This week the California Secretary of State’s Office certified that sufficient signatures had been gathered to place an initiative to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in The Golden State on the November ballot. Eight other states will have marijuana measures on their ballots this year.
Four states, Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon currently allow the recreational use of marijuana. Twenty-one additional states allow the use of medical marijuana. After the votes are counted on November 8, a majority of states will have laws on their books that run counter to the current federal law that lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.
Marijuana possession is a federal offense punishable by up to one year in jail
The gap between state law and federal law on the use and possession of marijuana is one that is becoming increasingly hard to justify.
Marijuana possession remains a federal offense, and the federal law applies to offenses committed on federal property, which includes the Capitol grounds and the mall within DC, as well as all national parks and military property nationwide, and other land under federal control.
Federal enforcement of the marijuana possession law is not universal but the widening discrepancy between state statutes and federal law creates an unworkable environment that the next President will need to address. So, where do the two candidates stand?
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 happen — right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states.
— Donald Trump
I do support the use of medical marijuana, And I think even there we need to do a lot more research so that we know exactly how we’re going to help people for whom medical marijuana provides relief.
— Hillary Clinton
Polls show a majority of Americans support legalization
A recent Gallup poll showed that 58% of all Americans favor the legalization of marijuana for everyone, and a Quinnipiac poll revealed that 89% of the country supports the legal use of marijuana for medical purposes.
The Marijuana Policy Project is widely recognized as the voice of the legalization movement. They recently rated the two presidential candidates regarding their support of legalized marijuana.
Hillary Clinton: B+
Donald Trump: C+
But not all agree that Clinton would be the best choice if legalization of marijuana is your primary issue for determining how you vote.
If you want the candidate with the highest probability of ensuring marijuana will be legal across the country, Donald Trump is your best option.
— Merry Jane
What does seem clear is that mood of the country has been altered and federal legalization of marijuana is a question of when, not if. With a strong majority of Americans supporting the legalization of marijuana, politicians in both parties will soon get on board.