DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: As the November 4th midterm elections approach, everyone interested in marijuana policy islooking at various voter initiatives across the country: legal adult use of marijuana in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., and a robust medical cannabis law in Florida. But as interesting as it is to see which parts of the country will be the next to reform their marijuana laws, the reality is that every candidate on every ballot represents a chance to vote on medical marijuana.
Every session of Congress and each state legislature marks a chance to bring America’s public policy more in line with public opinion and medical science. As much as 85 percent of voters nationwide have expressed support for legal access to cannabis when a doctor recommends it, with physicians and researchers expressing a similar consensus on its efficacy in safely treating a remarkably broad range of serious medical conditions. Today, the only real barriers to sensible medical cannabis policy are the lawmakers themselves.
Within the last year, fourteen states have legalized medical cannabis in one or more of its forms. Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure that would prevent the DOJ from interfering with state marijuana laws and another preventing the US Treasury from going after state-compliant medical cannabis business. Each of the measures were passed by politicians not voter referendum. To date, 34 states and the District of Columbia have passed some kind of legislation recognizing the benefits of medical cannabis only 11 of these laws were passed by voter initiative and all of them have been further defined by state legislation.