ELECTION 2016: Marijuana Wins Battles But War on Drugs Lingers

Voters in California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada approved recreational marijuana initiatives Nov. 8, and several other states passed medical marijuana provisions, in what is turning out to be the largest electoral victory for marijuana reform since 2012, when Colorado and Washington approved the plant’s recreational use. Now marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes in 28 states, and legal for recreational use in 8.

Voters on Tuesday approved Proposition 64, making California the most populous state in the nation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The approval of the ballot measure creates the largest market for marijuana products in the U.S. Yet discouraged law enforcement officials said they would closely monitor the implementation of these ballot measures.

It’s important to note that while these individual states now permit marijuana usage in various forms, it’s still considered a Schedule 1 substance at the federal level.  The oddest election in modern times made Donald Trump – a man with no prior political or military experience – the 45th president of the United States. What does this mean for cannabis crusaders?  Truthfully, President-elect Trump’s statements on cannabis reform is ambiguous, incomplete, and feckless when it comes to changing the way the Feds may treat cannabis during the next four years.

A Hillary Clinton presidency would likely have rescheduled marijuana from its current illicit status as a Schedule 1 substance to perhaps Schedule 2.  This step would have made it easier to study marijuana in a more formal, meaningful manner.  President-elect Trump is in favor of medical marijuana – maybe, or at least he says he is. The real estate tycoon might reschedule marijuana – perhaps. Or the so-called Republican could roll back all the state initiatives and enforce cannabis prohibition at the federal level.

During his campaign Trump said regulating marijuana is “bad.” But he also said he would leave it up to the states and that he’s “100%” in favor of medical marijuana.  “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state,” Trump told The Washington Post.  “I think medical should happen — right? Don’t we agree? I think so.” In a Fox News interview, Trump called Colorado’s legal marijuana industry a “real problem.”

If any truly objective statements can be made about the 2016 election, it would be that it was less about policies like medical marijuana, and more about people who build walls or hide emails from the FBI.

President-elect Trump has promised to be a law-and-order president. That gives many anti-legalization groups hope. Moreover, 55% of Republicans oppose marijuana legalization, even though state after state, county after county voted against them on this issue. Too, the GOP will have control over taxation, criminalization, raiding dispensaries, and interstate transport of cannabis. This could spell disaster for those of us looking to wipe out prohibition vestiges.  For context, then-Candidate Obama told medical patients he would not raid marijuana dispensaries but he did it anyway.

The big victories that came out during the 2016 election for pot should not be underscored but let us understand the big picture: A Republican in the White House could spoil the fruits of the labors of so many fine men and women in states that have decriminalized and legalized marijuana. Donald Trump in the White House sets cannabis back. He won’t use his resources to legalize or reschedule cannabis. Trump’s platform has always been about building a wall and fighting terrorism. He’s not your pro-pot president.

Our upcoming blog will digest the State of Florida’s Amendment 2, and what comes next for marijuana in the Sunshine State.