DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Let it be known that we’re still more than a year away from the 2016 presidential election, and the issues that will decide the election are still being felt out. However, with each day that passes it looks more and more plausible that marijuana and the federal government’s views on marijuana will play an increasingly important role in the election.
Why marijuana is a hot-button issue
It’s not tough to understand why marijuana has become such a hot-button issue. Three well-respected national polls — Gallup, Pew Research Center, and General Society Survey — have all shown that a slim majority of respondents now have a favorable view of marijuana, with smaller, independent studies that have focused on swing states demonstrating that support for the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes is even higher. The people have spoken via polls, and more people than not want to see the federal ban on marijuana lifted.
But individual states aren’t sitting on their hands while the federal government weighs an eventual legalization or decriminalization of the currently illegal drug at some point in the future. Since 1996, 23 states have legalized the use of medical marijuana (as well as Washington, D.C.), with four states — Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Colorado — along with Washington, D.C. legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes.