Although proponents of pot reform still have their victory flags raised after giving prohibitionists the beat down of their lives during the November election, there are now some concerns over just how long the legal weed winning streak will be allowed to continue.
In a recent op-ed piece for CNN, Harvard economics professor Jeff Miron speculates that all of the progress states have made in regards to reforming marijuana laws is at risk of being snuffed out under the administration of the next president. Up to this point, the federal government has simply humored the cannabis community by permitting experimental legalization efforts in the realm of both medicinal and recreational markets, but the truth is, none of the laws hold any clout against the wrath of Uncle Sam if the old coot decides to shut it down. It is for this reason that Miron insists the time has come for Congress to get serious about making changes to our national marijuana policy.
“Despite the compelling case for legalization, and progress toward legalization at the state level, ultimate success is not assured,” wrote Miron. “Federal law still prohibits marijuana, and existing jurisprudence (Gonzales v. Raich 2005) holds that federal law trumps state law when it comes to marijuana prohibition. So far, the federal government has mostly taken a hands-off approach to state medicalization and legalization movements, but in January 2017, the country will have a new president. That person could order the attorney general to enforce federal prohibition regardless of state law.”
Unfortunately, according to Ethan Nadelmann, executive director and founder of the Drug Policy Alliance, there does exist the possibility that the next president could swoop in to put an end to state approved marijuana laws. But it is not likely to happen. “It’s all political,” Nadelmann told The Huffington Post. “Of course it’s possible that the next president could decide to crack down on the states that have legalized marijuana but that prospect becomes ever less likely with every passing day.”
Legal marijuana is already generating a substantial amount of positive influence in America, said Nadelmann, which would make it extremely difficult for a new, pot-hating president to stop it dead in its tracks. “Diverse sectors of society are developing a stake in marijuana remaining legal,” he said. “Taxpayers and tax collectors enjoy the revenue. Cost cutters appreciate the savings from no longer arresting so many people for marijuana. Unions welcome the new legal jobs. Businessmen, including many who vote Republican, relish the actual and potential profits.”
Many lawmakers predict the federal government will repeal prohibition before the end of the decade, and there is simply too much forward momentum not to see that marijuana is well on its way to becoming the next industrial revolution. If the next president did have the guts to put the kibosh on the progress of pot, we are almost certain he or she would be tarred and feather in the streets of Washington, D.C. Yet, Congress could save us all the trouble by simply getting involved with this inevitable movement within the next year.
“For 77 years, the United States has outlawed marijuana, with tragic repercussions and unintended consequences,” wrote Miron. “The public and their state governments are on track to rectify this terrible policy. Here’s hoping Congress catches up.”
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