Will a New President Undo Marijuana's Progress?
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While Congress has in large part turned a blind eye to marijuana legalization on the state level, the next president may enforce federal prohibition more strictly than the current administration.
Marijuana legalization is supported by a majority of Americans, and as the general attitude towards the drug continues to loosen, an increasing number of states will likely pass legalization laws. Even still, some, like Harvard economist Jeff Miron, are fearful that the new presidency may bring with it a crackdown on the 1970 Controlled Substances Act.
“Despite the compelling case for legalization, and progress toward legalization at the state level, ultimate success is not assured,” Miron wrote. “Federal law still prohibits marijuana, and existing jurisprudence, Gonzales v. Raich 2005, holds that federal law trumps state law when it comes to marijuana prohibition. So far, the federal government has mostly taken a hands-off approach to state medicalizations and legalizations, but in January 2017, the country will have a new president. That person could order the Attorney General to enforce federal prohibition regardless of state law.”
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who last year introduced several bills in an effort to loosen the federal government’s grip on the states’ legal marijuana programs, also believes the new president could potentially undo the progress made on marijuana legalization.
“Both Miron’s analysis and conclusion are spot on,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) said. “The federal government needs to end the failed prohibition of marijuana by rescheduling or removing it from the list of controlled substances. Too many lives are ruined and futures cut short by these outdated and wasteful policies.”
Some of the presidential front-runners, like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have voiced their support of marijuana’s legalization. Others, however, like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and current Vice President Joe Biden, have clearly stated they are opposed.