Lawmakers have really gone a long way when it comes to talking about marijuana legalization. After deliberately avoiding the topic in the past, now they have openly discussed such things in the annual National Conference of State Legislatures held last month in Seattle.
Policy makers sought guidance from Colorado and Washington lawmakers, who had been implementing legal marijuana in their states for more than a year now. One of the main questions was the role of the federal government in the legalization of weed on the state level, especially since the 2016 presidential elections can become a pivotal moment for legal weed.
“Whoever becomes president is going to have a lot to say about how the DEA enforces and doesn’t enforce, so I think this becomes a huge presidential issue,” said Florida state representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda.
There are expectations that several states will put the question in a referendum next year. Likewise, lawmakers from around 20 states are proposing the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016.
But according to Washington state senator Ann Rivers, it is better not to entrust things to the ballot and simply get lawmakers to put matters into their own hands. “Better to get out in front of it, to find your policy and educate people about the policy you created, rather than having someone foisted on you,” she said. She also urged other states to address both medical and recreational marijuana at the same time so as to create one system for pot regulation.
Another issue is the public consumption of marijuana.
Early this year, Washington has outlawed consumption of weed in designated pot bars and clubs. On the other hand, Colorado is expected to permit them by next year.
For Seattle senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, the latter is a much better strategy. She said, “I think having a club where people can go—with state regulations—is a much better approach.”
What do you think of legalizing marijuana on a national level? Voice your opinions in the comments section below—your opinion matters to the nation.