Voters’ Voices Were Heard in 2018… Legalize Cannabis!
Marijuana legislation began with a rocky start in 2018. U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions had everyone in a frenzy in the beginning of this year, when he withdrew guidelines that protected marijuana laws that were put in place by individual states under Obama’s term.
Vermont fought back hours later. Gov. Phil Scott, signed legislation that allowed anyone over 21 to grow and have in their possession small quantities of marijuana. Giving adults the right to consume marijuana for personal use, but not for sale.
In September of 2018, Gov. Ralph Torres, the governor of The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (a U.S. Territory) signed into law a bill that legalized marijuana for recreational use. This bill made history considering that no other state has gone from 100% prohibition (including medical use) to legalizing weed for recreational use.
In June 2018 Oklahoma became the 30th state in the U.S. to allow its residents access to medical marijuana. Oklahoma voters passes the proposal by a 57% to 43% margin. This allows doctors in Oklahoma to recommend marijuana for any type of medical condition.
- Missouri became the 32nd state to legalize marijuana for medical use. The legalization was made possible by voters who passed the amendment to the state constitution.
- The voters in Michigan approved a ballot measure that would make Michigan the first state in the Midwest to legalize marijuana use for adults. Legalization in the Midwest is a big step toward legalization in the United States.
- Utah legalized medical marijuana. This was a huge win for the medical cannabis industry. Utah is one of the most socially conservative states in the U.S. If medical marijuana can pass in Utah, then it’s only a matter of time for all states to legalize marijuana for medical use.
- Ohio voters passed marijuana decriminalization measures that were on the ballot in five out of six cities. The cities that passed the ballot, included Windham, Fremont, Dayton, Oregon and Norwood. The voters in Garrettsville, Ohio were the only ones that rejected the measure.
Legalization in the Midwest is a big step toward legalization in the United States. In the past, Coastal and Democratic states were the only states gaining traction in decriminalizing medical and recreational marijuana.
Candidates in 2018 who supported the legalization of marijuana found themselves victorious over their opponents. Long time opponents wised up during elections to gain the approval and vote of the citizens in their state.
Here are the following politicians who came out victorious in the November 2018 elections.
- J.B. Pritzker the Democratic candidate that ran against Republican incumbent Bruce Rainer, he went on to win the election in November 2018 and became Governor of Illinois. Many people attribute this win to him making the legalization of marijuana the focal point of his campaign platform.
- Voters in Michigan elected Gretchen Whitmer (D) as Governor. Whitmer publicly supports legalizing marijuana and called it an “exit drug” away from opioids.
- Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) was elected governor. She also stated that the legalization of marijuana would bring “hundreds of millions of dollars to New Mexico’s economy.”
- Ned Lamont (D) was elected governor of Connecticut after stating that he would make legalizing marijuana a priority in 2019.
- Andrew Cuomo was previously opposed to marijuana calling it a “gateway drug”. He seemed to change his mind in 2018 and started working on drafting a bill to end the prohibition of cannabis for legislators to review in 2019.
Bills to amend or end the prohibition of cannabis increased in record numbers than in any time in U.S. history. This was no small feat considering Congressional Republicans efforts to block many cannabis amendments, which included blocking amendments before they even had a chance to reach the house floor. As Democrats gain the majority in the House, the U.S. moves closer to federally legalizing cannabis in 2019.
Many politicians who have long opposed the legalization of marijuana have had to change their stance in fear of being voted out of office. Senator Feinstein (D-CA) has been a long-time opponent of legalizing marijuana. During a tough primary she admitted that California residents who obey cannabis laws set forth in the state should not be subjected to arrest by federal narcotics agents.
Senator Minority Leader Schumer (D-NY) whose history shows he’s a fan of federal drug criminalization policies changed his stance in 2018 and filed a bill to remove marijuana from the Controlled Cannabis Act.
Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) also flipped on his viewpoint on marijuana and went from opposing it in Massachusetts to now being a supporter of cannabis legalization.
Politicians flipping on the issue of cannabis legislation proves how important every vote is when it comes to local, state and federal elections. Voters decide which politicians represent them and which ones don’t. Representatives are aware that if they fail to implement laws and policies that the voters want, they’ll most likely be voted out of office.
Finally, one of the most influential politicians, President Donald Trump has decided to support a bill that strives to end the prohibition of marijuana on the federal level. With the public’s changing attitude and pressure put on our representative, it’s only a matter of time when marijuana will be legalized across the country. Whether this happens in 2019 remains to be seen.