So much is on the line in the mid-term election just a week away.
For many of us who are pro-marijuana legalization advocates, there is a concern not just for the many legalization referendums on the ballot in states like Florida, Oregon and many more but also the various candidates running for Governor, Senators and Congressional Representatives.
There is a great concern among many as to the potential for a sweeping change from Democratic Party to Republican Party control in the congress and the impact it might have on Cannabis legalization; especially with a Republican controlled Senate.
To quote Jesus from the book of John, “Let not your heart be troubled…..”.
In the same way alcohol prohibition was eventually overturned by the desire of the people and the complete cooperation of both houses and both political parties as well as a predominately united American clergy, so too will the legalization of Cannabis occur.
Not only do the American people want legal marijuana for recreational use, medical and research use but also for re-entry of the hemp industry into the American textile and agricultural markets. This will vastly increase jobs, restore many family farms and with reasonable state and federal taxes, raise much needed revenue for roads, infrastructure and education.
There have been many articles recently written by legalization advocates expressing a concern for and even fear of a predominantly GOP/Conservative congress; some so frightening the content was near hysterical.
The traditional view Cannabis legalization supporters have generally held is that any Republican/Conservative control of congress would both destroy any efforts already made and inhibit future progress. The rational to this political philosophy however, is both unwarranted and unsound.
It should be noted that historically, most of the changes in hemp and cannabis laws in the United States came about under Democratic Presidential administrations and/or democratically controlled congresses.
Most of the changes early on were either related to the prohibition movement such as attempts to develop elixirs made from weed in an effort to replace alcohol as well as an attempt to tax the plant as a means to raise revenue for the federal government following the great depression.
It’s true that Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan received the most attention for their stepped up campaign against Marijuana use. But most historians and political pundits today agree that in both cases it was purely a “Wag the dog” scenario and entirely political, utilizing both skewed (and even false) science and statistics.
History dictates that Nixon was definitely an opportunist.
Nixon was constantly under fire for almost every action he took in getting America out of the Vietnam War and the resulting fall of Saigon.
There was also the rampant and open use of Marijuana among young people peacefully protesting in the streets across America, even though courts at the time were not quite certain how to handle obscure laws on use and possession.
As a result, Nixon decided to declare a war on drugs and to include (and even emphasize) marijuana in an attempt to draw attention away from his other problems. Since the Vietnam protesters were mostly peaceful, by adding marijuana to the war against drugs allowed law enforcement an additional reason for control and arrest.
For Ronald Reagan it was Iran Contra and the War on Granada.
Many Americans were in vehement disagreement with these conflicts. In a similar response to that of Nixon, President Reagan and his wife Nancy initiated the “Just say NO” to drug policy which led to protests and lessened the effects of Reagan’s political problems.
Granada and Iran Contra became less important; or so it seemed.
Although there was increased enforcement under Reagan, it was less about marijuana use and more about laundering of the money made from the marijuana industry; much like the days of alcohol prohibition.
In more recent history, every Presidential candidate from both parties including Clinton, George W. Bush and President Obama have each admitted to marijuana use as have many sitting members of congress.
Even George H. W. Bush at least suggested that the CIA was running drugs (including marijuana) as an effort to fund many of the government’s covert projects.
The bottom line for all legalization supporters is, don’t worry legalization will happen and probably sooner than later.
The legalization of Marijuana is in full process.
The country demands it, parents of critically ill children need it and those of us with neurological disorders desire the opportunity to get well without fear of legal retribution.
The truth is the majority of Congressional bills attempting to legalize Marijuana at the national level have almost always had co-sponsors from both parties; they would lack little chance of even getting to the floor of their respective houses without such sponsorship.
Undoubtedly with the rapidly growing push to legalize marijuana at the state level, there will certainly be a continued bi-partisan effort to finalize a national legalization law.
On a political note, if the Democratic party is not in control of the senate and the GOP continues to control the House of Representatives and the “purse strings” of the government, the President will need something to raise his opinion polls in his final two years of office; legalized marijuana could do it.
As a result and in all probability, a GOP controlled congress would certainly want to get the matter of a bill legalizing marijuana passed, signed by the current president and out of the way prior to the 2016 Presidential campaign in order to avoid open political debate. It’s simply good politics. It would also be a huge bargaining point by Republicans in getting the President to sign bills they see as essential such as an overhaul to Obamacare. elimination of the IRS and fair tax credit for new industries such as Hemp Farms.
There are far too many variables involved with the legalization of marijuana for it not to once again become legal in the United States.
Within the past year the History Channel’s H2, CBS 60 Minutes, ABC 20/20 and the Science Channel have all had documentaries on the legalization of Marijuana. History Channel’s H2 recently spent an entire night of prime time dedicated to the history, use and legalization movement with an added update the following Saturday night.
Although honest and accurate statistics concerning marijuana use are difficult to obtain due to prejudice from both sides of the spectrum and the reluctance of many pot users to openly admit their use (due to possible legal retribution), a recent Gallup poll shows that at least thirty eight percent of Americans have admittedly tried marijuana in one form or another with up to fifty four percent using the herb on an occasional basis for medical use and as much as nine to ten percent using on a daily basis.
It should be noted that these figures, only represent the minimum estimates of the number of marijuana users. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has acknowledged that it is reasonable to inflate such estimates by one-third to account for under-reporting.
Allowing for the ONDCP’s own allowance that it is reasonable to inflate the estimates by one-third, then realistically closer to fifty two percent have actually tried marijuana and as many as seventy two percent of Americans are periodically using Cannabis as medicine; of course admitted medical use would be higher due to legal cannabis being available in twenty four states.
It is also important to note that daily usage is far less than those who utilize alcohol, tobacco or caffeine as their daily drug of choice.
In short, apparently Americans know how to handle their pot. As such they should have the privilege to purchase it as easily as beer or wine, cigars or cigarettes or coffee and the proverbial “Diet Coke” without fear of legal retribution.
There are already twenty four states (most forget Georgia has had legal medicinal marijuana for cancer and glaucoma since 1980) plus Washington D.C. which have legalized cannabis for medicinal use (in some form), two with unlimited legal recreational use and seventeen more states with bills before their legislatures and five more with referendums on the ballot in either the 2014 or 2016 elections in their respective states.
Almost all of the current Democratic, Republican and Libertarian candidates on the current mid-term ballot are either pro marijuana legalization or simply have no opinion at all.
In short, legalization is almost here; it will happen.
Just like the days leading up to the end of alcohol prohibition, even the church is beginning to come out in support of legalization; in fact many Christians have been closet users for decades. Those living in Colorado and Washington state have even begun family hemp farms and marijuana dispensaries.
The reality is, there is probably more to be gained by pro marijuana legalization supporters from a GOP controlled Congress than by the arguing, fighting and do nothing split decision congress currently in charge.
With Texas Governor Rick Perry, favoring at least decriminalization, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul for pro-legalization, Senator and potential Presidential Candidate Rand Paul also pro-legalization as well as Florida Governor Rick Scott (all Republicans), it’s quite evident that the shadow of anti-legalization which once surrounded the GOP is rapidly fading.
It’s a “Win, win” situation and both parties know it.
The current legalization movement is no longer a passing whirlwind but rather a full blown Category 5 hurricane Mary Jane with no place for politicians of either party to hide.
Cannabis legalization advocates should feel confident that a vote for a GOP candidate (in most cases) will not have any negative effect in the progress of legalization.
© 2014 Dr. Lee W. Outlaw III