There’s momentum building in support for legalizing the use of marijuana. Have you noticed it? Sometimes we can be so focused on advocacy that we forget to step back to observe the positive changes occurring. From shifting public opinion to politicians beginning to back reform, here’s a brief overview of some good that is happening regarding marijuana.
Public Opinion Rapidly Changing
Nearly three-quarters of Americans (73%) favor their state allowing the sale and use of marijuana for medical purposes. But public opinion about marijuana in general is rapidly changing. According to March 2015 Pew Research survey results, support for marijuana legalization is rapidly outpacing opposition. In 1990 only 16% of adults polled supported the legalization of marijuana compared to 53% of adults polled today. And, these supporters were far more likely than opponents to say they have changed their mind on this issue.
Upturn in States Legalizing Medicinal Cannabis, Adult Use Marijuana
Across the United States, 23 states and D.C. have legalized medicinal cannabis; 10 of which have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana in the last five years. In the past three years, Alaska, Colorado, D.C., Oregon, and Washington have passed laws allowing for the personal adult use of cannabis.
Decriminalization of Marijuana
Eighteen U.S. States have passed laws decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. Beyond America’s borders, many countries have decriminalized marijuana or given it very low criminal priority. They include Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, India, Iran, Mexico, North Korea, Pakistan, Switzerland, Spain, and Uruguay.
In April, the Jamaican government decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana as well as opened the way to cultivate the plant and allow medical marijuana card-carrying tourists to potentially procure their medicine in the country. As recently as May 3, Puerto Rico’s Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an executive order to allow marijuana for medical uses.
Marijuana Policy Reform Gaining Traction
There have been a number of bills introduced in the Senate and House regarding marijuana policy.
In early March, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act, which would make production, distribution, and possession of marijuana for medical purposes that’s legal under state law, legal under federal law. This law would also remove barriers to research, allow V.A. physicians to recommend medical marijuana, allow interstate transportation of CBD oils, ensure dispensaries are taxed fairly and allow all marijuana businesses to access the banking system and no longer be forced to operate on a cash-only basis. Then later in March, Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Don Young (R-AK) filed a House version of the CARERS Act and immediately gained the signatures of six additional members.
Other legislation under consideration by the House includes the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, the Marijuana Tax Equity Act, and the Veterans Equal Access Act.
Politicians Speaking Up
Last December President Obama made a statement in signing a bill that included a provision to end the federal government’s prohibition on medical cannabis. Though his administration maintains the position that federal law classifies marijuana as an illegal substance, Obama has expressed his support for state level decisions regarding marijuana.
With a presidential election on the horizon, prospective candidates are speaking up about marijuana. According to a Brookings Report article, marijuana policy has made its way into political candidates’ speeches and Q&A sessions—most by the request of the candidates—at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference held in March.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a 2016 presidential candidate, is pro-medical cannabis. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has argued that cannabis has shown to have medical value. Other influential politicians who endorse decriminalization or legalization of marijuana include Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senator Elizabeth Warren, former president Bill Clinton, Texas Governor Rick Perry, Senator John McCain, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, and the list goes on.
More Advocacy and Education Needed
Nelson Mandela is credited with saying, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Since its inception, Oaksterdam University has maintained that reform begins with education. Over 20,000 OU alumni—people who have received training regarding cannabis and marijuana history, science, benefits and policy reform—are the most active in the world.
In OU’s most recent e-newsletter, Provost and Dean of Faculty Dr. Aseem Sappal thanked alumni and wrote, “Although education and science continue to dispel the myths hiding behind sciolism, there remains much more awareness to raise. As more politicians and physicians stand up for cannabis, I am certain that an Oaksterdam University alum has or is standing with them, informing them of the history, science and benefits of cannabis….It’s imperative that we all continue to support and promote our initiatives….If no one speaks, no one will listen.”
Upcoming Oaksterdam University Seminars
Las Vegas Basic and Advanced Classic Seminars, June 12-15. These seminars cover everything you need to know about cannabis from seed to sale. Learn the skills needed to operate and maintain a cannabusiness as well as cannabis history, politics, laws, civics economics, advocacy and more. There will also be a Job Fair on June 15 from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Learn more.
Washington D.C. Basic Classic Seminar, June 27-28. Learn how to open and manage a dispensary, structure a legal cannabis entity, protect your legal rights, grow cannabis, and more! Enjoy a special post-seminar event at Ozio and meet on-on-one with cannabis pioneers and entrepreneurs from House of Jane, MD Canna-Care and Cultivation, Oaksterdam University and others. Learn more.