Mary Jane and Politics are Becoming Fast Friends

PTSD marijuana protest

As voters legalize marijuana state after state, politicians are starting to realize that marijuana may be good for their careers. A poll last April showed that at least 64 percent of Americans approve of legalizing marijuana and 91 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. Politicians are taking notice, and many have joined forces with marijuana advocates and are either endorsing legalizing marijuana outright or legalizing some form of the plant for medicinal purposes.

States with legal medical marijuana are also expanding on conditions that qualify for cannabis. A judge in Illinois ordered that intractable pain be added to the list of qualifying conditions last Tuesday. Intractable pain is defined as pain that hasn't responded to other treatment. The order is part of a trend throughout the country as the medical community and politicians alike are learning that cannabis really does help sick people.

Studies have proven that many people who are prescribed opioid narcotics have found relief from marijuana that has significantly decreased or eliminated their dependency on opiates, without the dangerous (and often fatal) side effects. A recent study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed that 97 percent of patients surveyed agreed that marijuana consumption resulted in them decreasing their doses of opiates. 

Democrats and Republicans are Embracing Legalization

State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) is in support of legalizing recreational marijuana as well as medical marijuana, citing the current trend and probability that it is going to happen eventually. He added that fiscal conservatives should enter the debate and be part of writing the legislation that will influence the outcome instead of watching it happen from the sidelines.

Barickman also said that the state could lower income taxes, secure pensions, lower the debt, and pay bills with the tax revenue made from legal marijuana. Sales of recreational marijuana in Illinois are estimated to be at least $700 million annually. Another state senator, Kentucky Sen. Dan Seum (R-Fairdale), has proposed a bill to legalize marijuana for adults over 21.

The senator has said that now is the time to regulate and tax something that is already readily available, adding that Kentucky could use the estimated $200 million annually that legal marijuana sales would generate in part for pensions.

Republican gubernatorial candidate from New York, Joel Giambra, is also in favor of legalizing marijuana. Forbes reported that Giambra has a proposal for legalizing weed that would use the tax revenue from marijuana sales for fixing the infrastructure and subway system.

A Democratic gubernatorial candidate for the state of Illinois also favors legalizing marijuana. Philanthropist JB Pritzker told reporters recently that he supported legalization because of its health benefits as well as the negative impact that criminalization has had on communities of color.

New Jersey has a new Democratic governor that campaigned on marijuana legalization. Phil Murphy was just sworn in as governor of the state and promised to legalize marijuana in his inaugural speech.

The new Democratic governor of Virginia is also weed-friendly. Gov. Ralph Northam used decriminalizing marijuana as a large part of his campaign. Northam is also a doctor and says that the evidence shows us that marijuana has the potential to treat epilepsy, intractable pain, and PTSD. He believes that decriminalization will permit more scientific research so that we can finally understand all the health benefits of the cannabis plant.

After US Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked the Obama-era protection that protected states with legalized marijuana from federal prosecution, a Republican senator from Colorado, Sen. Cory Gardner, was angered and is promising to block all Department of Justice nominations if the federal government interferes with state policies.

Legalizing marijuana has been good for the state's economy. Colorado pot shops earned more than $120 in marijuana sales last November alone.