This Novembers election could be a decisive turning point in the struggle to end U.S. marijuana prohibition. Its been a long time coming.
As recently as the ’90s, every major political faction was squarely in favor of prohibition. Only drug-addled hippies and libertarians thought otherwise. With just a few honorable exceptions, every significant public intellectual supported prohibition too.
We libertarians walked a lonely road, patiently pointing out prohibitions high costs and doubtful benefits. In some ways were still alone, because we certainly wouldnt stop with marijuana. But lets consider what progress weve made.
In Novembers election, five states – Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada – may each legalize recreational marijuana for adults.
State-level opinion polling is notoriously unreliable, but so far its favorable in Maine and Nevada, and overwhelmingly favorable in California. Its unfavorable in Arizona and Massachusetts, though the Massachusetts poll only asked a generic marijuana legalization question and did not reference the specific initiative.
If recent history is any guide, things look good for this November: Of the seven legalization initiatives offered to voters since 2012, five have passed, in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Washington, D.C.
Things look especially good in California, which is poised to be a nationwide game-changer. Californias Proposition 64 is up by almost a 2:1 margin, and the Los Angeles Times predicts passage as well.
If Prop 64 does pass, the statewide implementation of a generous recreational pot regime – in the nations most populous state – is sure to have some significant economic and regulatory effects. It could hardly do otherwise.
Some nationwide economic effects of legalization have already been seen. Marijuana prices nationwide have flattened or declined as new large-scale suppliers have come online. Seasonal price fluctuations seem to be disappearing as growers increasingly work in the open. And still-illegal Mexican growers have had to abandon marijuana because they cant compete with the domestic free market, small as it still is.
And again, California is no ordinary state; already it produces more marijuana than Mexico – and by one estimate its medical marijuana regime grows nearly half the total legal U.S. production. And thats before the near-certain growth of the industry in a recreational regime.
All this suggests that when California goes fully legal, the federal government will have to react somehow. The DEA has been reluctant to reschedule cannabis so far, but already many activists are dismissing the DEAs Schedule I classification as irrelevant. Rob Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project writes:
As more and more states legalize, that Schedule I classification looks more and more ridiculous. Soon the federal government may have to decide whether to follow the states – and the will of the people – or whether to crack down on legalization.
But as time goes on, cracking down looks more and more illegitimate, and inaction looks more and more like a joke. Somethings got to give.
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Will This Election Finally End Marijuana Prohibition?
Author: Jason Kuznicki
Photo Credit: Henry Romero