The Marijuana Legalization Movement seems unstoppable at this point and for many, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when”. Just this week, Georgia became the 24th state (along with Washington, D.C.) to legalize medical marijuana. In addition, there are a number of other states that are likely to follow suit with their own medical or recreational marijuana laws.
Combined with a massive shift in pubic opinion about legalized marijuana (for the first time, majority of Americans support legalized cannabis), it seems the optimism for legalized marijuana seems justified.
So what can stop or slow down the marijuana legalization movement? In particular, what obstacles still face the “front lines” of the legalization movement, medical marijuana?
The Motley Fool did a recent article to examine this question. Some of their observations from the article “The 5 Biggest Obstacles Facing Medical Marijuana“ are noted below:
1. Unknown long-term effects of use
The 800-pound gorilla in the room is that the long-term effects of marijuana use are still admittedly unknown.
They do note that the unknown element is mainly due to lack of research, as well as the fact that most of the research that have been done have proven the positives of medical marijuana.
What they fail to mention is that the lack of research is entirely due to the Federal Prohibition on cannabis.
We don’t see this as an obstacle, but rather one of the main reasons to legalize medical marijuana.
There is enough preliminary and anecdotal evidence on the benefits of medical marijuana that it would be inhumane to stand in the way of further research. The potential to help patients, especially children, are just too great to fight legalization of medical cannabis.
2. DEA scheduling
Another major roadblock for medical marijuana is the fact that the federal government still views marijuana as a schedule 1 drug.
By definition, a schedule 1 drug has no medical benefits and is considered illicit, or illegal. In order for marijuana to be medically legalized on a federal level, the federal government would need to amend the Controlled Substances Act and change marijuana to a schedule 2 drug. Schedule 2 drugs are noted to have medically beneficial properties, though they’re tightly regulated because of their high potential for abuse.
The CARERS Act, introduced by 3 U.S. Senators (Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)), would end the ban on federal ban on medical marijuana. It remains to be seen whether this goes anywhere in Congress but is an indication of the importance marijuana will play in the 2016 Presidential Elections.
3. Political opposition
Although we’re seeing support for marijuana from both political parties, there are still governors and jurisdictions within states that are opposed to the idea of legalizing marijuana.
They mention that even within Colorado, where medical and recreational marijuana is legal, about 3/4 of the jurisdictions still have bans on marijuana.
In other words, lifting the federal ban on marijuana may not do much, if anything, to existing marijuana laws in a number of states.
4. It’s a low priority
Fourth, while legalizing medical marijuana may one day be in the cards, by President Obama’s own admission earlier this month in an interview with VICE News, it’s simply not a priority.
They mention a plethora of other issues with which the government must first deal before legalizing marijuana.
While we agree that these are important issues, it’s somewhat naive in what politicians consider “high” priority. With majority of Americans supporting marijuana legalization, it’s an issue any candidate for President will have to address in the 2016 elections. And it is an issue that increases voter participation among legalization supporters, especially the important voting bloc, the millenials.
As 2016 draws closer, candidates will stake out positions based on polls which has been trending higher in support of cannabis legalization.
5. Financing troubles
Lastly, because marijuana is considered a schedule 1 drug and is therefore illegal, medical marijuana dispensaries and legal grow businesses have had a difficult time arranging financing and loans with banks. Banks have generally been unwilling, even in legalized states, to finance medical marijuana businesses for fear of legal consequences from the federal government.
Once again, this is entirely the result of the Federal Prohibition on cannabis. What we are seeing is that DESPITE the federal ban on marijuana and the additional financial burdens it places on legally licensed businesses, marijuana dispensaries are expanding, creating jobs, paying taxes, and helping patients.
The “financing troubles” are unreasonable and unjustifiable burdens which should be removed so that marijuana businesses can realize the American Dream on an even playing field.
Full Article at Motley Fool “The 5 Biggest Obstacles Facing Medical Marijuana“