it onto Gallup’s list of top concerns here in the states.
Some of us might get a little lost in our passion to see the end of marijuana prohibition. There are many important issues tied into the legalization of cannabis though such as the injustice of non-violent marijuana possession arrests and how they negatively impact the rest of a person’s life. In the 30 states that have medical marijuana and the 9 states that have adult-use cannabis, people are seeing big positive financial impact upon their lives as tax revenue goes to projects like improving public schools and roads. And maybe most importantly are all of the medicinal benefits of cannabis which seem to be solving a lot of the chronic pain, insomnia, PTSD, seizure, autism and opioid epidemic problems facing the country.
Anti-marijuana groups want to argue that the desire for marijuana legalization is not something affecting voters’ decisions in the ballot box. The founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, Kevin Sabet, told a reporter from PoliticoMagazine concerning voters’ decisions, “I highly doubt marijuana is going to be a determinative factor for enough voters to change an election. And really, it’s a minority of people, like a big minority of people. … I’ve never seen marijuana swing any kind of election. It’s such a low priority vote.”
That may be wishful thinking on the part of Sabet. Look at Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb who ran hard on a platform for medical marijuana and won by a margin of less than 1,000 votes. Look at the progress that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has made winning the primary in New York while fighting hard for cannabis legalization. Most recently, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida just backed the legalization of marijuana. Jim Nelson is a former astronaut and marijuana would probably be the last thing on his mind if it was not such a big issue in Florida. The current governor of Florida, Rick Scott, is running for Nelson’s senate seat, but Scott just went against more than two-thirds of Florida voters by appealing a decision made by a judge that decided the ban on smoking medical marijuana is unconstitutional.
The awareness being spread about cannabis that is clearing away all the propaganda that has demonized cannabis for so long is impacting even those that do not care to consume marijuana. Understanding that alcohol consumption is much worse for consumers than cannabis, seeing the medicinal benefits of cannabis and having the injustice of prohibition brought to everyone’s attention is changing people’s minds. Perhaps the nonsensical rantings of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the cannabis issue is also providing clarity for many voters as well. While a politician may have many issues on their agenda, it may be marijuana that is the difference maker for whether they make it into office or not.
Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAutismcannabis politicschronic painInsomniajeff sessionskevin sabetopioid epidemicptsdRick ScottSen. Jim NelsonSmart Approaches to Marijuanatax revenuevoters