November was an extremely important month for marijuana reform; its impact will probably be seen for years in the future. California headed towards total legalization with the revealing of a well-funded, extremely supported 2016 ballot initiative. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders proposed a Senate bill that would halt federal cannabis prohibition. As a result, another Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, ended up loosening up how she felt about marijuana as well. In addition, Mexico’s Supreme Court voted in support of personal cannabis use, which could quickly lead to the legalization of recreational marijuana. Also, the Ohio population was able to vote an initiative that would have made the state the largest recreational marijuana market in the country; however, it was unfortunately.

However, one of the largest developments in the movement did not see much time in the headlines. The development was that Dan Riffle, a federal policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), announced that he was quitting his job. Riffle is one of the most outspoken advocates of marijuana legalization. Earlier in November, Riffle highlighted in an email that the “industry is taking over the legalization movement and I’m not interested in the industry.” That very same day, MPP publicized that a new political campaign funded by marijuana industry revenues was commencing. The fact that these two announcements were announced on the same day was not a coincidence.

“I think it is a pretty stark example of the kinds of things I was concerned about and that were the reasons why I left,” Riffle noted of MPP’s new campaign. “I felt for the last few months the industry was kind of dominating the legalization movement’s work in general, and MPP’s specifically.”

Riffle states that business has been mixed with politics in the United States, but he is anxious that the substance being focused on in the movement is a potent drug. Although the drug may not be as dangerous as some people say, there may be some benefits for the welfare of society if access to the product was limited.

“They might lobby for preferential tax treatment that drives down prices, they might lobby for less regulation,” Riffle stated. “The industry’s goal is to make money, but from a public health perspective, we might have other goals that are at odds with the industry’s goal of making money.”

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