Oregon, Alaska, D.C. Legalize Weed… Who’s Next?

In schools and libraries across the U.S. last week, voters turned out to let their voices be heard on the issues important to them. And for a growing majority of Americans, one of those issues is cannabis legalization.

Oregon and Alaska both passed marijuana reform laws similar to those of Washington and Colorado, legalizing possession and recreational use for adults 21 and over, and creating taxes and regulations on it’s production, distribution and commercial sales.

Washington D.C. also voted to pass Initiative 71, which legalizes possession and use of marijuana – not it’s sale. But because D.C. is a district, and not a state, the federal government has the authority to overturn the new legislation. Congress has 60 days to review the initiative.

And speaking of Congress, the new law means that our nation’s lawmakers are now allowed to get high. That’s right, folks! Even though the federal government still considers marijuana a Schedule 1 narcotic, and even though innocent people around the country lose their jobs and go to jail for it every single day, our senators and representatives – hell, Mr. President himself – are now free to light up whenever they like.

Funny how the world works.

Florida had a medical marijuana bill on the ballot this year, with 58 percent of voters in favor. Unfortunately, Florida requires a 60 percent majority in order to pass new legislation, so the reform fell short. But just barely. The United States territory of Guam – which is known for being politically conservative – also voted on a medical marijuana initiative, which passed with a 56 percent majority.

Even as legalization activists savor these victories, they are already looking ahead and making plans for the future. California, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts and Arizona are all expected to have recreational use bills on the ballot in 2016. And given that voter turnouts are significantly higher when the presidency is on the line – especially among younger voters, who tend to be pro-marijuana – the odds are good for a sweeping wave of reform.

More and more states are joining the legalization bandwagon, and soon enough people could be openly smoking refer right outside of capitol hill. So the big question is: how long before the federal government is forced to take notice, and enact it’s own reforms?

How long can failed and out-dated prohibition policy stand against the will of the people?

The truth is that the changing landscape of state laws has an impact even beyond the nation’s borders. If California and Arizona approve legalization measures in 2016, it could force Mexico to consider it’s own reforms. Which in turn would make waves throughout Latin America, with huge ramifications for the big cartels and the international drug trade.

It is increasingly obvious that the tide has turned in favor of cannabis reform, as a growing majority of people call for legalization and decriminalization. And though the opposition may fight it tooth and nail, in the end they are only delaying the inevitable.

Progress marches steadily onward – ready or not.

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Written by Ben Neal

Ben Neal is a freelance writer from Kansas City, MO. You can read more of his wordplay by connecting with him on Facebook and following him on Twitter.

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