One of the biggest issues in the 2018 mid-term elections is the legalization of marijuana both medicinally and recreationally. The decisions made this year will affect things on both a state and national level for years to come and may make some huge changes to the country in general. The majority of the public in the United States is in favor of the legalization of marijuana.
Those in favor of legalization span across all different political parties, races, genders, and socioeconomic levels. With the will of the people being legalization and regulation, many believe that it would be foolish for any political candidate to go against their wishes. This goes for candidates vying for office on every level including local, state, and national.
The prohibition of marijuana has lasted long enough and Americans are saying no more. They have seen the success that states like Colorado have had with their legalization programs and want to know what it can do for them. Legalizing marijuana is not only what the majority wants, but it's also responsible on a moral, scientific, and economic level.
The majority of states in the U.S. have already passed some type of medical marijuana legalization. As of now, there are 30 states with medical marijuana access and more on the ballot this election. In addition, there are 9 states that have allowed the use of recreational marijuana with regulations similar to alcohol.
While many suspect that marijuana reform is a sure way to drive younger voters to the polls, this election cycle may show just how accurate those assumptions are. This is one of the reasons that many candidates running for Senate are supporting marijuana legalization in some form or another hoping it's enough to give their campaigns the boost that they need to win their states. Candidates on both sides are showing their support to end the staunch prohibition that may someday lead to legalization on a national level as well.
Despite the fact that the majority of the states in the US and the public are in support of the end of prohibition, there is still a lot of resistance on a federal level that has many voters asking why? In fact, House Rules Chairman Pete Session (Republican, Texas), Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley (Republican, Iowa), and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (Republican, Virginia) refuse to even entertain the idea of a hearing on ending prohibition on a federal level.
If this type of resistance to the will of the American people continues, there's a good chance that these relics from the past will soon lose their positions. To most, it seems absolutely ridiculous that they would refuse to even let the will of the people be heard through a hearing. With so many states going against this prohibition directly, it's only time before significant problems arise due to this refusal.
While there are members of Congress who are resisting these measures, there are also problems on state and local levels as well. In the states of Massachusetts and Maine, despite voters deciding to legalize and regulate marijuana, there have been long delays to implement these changes. These delays are mainly due to efforts by the governors of the state to stifle what the people are wanting. Those up for election during this gubernatorial race need to be pushed to take a proactive stance on marijuana that represents legalization in a positive way.
As time goes on, more and more of these politicians who are staunchly against marijuana are being unseated in favor of candidates whose beliefs are more in line with their citizens'. In New Jersey, Chris Christie was replaced by Phil Murphy who is pro-legalization. Many people saw the anti-marijuana views of Christie to be bordering on zealotry and coming from a completely uneducated standpoint. This change may help the state strengthen their medical marijuana program which has faced many hurdles during the Christie administration. There is even talk about full legalization taking place as a top priority this year in New Jersey.
In 2016, North Dakota shocked the country by passing medical marijuana laws despite many people believing that the measure didn't stand much of a chance in passing. This election, they have another measure on the ballot when it comes to legalization. This time they are deciding on whether to legalize recreational marijuana after getting enough signatures from supporters of the measure.
The Senate race in North Dakota may play a huge part in whether or not legalization happens more widely in the state as the race between Republican Kevin Cramer and Democrat Heidi Heitkamp. When Heitkamp won in 2012, she was the first Democrat to win in North Dakota in about a decade. This win was only by a 1% margin and with Cramer leading in the poll by 4%, it's expected to be a close race. As of yet, Heitkamp has been rather quiet about where she stands on legalization efforts while Cramer has been clear about his position against it. With the election on the line by such a small margin, only time will tell if Heitkamp will go public supporting legalization hoping to tip the race in her favor.
Texas is another big topic of conversation when it comes to legalizing marijuana. With the approval of Ted Cruz seeming to be constantly sinking, the chances of Democratic candidate Beto O'Rourke replacing his seat in the US Senate is becoming more and more likely as midterms approach. While Ted Cruz has been avidly against legalization for years, Beto O'Rourke wants to pass legalization measures and is considered quite outspoken on the subject.
Even on a local level, marijuana legalization measures have been making an impact on elections. Efforts to decriminalize possession of marijuana in Easton, PA just recently failed last month by just one vote. In states with legal marijuana, individual counties still have the right to opt-out of allowing marijuana to be sold in retail outlets. These local issues can be just as important as those taking place on a state or federal level and it's something that voters and candidates need to keep in mind. In fact, achieving reform may seem more reachable in these smaller jurisdictions and could make a big difference in the long run.
This is such an important election that will have a major impact on ending the prohibition of marijuana. Please make sure your voice is heard and vote.