Even though the 2016 presidential election is still a year away, with so many issues on the table it’s hard to avoid. While there are currently more than a dozen candidates vying for the spotlight from both sides of the aisle, the issues they are talking about is what’s really important.
One of those issues is the legalization of marijuana and the role the government should play in regulating it. Several candidates, including Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Rand Paul, are for expanded legalization efforts across the country. While one single candidate may not have all of the answers, we’re here to rundown some of the biggest ways the issue is playing a role in this election season.
Rather than just have each state vote on whether or not cannabis should be legal, a few candidates – like Sanders, who recently outlined his proposal – have suggest that marijuana should simply be “descheduled” from the list of controlled substances. If this were to happen, the Controlled Substances Act would not any legal bearing on marijuana. In many ways, this would be a more drastic and efficient method than having each state vote on the issue separately, but the proposal may have a tough time getting through Congress. Of course, states would still need to decide individually whether or not cannabis can be sold there and what policies might be for consumption – whether smoking would be allowed, or only the use of dry herb vaporizers, for example – but it would decriminalize the drug, which many people also point out would lead to fewer people losing their jobs or being prosecuted for violations under the law.
One of the reasons that this idea of descheduling has become important during this election is because of the potential benefits the decision would have. The state of the economy is something every candidate is talking about to great degree, and legalizing marijuana is poised to be one way to increase tax revenues in many states. Not only would legalizing marijuana across the board drastically change and expand the industry, but it would create to untold amounts of new taxable revenue, open new job opportunities for growers, paraphernalia, vaporizer pen retailers and legal product distributors, not to mention the other rippling benefits across the entire economy.
While Sanders has spoken at length about his ideas in regards to marijuana legalization, we still don’t know where many of the candidates stand. As more people drop out of the race and it becomes clearer who will be the Democratic and Republican nominees, there is no doubt that each candidate will have to speak about this issue. Now, more than ever before, this issue is something that is on the radar in statehouses in just about every state in the country, and the legalization of marijuana is only going to become more prominent in the next year.