MARIJUANA POLICY PROJECT

MARIJUANA POLICY PROJECT/THE

People are changing their minds about marijuana. In less than a generation, public opinion has turned

sharply away from prohibition and penalties in favor of legalization. Canada allowed the sale of weed for

recreational use on Oct. 17, becoming the second country to do so after Uruguay. Voters in 10 U.S. states

and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational pot, permitting about a quarter of Americans to

consume it freely. While marijuana remains illegal on the federal level, President Donald Trump appeared

to get out of the states’ way when he endorsed allowing them to decide how to regulate the drug, against his

attorney general’s policy. A multi-billion-dollar investment boom is underway in North America.

e Situation

The U.S. legal cannabis industry is gaining economic and political clout. It employs more than 200,000

workers and is on track to generate $11 billion in sales in 2018 While a figure that could reach $75 billion by

2030, by one estimate. It also provides a tax windfall. Colorado collected nearly $250 million in taxes and

fees from the cannabis industry in 2017.

More than 30 states now allow some form of medical or other use. Trump hasn’t issued any formal policy.

Legalization in Canada opened the floodgates for companies to access capital markets through stock

offerings and consumers in some provinces can buy pot online. In Latin America  — the long-time origin for

much of the cannabis consumed in the U.S. Furthermore Uruguay was ahead of the curve when it legalized

in 2013, in defiance of an international drug treaty. Its president had urged bigger countries to reconsider

their strategy in the drug war. Mexico, which like many nations has refrained from pursuing individuals for

pot use in recent years, may move toward a legal market under its leftist president-elect, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Mayors in the Netherlands, which has tolerated pot smoking in its coffee shops since the 1970s,

have called on the Dutch government to start regulating growers and sellers, mirroring the approach of American states.

The Background

Cannabis has been used since ancient times for its fiber in addition to its medicinal and mood-altering

effects. It was effectively outlawed in the U.S. in the 1930s, at about the same time that a 13-year prohibition

on alcohol was overturned through a constitutional amendment. Pot was demonized by the 1936 black-and-

white cult film “Reefer Madness,” a cautionary tale of corrupted teens.

Support for legalization in the U.S. grew after states began permitting medical use of the plant to treat pain

and nausea in patients with AIDS and cancer. California was the first state to allow it in 1996. Even with

wider acceptance in the U.S., about 588,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession in 2016, more

than those arrested for all violent crimes. The continuing clash of federal and state laws has

created uncertainty over what’s legal, and where. Federal authorities in August 2016 denied a petition

to remove marijuana from Schedule 1 classification .He harshest of five government lists that includes

heroin, LSD and Ecstasy. Weed’s presence on Schedule I has kept some U.S. banks, institutional investors

and credit card companies away from the business.

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