We’ve officially survived the final debate in what has begun to feel like the longest presidential campaign season in history. Even though the fatigue has begun to set in, we cannot lose steam until we cross the finish line with a victory for cannabis in California on November 8.
Proposition 64 – the Adult Use of Marijuana Act – is not only incredibly important for California’s economy – the state’s current $2.7 billion cannabis market is projected to be a $15 billion industry in five years and that doesn’t even begin to factor in the enormous amount of resources that will be saved by ending the ludicrous “war on drugs” – but the passage of Prop 64 has the potential to impact the country as a whole.
California is in a unique position of influence, both for our own country and perhaps for others around the world. California has the largest population within the U.S. and it is currently the world’s 6th largest economy, making California a much bigger domino.* Should Prop 64 pass it can be expected that California will have a bit of a spotlight on it over the next few years as others observe how the state handles the legalization of cannabis for adult-use. It can be expected that many will be praying for failure, but I think the overwhelming majority of on-lookers will be cheering us on optimistically, hoping that our success may influence their own government’s stance on legalization.
Yes, other states have legalized cannabis for adult-use, but none of them even come close to California’s size, both in terms of population and economy. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Washington, D.C. have a combined population that is less than half of California’s (18,346,286 versus California’s 39,497,345) and the same can be said of their combined GSP in 2015 ($1,173,376 versus California’s $2,448,767). These factors make California that much more of a critical case study for legalized cannabis.
Fortunately, California has had the benefit of observing these innovators in cannabis legalization and many of the “lessons learned” from other states that have been incorporated into Prop 64, including more specific stipulations regarding regulation and taxation.
In addition to having a more thorough and comprehensive initiative on the ballot this year, we also have a much more favorable outlook on cannabis on our side than six years ago when Proposition 19 failed by a narrow margin. We are finally beginning to shed the stigma that has unfairly shrouded cannabis in shame for nearly a century.
According to a recent survey conducted by Cannalytics and in partnership with NORML, adult-use cannabis legalization has now become a bi-partisan issue with 96% of Republicans, Democrats and Independents all agreeing that cannabis should, at the least, be decriminalized. Respondents across the board – regardless of gender, income, age or race – that live in a state where cannabis legalization is on the ballot plan to cast their vote come November. The survey also revealed that 95 percent of respondents – even those that have never tried cannabis before – would prefer to use legal medicinal cannabis over more dangerous and more addictive prescription drugs. Furthermore, a startling 93 percent would even try cannabis as an alternative to over-the-counter pain relievers.
Cannabis has clearly become an issue that people care about and we can anticipate a higher voter turnout this year as a result – at least in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada and North Dakota where either adult-use or medicinal-use are on the ballot.
However, it is also important that voters think beyond just their own state’s laws if we are ever going to see real change in this country when it comes to cannabis and the “war on drugs.” In addition to carefully considering who belongs in the oval office, there are also 400+ seats that are up for grabs in the House of Representatives and the Senate this year. The politicians that we vote into Congress this year are likely to be making decisions vital to continuing the progress that has been made.
So when you are in the voter booth on November 8, don’t disregard the names down the ballot. It is important to remember that the representatives we elect have one main job: To accurately represent our views and beliefs. As Abraham Lincoln stated in the Gettysburg Address, our government is “…of the people, by the people, for the people…” so find the politicians that can best address your concerns and adequately represent you on the Congressional floor. We need Congress to be ready should Prop 64 pass and it blows the door open to federal legalization. It’s high time we rock the vote!
* California has nearly 12 million more residents than the second most populated state, the home of Silicon Valley and Hollywood, and is the leading supplier of the country’s agriculture. It is estimated that California supplies 75% of all the cannabis for U.S. consumers.