As far as the experts are concerned, recreational cannabis decriminalisation in California could represent the most important step of all towards weed prohibition being brought to an end across the entire United States.
For residents of the US and those living abroad, it is easy to forget that technically speaking, cannabis is still completely illegal across all 50 states. Despite the fact that more than half of the country has legalized medical marijuana and a handful of states now permit recreational cannabis, weed is still classified as illegal under Federal law. Which is precisely why the vast majority of people do not know whether they are coming or going, given the way in which nationwide cannabis policy is so incredibly contradictory, confusing and convoluted.
In a sense, those who are currently enjoying recreational cannabis in states where it is legal don’t really have to care a great deal about pot’s classification at a Federal level. As can be seen, it isn’t really making a great deal of difference to the average person’s lifestyle. In addition, the same can also be said for the vast majority of medical marijuana patients, residing in states medical pot is now legal. Just as long as they are able to access exactly what they need when they need it, the Federal classification of cannabis is of little consequence.
Consequences For Canna Business
Where it is of enormous consequence is on the business end of the spectrum. United States as a whole is on the verge of developing the most spectacularly lucrative and successful legal cannabis industry in history. The only problem being that while ever the Federal government continues to classify cannabis as illegal, those looking to set up, fund or work with cannabis businesses are finding themselves slightly daunted by the prospect of doing so. Indeed, it is still largely impossible to gain funding or support of any kind from major banks, lenders and financial institutions, if the business area you’re in has anything to do with cannabis.
Which is precisely where the importance of the vote in California comes into the equation. To be frank, it’s largely nonsensical that the Federal government made the decision to uphold its ban on cannabis, despite the fact that Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska have for some time been allowing recreational cannabis to be used relatively freely. And of course, dozens of states have been working hard to make the best of medical marijuana. As far as the experts are concerned, we could now be seeing the most pivotal turning point of all when and where the Federal government can no longer bury its head in the sand and pretend nothing is happening.
“If we’re successful, it’s the beginning of the end of the war on marijuana,” Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor of California and former mayor of San Francisco, told the New York Times.
“If California moves, it will put more pressure on Mexico and Latin America writ large to reignite a debate on legalization there.”
California Leads The Way On Legalization
For some time, the state of California has been regarded as perhaps the single most significant with regard to the potential future for cannabis policy nationwide. The reason being that not only is it the most populous state in North America, but it is also earmarked to become the single most powerful and enormous legal cannabis industry in the country. California has the sixth largest economy in the entire world and could on its own generate no less than $4 billion in annual cannabis revenues by the end of the current decade.
On a nationwide basis, total income from medical and recreational cannabis for the United States could reach more than $22 billion per year within the next four years. What’s more, it is largely inevitable that this will increase significantly as additional states follow the examples set by those that have already begun exploiting cannabis for the incredible value and benefits it holds.
More Than Money
The thing is, if it was all about financial gain alone, there would still be an extraordinarily strong argument in favour of cannabis decriminalisation. Of course, it’s about far more than tax dollars. Instead, it’s about millions of patients across the United States with chronic and life-affecting health conditions, who have found themselves finding safe, effective, affordable and life-improving relief in medical marijuana. The scientific and medical communities alike have been united in their calls for medicinal cannabis to be legalized nationwide, just as those who count on cannabis in order to get by are continually pleading with the government to listen to their cases.
Whilst all this is going on, the federal government and its Drug Enforcement Administration still classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug. This means in official terms that cannabis supposedly has a “high potential for abuse” and is not officially accepted as a substance that has any beneficial medical properties. Just to put things into perspective, this is exactly the same classification under which you will find heroin.
Cannabis Abuse Rates Reduce
Regardless of your personal take on cannabis, there is no denying that it is absolutely nonsensical and borderline insulting to place pot in the same bracket as heroin. Not only this, but it represents a slap in the face to each and every individual who relies on medical marijuana to get by. Likewise, evidence to date has shown that in regions where recreational and/or medical marijuana have been legalized, the states in question have experienced nothing but positive progress as a result. Criminal drug dealers driven off the streets, more police time to spend on more important matters and an actual decrease in cannabis overuse and abuse rates. In addition, surveys have also shown that allowing cannabis to be used on a recreational basis legally to a large extent removes its appeal in the eyes of the young and impressionable.
Still, given the fact that these policies and laws are drawn up and implemented by those who know considerably less about cannabis than the average medical pot user, it’s a pretty sorry state of affairs to say the least.
Still, on the plus side it could be a sorry state of affairs that will soon be overhauled once and for all. Realistically, it has to be – exactly how many states need to legalize marijuana, before the Federal government catches up with its own classification?