Take a deep breath in…now let it out…Congratulations, you survived another midterm election season with Instagram feeds replete with people proudly displaying “I voted” stickers, and friends from college whom you haven’t spoken to in years hitting you up to make sure you voted. Democrats managed to take back the House, and Republicans are straight chilling in the Senate, but what of the state measures voters decided on this year? Where’s their clever political content? Patience, young padawon, all in due time.
The ballot measures included in this year’s midterm election included everything from Florida’s regranting of voting rights for ex-convicts to Californians deciding that daylight savings time serves a purpose and is here to stay. While important, no measures received public attention like those relating to the legalization of cannabis. And in four states —Michigan, Utah, Missouri, and North Dakota — voters decided the fate of their state’s reputation as a chill spot to come through, or one still afraid of “reefer madness.” Late projections from Tuesday indicated that many of those ballot propositions passed with flying colors.
In the great state of Michigan, voters approved a measure to fully legalize marijuana, becoming the first state in the Midwest to allow retail cannabis sales, according to the Boston Globe. As far as the regulation resulting from the passing of Michigan’s Proposal 1, residents of the state will be allowed to use marijuana and marijuana-related products so long as they are 21 or older. Fans of the devil’s lettuce will be allowed to “possess, use, transport, or process up to 2.5 ounces (15 grams) of marijuana, as well as grow a maximum of 12 marijuana plants and store up to 10 ounces in their homes, according to Esquire. Proposal 1’s passing, while progressive, did not change Michigan’s prohibition of cannabis use in public.
In addition to Michigan residents’ “high” voter turnout in support of cannabis, voters in Utah and Missouri legalized marijuana for medical use. These several states join the ranks of 31 other states that have passed legislation in favor of medical marijuana usage, and nine others that have have fully legalized cannabis. While state-level cannabis policies are important and arguably beneficial for state economies, legislation passed from the midterms represents a potential tidal shift in terms of the federal prohibition on marijuana.
“Momentum is gaining for change in Congress to allow states to determine their own marijuana policies. Two thirds of the country wants marijuana to be legal, and politicians are ignoring that at their peril.”
–Morgan Fox, Media Relations Director, National Cannabis Industry Association
Cannabis industry experts in the US believe that because marijuana is legal in two-thirds of the country, and it’s high-time for Congress to wise up to the facts. Back in July, the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) laid waste to a constitutional amendment that would’ve offered legal protection to banks interested in working with cannabis-related companies. This dealt a huge blow to domestic cannabis industry because doing business without the support of a financial institution is incredibly difficult. On top of this restrictive action set forth by the SAC, in September, Congress rejected the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, denying military veterans suffering from chronic pain, PTSD, and other medical ailments from using cannabis as a form of treatment.
The hope of cannabis industry execs, pro-weed lobbyists, and the stoned public is that the momentum gained from Michigan, Utah, and Missouri’s legalizing of marijuana will signal the Federal government to give it a rest and just “legalize it.” From a fiscal standpoint, its almost insane not to legalize cannabis. California’s most lucrative cash crop is cannabis, given that three 75% of weed grown in the US comes from the state.
The future of the cannabis market in the US is solely dependent on the Fed’s recognition of a culture shift taking place in the country. As congress witnesses the economic benefits enjoyed by states like Michigan, Utah, Missouri, and the other thirty one states where cannabis is medically legal, perhaps they will get around to federal legalization.