The United States on Marijuana
Whether you’re on a psychoactive-induced excursion with your buddy to the nearest White Castle two towns over or enjoying Mary Jane after getting fired on your day off. Marijuana is becoming a popularized commodity throughout the entire United States. With an increasingly high level of American support for the legalization of marijuana, as well as other Americans advocating for the decriminalization of it. Notably, more and more states, such as New York and Virginia, are slowly allowing the lawful use of marijuana for both medical and recreational practices.
Be that as it may, a small percentage of fewer than 10% of Americans are in opposition toward the collective majority of Americans supporting the legalization of medical and recreational use of marijuana. In solid-Republican states, such as Wyoming or Idaho, these conservative communities have completely disbanded from most Americans by upholding the federal prohibition of cannabis products.
Nonetheless, the political divide between Americans on issues regarding marijuana gravitates toward two-thirds of both Republicans and Democrats leaning in favor of legalizing marijuana practices. At the same time, a small minority of Americans lean in opposition to allowing the public sale and distribution of cannabis products.
Such states like Wyoming have a complete no-tolerance policy regarding the illicit use of marijuana, whether it be for medicinal or recreational purposes. As a result, smoking a doobie (i.e., a marijuana cigarette) in the states of Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Wyoming will cost you, give or take, how much you acquire or sell.
In Kansas and South Carolina, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana results in a misdemeanor. While as in states like Alabama, driving under the influence of marijuana can cause your license to be revoked as the result of the Solomon-Lautenberg amendment.“Smoke a joint, lose your license.”
“Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.”
– President Jimmy Carter
A New Growing Culture
Be that as it may, most liberal-leaning states, such as California and Colorado, have allowed for the recreational and medicinal use of cannabis products. In addition to passing legislation, progressives states, for example, New Jersey and New York, are continually advocating for the expungement of past convictions relating to marijuana offenses. For instance, states calling for the decriminalization of marijuana offenses (past or present) make up less than two-thirds of our nation. Thus leaving behind a minority of 19 states that abide by federal legislation — which classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug.
With this in mind, a number of politicians and senators, such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris, advocate in support of federal legislation that disbands the illicit use of marijuana. In addition, as marijuana continues to grow into the weeds of public interest, many politicians in opposition to marijuana legalization are finding it more challenging to combat this new status quo. As Steven Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, says in a RollingStone’s interview,
“Most lawmakers are going to respond for their constituents…Every state that passes adult-use means you’re going to gain members of Congress, you’re going to gain two U.S. senators. Even if they don’t become champions, they’re not going to vote no for something their constituents have come to embrace.”
In a word, the new thing to embrace in this modern age is the lawful use of cannabis products nationally.
Let The States Decide
Not only are there politicians in opposition to this new status quo, but also there remain a few legislators that are not entirely against the way things are. That is to say, political figures, including Michael Bloomberg, Donald Trump, and our president Joe Biden, remain in the position of maintaining the status quo and allowing states to decide for themselves.
Despite Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg’s past convictions against marijuana offenses, such as Bloomberg in 2017 addressing the legalization of marijuana as “…the stupidest thing we’ve ever done”. Likewise, in an interview with ABC in 2010, president Joe Biden claimed that allowing the lawful use of this gateway drug “…would be a mistake to legalize”.
“In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state. Marijuana is such a big thing. I think medical should. And then I believe we should leave it up to the states.”
However, these statesmen are not in the position of advocating for an implementation of federal policies that dispose of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. This is to say that these legislators, knowing the increasing demand for cannabis products, understand this new status quo and decide to leave this issue in the hands of state officials. As opposed to making an executive order, as Bernie Sanders proposed, to uplift the federal prohibition of marijuana.
Recent States Taking Action
In conjunction with allowing states to decide for themselves, here are a few states that are doing just that by disbanding from the federal prohibition of marijuana.
- Arizona: November 2020
- Montana: November 2020
- New Jersey: February 22nd, 2021
- New York: March 30th, 2021
- South Dakota: July 1st, 2021 (medicinal use only but currently under a legal battle between South Dakotans and the state itself for recreational use too)
- Virginia: July 1st, 2021
All things considered, the overwhelming majority — 9 out of 10 Americans — are in support of legalizing marijuana, whether medicinal use only or both medicinal and recreational. While, as mentioned earlier, fewer than 10% of Americans are in opposition to the collective majority’s opinion.
Moreover, as marijuana becomes more and more accessible to Americans state-by-state, this new status quo of normalizing the recreational use of marijuana is leading towards a silent revolution that is starting to create a tremendous amount of noise. Not just socially but also politically.