Been a user of cannabis, non-users of marijuana, and the question pops up, will weed ever be legal? Is cannabis going to be legalized this year? For years, I told people it should be. Yet something is changing and recently building momentum reminds me of Colorado and Washington state.
We have tracked 19 different governments on implementing legal cannabis frameworks; at this point, it feels like legalization is imminent. The law has been legalized in 18 states and Washington, D.C. since 2021, and an astounding 36 states and D.C. Medical marijuana has been legalized in some states. A total of 10 states has legalized cannabis measures in the last 12 months, ranging from decriminalization in Alabama to full legalization in New York.
Cannabis legalization will more senators push for marijuana prohibition reform bill?
State-by-state, and across the board, there is increasing momentum for legalization. Many polls released this year show that most Americans support adult-use cannabis, and a much larger majority supports medicinal cannabis. South Dakota, for example, was one of the states that overwhelmingly approved of legalizing cannabis. The public's support for legalization in Washington has lagged that of South Dakota, where governor resistance has slowed implementation. Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Congress have no doubt taking note that times are changing.
The House of Representatives passed the wordy Common Sense Cannabis Reform for Veterans, Small Businesses, and Medical Professionals Act, sponsored by Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) and Don Young (R-Alaska). Charles Koch has committed $25M to ending federal cannabis prohibition and the prison population boom associated with it (and restrictions on freedom of choice).
A draft "trio bill," aptly called the result of a three-way effort by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) to reform marijuana laws was revealed, intended to spur discussions ahead of a formal bill's introduction. Legal cannabis is certainly on the horizon due to widespread public support and the introduction of bills by both parties.
A lot of work needs to be done to translate the public support for legal cannabis into the votes needed to pass legislation. Senators from both parties are not convinced about how marijuana should be regulated. Yet everyone from conservative Supreme Court justices to Senate leadership has heard the American people. Cannabis is now the topic of discussion, not whether it should remain illegal.
In this era of slick as grease politicians, senators who remain committed to prohibition are voluntarily accepting attacks from the right as well as the left, as cannabis becomes increasingly understood to create jobs, generate economic opportunity, and reform social and criminal justice systems. Using federal enforcement methods to harass families, communities, and businesses in the cannabis sector is unjustifiable, considering that roughly 144.5 million Americans live in states where cannabis has been legalized.
Senators who are hesitant to support federal regulations of cannabis can either confront the difficult issues of protecting small businesses and curbing youth consumption, or they can stay behind as American businesses and the American public support smarter approaches that protect public health and safety while promoting economic growth.
Weedmain’s views are expressed in this article.