Marijuana, States and Presidential Nominees
The legislative year of 2016 has seen a multitude of bills passed that authorizes the use of marijuana in many states. Marijuana is classed as a Schedule I drug by the US Drug Enforcement Administration. Schedule 1 drugs are defined as one of the “most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.” They also have “no currently accepted medical use.”
However, the trend towards legalization either for recreational or medical purposes in individual states shows a change in stance amongst some legislators nationwide.
Legislation authorizing marijuana use varies from state to state. For example, Maryland passed SB 517 this year, which authorizes an individual to use or possess marijuana paraphernalia. After passing the Senate and the House, the legislation was vetoed by Governor Larry Hogan, Jr.
Nonetheless, the Senate voted 29-17 to override the governor’s veto and pass the legislation. Whilst marijuana paraphernalia has now been authorized in Maryland, the path to passage shows there was conflict between legislators over its authorization.
Other states, such as New Mexico, also introduced legislation this year regarding marijuana. SJR 5, introduced in January, would have authorized an individual who is at least 21 years old to use marijuana, effective in January 2018. However, the bill failed in the Senate with a vote of 17-24. The narrow margin in this vote shows how marijuana is again dividing legislators.
A multitude of states went forth in 2016 to pass bills that specifically authorize the use of medical marijuana. These range from SB 73 in Utah, which authorizes an individual with a “qualifying illness” to be eligible for a medical cannabis card, to SB 3 in Pennsylvania, which establishes a medical marijuana program for patients suffering with “serious medical conditions,” such as cancer, epilepsy, or Parkinson’s.
However, other medical marijuana bills failed, such as SB 171 in South Dakota, which would have authorized a “qualifying patients” to use medical marijuana.
This legislative pattern amongst states has also spread to the presidential race, with all current candidates addressing the issue.
Marijuana has been a popular legislative topic amongst states in 2016, ranging from bills regarding its paraphernalia to its medical authorization. Consequently, it has been an issue mentioned by all candidates in the presidential race.
As states continue to pass bills regulating marijuana usage within their own borders, it becomes more of an issue for the federal government, which classifies it as a Schedule I drug. In addition to this, all the presidential candidates discussing the issue means that after the 2016 election marijuana will most likely continue to stay on the legislative agenda.
Hannah Spencer is a British exchange student at The University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Government and a current intern with Vote Smart. For more information on internship opportunities with Vote Smart, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1-888-VOTE-SMART.