Medical Marijuana Makes A Clean Sweep in 2016 Election
Last night, the voters in Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota approved state medical cannabis ballots, with three of the four receiving landslide support! Patient advocates in these states will now turn their attention to working with state agencies to swiftly implement these laws. With a total of 44 states having some sort of medical cannabis law and 29 comprehensive programs, medical cannabis has firmly established itself as a mainstream issue. The clean sweep of state medical cannabis ballot initiatives was easily the best news for medical cannabis patients, but there were additional victories for patients as well.
Three of the vocal most opponents to medical cannabis in Congress, Representatives John Mica (R-FL), John Fleming (R-LA), and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) lost their respective bids for the House and Senate. Along with the retirement of Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), who has blocked a hearing on the CARERS Act (H.R. 1538/S. 683) as Chair of his subcommittee, a new power dynamic could emerge in the House to advance medical cannabis legislation. On the Senate side, CARERS Act original cosponsor Rand Paul (R-KY) was reelected while Senators-Elect Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Todd Young (R-IN) have solid voting records on medical cannabis from their terms as House Reps. Patient advocates will need to make sure the Republican leadership in the House and Senate will respect the rights of states to set their own medical cannabis policies.
If the new Congress, Department of Justice, DEA or any other agency were to crackdown on state medical cannabis programs, they would be going against the many public statements President-Elect Trump has made in support of medical cannabis. “I think medical should happen, right? Don’t we agree? I mean I think so… I know people that are very, very sick and for whatever reason, the marijuana really helps them,” Trump said on the campaign trail. When asked if he would allow an Attorney General like Chris Christie to crackdown on state marijuana programs, Trump responded, “I wouldn’t do that, no.” He went on to say, “I think it’s up to the states. I’m a states person. I think it should be up to the states, absolutely.”
Patient advocates will need to make sure that the next Congress and the Administration stick to President-Elect Trump’s stated position in support of medical cannabis and allowing states to set their own policies. One way you can join this effort is by participating in ASA’s next Unity Conference: Cannabis in Modern Medicine, April 7-12, 2017 in Washington, D.C. During the conference, patient advocates will meet with the Members of Congress as we work towards harmonizing state and federal medical laws. We hope you will join us to have your voice heard in Congress.
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