The 2016 Presidential Elections will be the first since states have legalized recreational marijuana. These states have seen tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue, as well as reduction in prescription drug overdose deaths. Additionally, there is growing evidence that Cannabis can not only help treat ailments but also may actually cure certain conditions.
All of these factors have contributed to a strong majority of Americans supporting marijuana legalization and decriminalization.
The Hill did an article titled “Could pot be a game changer in 2016?”
The article discusses various points, some of which are quoted below:
“It could have major, major impacts. Point No. 1 is, marijuana definitely increases [voter] participation of young people,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic consultant and pollster. “The other nice thing about marijuana is that there’s no backlash. It doesn’t motivate [opponents] to vote — so it’s a unilaterally net positive effect.”
This is a key point, especially for Democrats, as they are going to need an issue to increase millennial voter participation without Obama on the ticket.
Many Democrats and Republicans on the national stage have adopted a cautious tone as public opinion has shifted rapidly on cannabis reform.
No major potential presidential candidate has come out in support of full-on marijuana legalization. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) this month introduced bipartisan legislation to legalize medical marijuana on the federal level for states that have already done so.
Many other possible contenders, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), recently told conservative audiences that it should be left up to the states. Hillary Clinton expressed similar views, saying more testing is needed to determine the drug’s medical benefits.
“We have at least two states that are experimenting with that right now,” she said last year, referring to Washington state and Colorado. “I want to wait and see what the evidence is.”
And that’s the type of language that most Americans want to hear, according to polling by Third Way, a centrist think tank.
“People’s opinions are really fluid on this issue. It’s a lot more complex than the polls show,” said Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, Third Way’s director of social policy and politics.
The last statement highlights the dilemma for potential candidates on both sides; the polls are trending highly in favor of marijuana legalization but it’s still so early in the movement that none of them want to get too far ahead of the curve. If things go badly in states that have legalized recreational marijuana, they don’t want their early support to come back to bite them later.
As more data starts rolling in from these states, some of which are already quite positive (read how medical marijuana is lowering drug overdose), combined with majority support for legalization, any potential candidate for President in 2016 will have to 1) take a definitive stance on the issue and 2) will have to accept losing votes if they endorse a prohibitionist stance on marijuana.
If you support marijuana legalization in any form, make your support known to your representatives.
And now just for fun, someone on YouTube has compiled statements about marijuana use from past and current Presidents. Marijuana legalization will not be an issue to be laughed away with a joke or campaign speak come 2016. Who will come out and lead on this issue? It will be a pivotal election for our nation and the marijuana legalization movement. VOTE!