When Vermont’s legislation voted to legalize recreational marijuana this month, it signaled a rebuke from state politicians. They were not dissuaded by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration’s rolling back federal protections surrounding state’s marijuana laws.
Vermont’s passage also demonstrated a shift in thinking surrounding marijuana polices in the political sphere. As much as federal agencies might try to interfere, states maintain assertive control when it comes to marijuana legalization and regulations.
Now The Hill, the political newspaper based in Washington DC, has published an emphatic op-ed in favor of more states following the Vermont’s legislation lead. As the op-ed states, “With marijuana legalization success and overwhelming public support, the question is no longer whether to legalize marijuana, but how.”
The article touches upon notes familiar to cannabis activists. The majority of Americans—including Republicans—are in favor of legalization, the War on Drugs is a waste of money, while Black and Latinx Americans are disproportionately targeted in cannabis-related arrests. In addition, states with some form of legalized marijuana enjoy a new tax revenue boom and job market, which has saved some local economies that were on the edge of extinction.
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We’re not finished. Via The Hill:
[Because of cannabis legalization] marijuana-related arrests have plummeted, saving states millions of dollars and preventing the criminalization of several thousands of people. Youth marijuana use has not increased. There have been reductions in opioid overdose deaths and untreated opioid use disorders. And, DUI arrests for driving under the influence (of alcohol and other drugs) have declined.
Though the recognition regarding the positive effects of cannabis legalization by a media publication like The Hill would be enough to excite some, the op-ed closes with a strong call to action. It states, “But we should not stop at legalization alone. The time is now to support efforts by Congress and numerous states to not only legalize marijuana, but to advance policies that further repair the racially discriminatory harms of marijuana criminalization.”