FILE – In this Nov. 1, 2012 file photo, a marijuana plant grows at the Tikkun Olam medical cannabis farm, near the northern Israeli city of Safed, Israel.
(AP Photo/Dan Balilty, File)
Beginning April 20, and continuing throughout the weekend (or until the snacks run out), swarms of so-called “stoners” will collect on grassy mounds, the streets of the city and even the U. S. Capitol steps to celebrate the international marijuana holiday known as “4/20.” And while the annual, pungent “protests” are often treated as sideshows, the issue of legalizing cannabis and the benefits that it offers to a variety of Americans – is growing too large to ignore.
While the origin of the celebrations remain as hazy as the celebration itself, “420”, is probably a reference to the police code used in the 1970s California to a marijuana arrest in progress.” And although the term may have started out as something of an inside-joke among the counter-culture of the 1970s, the holiday seems to take on a more mainstream feel, if people think about the practical benefits of legalization, and the growing signs of acceptance by the public.
Pro-cannabis activists were literally handing out “connections” on the steps of the Capitol Thursday afternoon (and yes, there are arrests). The 28 states and the District of Columbia now have laws that allow the use of marijuana in some form. Canada is considering a bill to “legalize” nationwide. And while a growing number of polls and studies suggest many Americans are coming around to the idea of cannabis being legalised, the issue is still the subject of heated discussions at the highest level.
According to the data compiled by the Magazine, more than half of the states in the nation now have laws either legalizing marijuana for recreational use, or have legalized the substance for medical use “in general.” Still not on the small number of states such as Alabama and Mississippi, the laws governing the use of marijuana for certain medical conditions such as severe epilepsy.
A Yahoo/Marist poll released earlier this week showed that two-thirds of the respondents think prescription painkillers such as Vicodin are “more dangerous” than marijuana. Approximately 83% of the respondents in the same poll believe marijuana should be legalized for medical use in the country.
Despite the widespread legalization of the drug used for different purposes, marijuana remains just that, a drug – in the eyes of the federal government. Classified as a Schedule-1 illegal substance under DEA guidelines, marijuana is in the same class as heroin and cocaine.
The Obama Department of Justice told the AMERICAN lawyers that the states should be allowed to strive for legalization, despite federal restrictions. However, there are already cases where the federal courts have ruled against people who are punished by employers for the use of marijuana in the states where it is legal.
When it comes to the President’s Trump card of the administration, the problem is even more complicated. Back in 2015, candidate Trump told a Nevada crowd “in terms of marijuana legalization, I think that must be really a problem, the state of the by the state.” In February 2017, Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested that while President Trump supports medical marijuana, the issue of the recreational laws should be left to the Ministry of Justice to decide.
Trump the attorney-general, former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, has a history of opposition to marijuana, but stated in his January confirmation hearing that maybe Congress should do, to decide. “The United States Congress has made the possession of marijuana in each state and the distribution of an unlawful act,” Sessions said, before clarifying, “if that is something that is not desired longer, Congress should pass a law to change the rule.”
Although there is a lack of consensus about the problem at the federal level, supporters point to the tax benefits of legalization as a distinct advantage, regardless of your political beliefs.
When Colorado first legalized cannabis for recreational use back in 2014, Robin Hackett immediately seized on the opportunity to go into business with her sister, Cheri. The two have since opened a retail pharmacy, and Hackett believes, this may be one of the few cases where the Democrats and Republicans will most likely benefit both.
“I’m a conservative person,” Hackett told Fox News, before adding that while she believes that it is the “Democrats [who] set marijuana free… the Republicans will make of an industry.”
An investigation by the New Frontier of Data, a group that oversees the cannabis industry, points out that the states with legalized marijuana could rake in $655 million from the retail sales this year, with sales predicted to eventually reach a number of $1.8 billion.
In the course of last year alone, Colorado raked in $200 million in tax revenue. A number of $42 million was distributed to various state education projects, and a number of $16 million for Affordable Housing Grants and Loans, among other initiatives.
In Oregon, more than $65 million in revenue generated since last January. The state of the Common School Fund receives 40% of the bean, the rest is divided between the mental health and addiction services, as well as the law of the state of the enforcement on all levels.
California, where pot was legalized for recreational use in November, reportedly of the opinion that it can generate approximately $100 million in savings, and $1 billion in revenue per year.
There are even suggestions that the medicinal marijuana could save Medicaid approximately $1 billion if it is legal nationwide. A study published in the journal Health Affairs found that the laws of the marijuana resulted in a number of $475.8 million in Medicaid savings in 2014.