There are a few reasons why 2016 is shaping up to have marijuana prohibition as an important fringe issue which could help swing states to presidential hopefuls ( Lets be honest here, it will be Jeb vs. Hillary ) . Ending marijuana prohibition is back in the spotlight, and this time there’s no going back. In state after state the majority is voting to put an end to the failed drug war and the billions wasted on marijuana prohibition ( not to mention the lives lost ) . Marijuana is an interesting issue since it has support on both sides of the aisle. The GOP likes to frame the marijuana issue as one involving state’s rights, and ( should ) support states voting to legalize the herb. Whereas the Dems tend to tout the end of marijuana prohibition as an issue which will help mainly poor and minority residents who suffer from high incarceration rates, and the loss of federal loans for college because of simple marijuana possession offenses. Make no mistake, with the wave of both recreational and medicinal use of marijuana sweeping the country, it’s an issue that any presidential candidate will have to field.
Last year, Jeb Bush opposed a proposed amendment to the Florida state constitution that would have legalized medical marijuana in the state. By blocking the amendment he stopped the state from getting the 60% needed to override his opposition, and the amendment died. This coming on the heels of the fact that Jeb was an admitted former marijuana user while studying at an elite prep school in Andover. Whether it’s the hypocrisy of his position, or the simple fact that marijuana prohibition is going the way of the dinosaur, I believe that Jeb will attempt to dodge the issue during the 2016 campaign. And play up the “state’s rights” component. It will be an issue he wants to sweep under the rug, and if the media doesn’t make it an issue, expect it not to be talked about much.
Hillary has stated that “I didn’t do it when I was young. I’m not going to start now,” and has said that she is opposed to marijuana legalization. She’s going to take a wait and see approach to the issue. She’ll probably continue in Obama’s footsteps and say that she’s “not interested in using Department of Justice Resources” to go after pot smokers, and will also simply want the issue to go away. The evidence is clear that the states which have ended prohibition are not undergoing any cataclysmic side effects, and in Colorado, the youth usage rate is actually already dropping. Nonetheless I imagine that Hillary will take a position that allows her not to take any position at all.
This leaves us in a pretty cynical place in American politics. While there are candidates such as Sanders on the left, and Rand Paul on the right who both support legalization they simply don’t have the money and power to take on the issue. Jeb and Hillary both have teams of analysts and with this election expected to top a billion in spending, you better believe that little of that money will be spent on policy issues involving weed. Most of it will be spent on ads, and writers. Ending prohibition is an issue which will overall more likely help Hillary as opposed to Jeb, since she is at least leaving the door open on legalization whereas Jeb has made it clear that he’s against efforts of states to make to decriminalize the usage of it.