Upcoming elections could be turning point for marijuana reform

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There’s a good chance the national elections in November will lead to cannabis change in the US

Voters in various states will decide on legalizing cannabis in the upcoming elections. Most of the US population lives in states where marijuana is legal in some form, and 11 states have fully legalized cannabis for adult use. Regardless of who wins, there’s a chance that cannabis reform will become a priority during the next administration.

Even in the historically conservative Mississippi, voters could legalize medicinal marijuana, which is already allowed in 33 states. The presidential election could also alter the landscape for cannabis reform, as Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has said he would decriminalize the use of marijuana, while expunging all prior cannabis use convictions and ending jail time for drug use alone. Vice presidential nominee and Sen. Kamala Harris of California has said legalizing cannabis at the federal level is the “smart thing to do.” “Change doesn’t come from Washington but to Washington,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “States are sending a clear message to the federal government that their constituencies want to see cannabis legalization.”

Those backing legalization point out that legal sales of cannabis mean more tax money for education and other services. States have been pushed to the brink by the coronavirus pandemic, and legalizing cannabis would bring much-needed tax revenue. One Arizona estimate predicts $255 million a year could be raised for state and local governments. Cannabis sales are soaring and Arcview Market Research/BDSA expects US sales to reach $16.3 billion this year, up from $12.4 billion in 2019. Mr. Hawkins, the Marijuana Policy Project executive director, expects more states to legalize cannabis in 2021. “There is clearly a tide,” Mr. Hawkins said. “We are moving toward a critical mass of states that … will bring about the end of federal prohibition on cannabis.”