The legalization of marijuana in some states has not led to an increase of its use among adolescents as stated by Deborah Hasin and her colleagues from Columbia University Medical Center in New York. Since 1996, 23 US states, including the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of cannabis. Also in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia recreational use of marijuana is legalized. Such legal solutions have traditionally caused a lot of criticisms among opponents of legalization, which forecasted growth of drug users, including teenagers. However, research data obtained in the 24 years from more than a million teenagers in 48 states, have not confirmed these concerns.
Legal marijuana market in the US is growing rapidly. Last year was estimated at $ 2.7 billion, this year is expected to increase by another 86%. New opportunities are attracting more and more companies from Silicon Valley, as stated by The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, more and more states are ready to legalize marijuana as a legal alternative to heroin and other heavy drugs. In 2013, support for such a measure in the United States has exceeded 50%.
The subject of marijuana legalization is relevant to the presidential elections in 2016, as candidates can’t ignore the growing market. US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders proposed the deletion of marijuana from the federal list of banned substances. “Lives of too many Americans were destroyed because of convictions for marijuana use. This is wrong. The procedure needs to be changed”, – said Sanders during a speech to students at George Mason University. Also, he said that among white and black people marijuana use frequency is almost the same, but black people are way more likely to be arrested for its storage. Donald Trump lately softened his tone on legalization of marijuana, saying that states should be allowed to legalize marijuana if they are willing to do so.
Donald Trump stated that he supports making medical marijuana available to patients who are really sick. “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state”, – said Trump during a political rally.
Another candidate Hillary Clinton proposed to loosen restrictions on cannabis. “What I do want is for us to support research into medical marijuana because a lot more states have passed medical marijuana than have legalized marijuana, so we have got two different experiences or even experiments going on right now,” – candidate said. “The problem with medical marijuana is there is a lot of anecdotal evidence about how well it works for certain conditions. But we haven’t done any research. Why? Because it is considered that is called a schedule one drug and you can’t even do research in it.”
Jeb Bush being a presidential candidate stated that he had smoked marijuana about 40 years ago, adding that his parents probably won’t be happy to hear it, however, a few weeks after his teenage marijuana habit made headlines, the Republican presidential candidate came out with an opinion that states have to develop their own decisions on legal cannabis.“I thought it was a bad idea,” Jeb Bush said at the Conservative Political Action Conference, “but states ought to have the right to do it.”
At least seven states are planning to bring to court of the voters the question of the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes in the next year. However, a lot of attention of ordinary Americans, politicians and analysts was focused on Ohio marijuana legalization initiative, as it is the first state of the Midwest of the country, which has expressed its attitude on this issue. Many experts believe the results of the last voting are indicative and control throughout the country, because the majority of Americans vote the same as a fairly conservative and “traditionally minded” voters of Ohio. Attitude to the legalization of marijuana in the United States is ambiguous. Recent medical studies have shown that smoking it in small amounts is almost harmless, but many still consider it to be a drug.
Supporters of the legalization of marijuana in the United States expect to organize up to a dozen referendums in various states over the next few years. In 2016, the vote could take place in Arizona, California and Nevada. US President Barack Obama do not support the legalization of marijuana at the federal level, but does not intend to impede the referendum in the States. He believes that “marijuana is not more harmful than alcohol.”
Legalization of marijuana in the United States is important for the rest of the world: in the case of successful experience of the states will be an example for other countries and help in the global fight against drug trafficking, which is currently at an impasse and provoke a social tension in the Third World.