03.28.2017
policy

Mostly Everyone In The U.S., Except For Republicans, Favors Legal Weed

Legal marijuana is a divisive issue within the G.O.P.

A significant portion of the country favors reform of national marijuana laws. A February 2017 Quinnipiac University poll has more than 50 percent of Americans saying they're down with the notion of legalized cannabis or federal rescheduling. Mostly everyone in the country thinks marijuana should be legal... Except for the Republican party, that is. Without doubt, the G.O.P. is decidedly not down with the legal W-E-E-D.

From the Quinnipiac University poll:

“Marijuana should be made legal in the U.S., voters say 59 – 36 percent. Republicans are opposed 61 – 35 percent and voters over 65 years old are opposed 51 – 42 percent. Every other party, gender, education, age and racial group listed supports legalized marijuana. Voters support 93 – 6 percent legalized marijuana for medical purposes if prescribed by a doctor.”

To be sure, cannabis came out on top in the 2016 elections, resulting in legalized weed (in some form) in 28 states, including eight states welcoming recreational marijuana use. While most of these new programs are moving forward as expected, the new administration of President Donald J. Trump has tamped down marijuana-talk through a combination of tough talk, inconsistent or competing policy positions, and ambiguous statements.

It's simply not clear whether nor to what extent federal resources will be utilized to control or quash our developing cannabis industry. On one hand, in written responses to senatorial questions, Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions has committed “to enforcing federal law with respect to marijuana.” On the other, on the campaign trail Trump pretty consistently signaled support for state medical marijuana laws. 

What is clear, according to the Quinnipiac poll: 71 percent of the more than 1,000 surveyed participants believe “the government should not enforce federal laws against marijuana in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana use.”

It's also possible that all this talk is cheap, on both sides of the issue: a March 2017-released report from Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics, providers of weed world data and industry insights, says that in 2016, U.S. consumers spent $6.7 billion on legal cannabis, and that creative product branding and evolving state laws will have marijuana markets continue to grow at an annual rate of 27 percent, “even if Trump cracks down.” 

Troy Dayton, CEO of Arcview Market Research, said in a press release on the report:

“While the uncertainty created by the mixed signals coming out of the administration may cause a temporary dip in some valuations of cannabis companies and some more risk-averse institutional investors and multinational companies may continue to stay on the sidelines, it won’t impact the growth of the market much at all. No matter what the administration does, states will continue to issue cannabis licenses to a long line of applicants and licensed cannabis outlets will continue to have long lines of consumers ready to purchase this product from regulated establishments.”

Despite the G.O.P’s aversion to legal marijuana, last week, Betty Price, a medical doctor and the wife of Trump’s Health Secretary Tom Price––who has numerous times voted against marijuana reform––voted in favor of a resolution that would move cannabis out of its current classification as a Schedule I drug. That designation, according to the Controlled Substances Act that governs the Drug Enforcement Administration, asserts that marijuana has no accepted medicinal value. Of course, that's just completely untrue.

Mrs. Price’s decision was reportedly based on the notion that she believes in order to make progress in the medical marijuana space, additional research is necessary. And at status quo, weed-studies are very difficult to conduct under restrictions pursuant to marijuana's Schedule I classification.

Mr. President: if you're reading this, let's make a deal.

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