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2018 Marijuana Legislation Progress

For decades, the single, biggest problem with legalizing marijuana was that the U.S. government was implacably opposed to it and as a global superpower, it had the ability to make life very difficult for countries which acted in ways of which it disapproved. If there is one U.S. president in modern history who stands out as the arch-enemy of marijuana, it is arguably not Trump but Reagan, who governed between 1981 and 1989 and died in 2004.

During the Reagan years, the “war on drugs” was taken to a whole new level and growers and users in the U.S. were easy targets for a government eager to flex its “law-and-order” muscles. In spite of all the hardships, however, the marijuana community did not give in, in fact it shipped many a marijuana plant to the safe haven of the Netherlands. Then stepped up its efforts to win the hearts and minds of the U.S. voting public and, over time, it has done so and continues to do so.

Trump has now essentially conceded that the legal status is something each state can decide for itself and has promised to work to reconcile the differences between Federal law and State law.  In other words, 2019, the 30th anniversary of the end of the Reagan administration and the 15th anniversary of his death, may be the year when the U.S. finally goes green and accepts the marijuana plant becomes as acceptable as the spider plant.


As it currently stands, Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Washington D.C., California, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada and Vermont have all legalized recreational marijuana. These and another 19 states also permit cannabis to be used for medical purposes, plus a further 13 states have decriminalized it. There tends to be a general principle of which is to turn a blind eye to people keeping a marijuana plant or two to help with their arthritis. This could be due to the fact that marijuana has been shown to be helpful with treating this condition in multiple studies. Two of those studies can be found here, and here.

However, there is still legal heat on people actively selling large quantities of recreational marijuana.  Now the somewhat improbable trio of Michigan, Utah and Oklahoma are all holding referendums relating to the future of cannabis in each state.


Michigan already allows medical marijuana and although this has passed somewhat under the radar, it is actually looking at extending its medical marijuana programme.  The more visible issue, however, is whether or not the state will legalize recreational marijuana.  While nothing is sealed until it’s done, it’s no secret that the Republicans are hoping to have the issue resolved before the midterm elections in early November. This may be because they fear that effectively putting the issue on the ballot paper then will encourage democrats to head to the polls.  Those with a sense of irony might appreciate the fact that the Republicans appear to see accepting the legal status of the marijuana plant as being important to their chances in a forthcoming election.


Up until recently, the idea of Utah legalizing cannabis, even for medical purposes, might have had many spluttering into their coffee with disbelief, but it’s true, or at least, it’s true that it’s proposed.  Utah has tried legalizing marijuana before and got halfway with the legislation being passed in the Senate but defeated in the Congress.  Possibly part of the reason for this is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (better known as the Mormon Church) is very clearly, publically and outspokenly opposed to any form of legalization of marijuana.  In fact, it’s probably safe to say that it finds the idea of one marijuana plant in all of the U.S. as being one too many and certainly wouldn’t want that one plant in their state.  Interestingly, however, polls suggest that the actual people of Utah, otherwise known as voters, are in favour of it, a fact politician can not afford to ignore.


The final state coming over the the side of the marijuana community is Oklahoma which again is proposing to introduce it only for medical purposes.  Again, while this is by no means a done deal, it’s interesting to note that the Republican governor has scheduled the vote for June for exactly the same reasons as in Michigan. Oklahoma is also significant because it is just north of Texas, two of whose other neighbouring states, New Mexico and Arkansas, also offer medical marijuana.  Some people believe that if Oklahoma approves medical marijuana, Texas will do likewise and that at that point, it will become untenable for the Federal government to offer any serious opposition to it.

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