Do you think that federal cannabis legalization is inevitable? And if so, when can we expect it?
While more than two-thirds of Americans are supportive of marijuana legalization, according to the newest survey conducted by YouGov, industry experts agree there are very slim chances of seeing the reform this year thanks to staunch opposition from many politicians, mainly Republicans,
In a recent interview with a Pensacola TV station, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican revealed his reasons for taking a stance against federal cannabis legalization. Among his main worries: the concept of cannabis as a “gateway” drug, or one leading users to other, more dangerous drugs.
"When you decriminalize something, the message that you're basically sending people is it must not be that bad," Rubio said. "Now, suddenly, you're an 18- or 17-year-old, [and you] say, 'well, I know marijuana, you tell me not to smoke it, but you know what? It can't be that bad, because the federal government made it legal.'”
Although there is a logic behind this idea that things that are legal couldn’t be that bad, several surveys already revealed that marijuana legalization is not related to higher youth usage rates, with the latest report confirming this being published in March by The Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education and Regulation.
What else did Rubio say about cannabis reform?
What Is The Source Of The Problem?
Another argument Rubio makes against marijuana legalization is that cannabis bought from illegal sources has been laced with the strong opioid fentanyl, a drug involved in about 30,000 overdose deaths last year.
The main problem with this argument is that it can actually be used to support marijuana legalization, because the idea behind the reform is to have a legal and controlled market that sells only tested and safe products, lowering the chances for any cannabis products laced with other illegal and dangerous drugs. Marijuana prohibition actually boosts the booming illicit market with unregulated, and therefore often unsafe, products.
What’s more, medical cannabis has been shown to have the potential to help with ending the opioid national crisis, according to several surveys.
Did Rubio Ever Try Pot?
Interestingly though, the senator is one of those politicians who dodged this question when asked by Daily Mail, and as reported by Reason.
“I'll tell you why I never answer that question," he said back in 2014. "If I tell you that I haven't, you won't believe me. And if I tell you that I did, then kids will look up to me and say, 'well, I can smoke marijuana because look how he made it.'"
It has been reported though, that Rubio has a “long history speaking against marijuana.”
Rubio Is Not Alone In Opposing Cannabis Reform
Even though the House of Representatives approved the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, H.R. 3617 on April 1, sending it to the Senate, the big cannabis battle isn’t over.
The MORE Act, which aims to remove cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances Act, allowing states to legalize cannabis, its production, and sale, free from federal interference, seems to have many opponents.
Earlier this month when asked at the Capitol about the MORE Act, Sen. Rick Scott, a Florida Republican, said, “OK, I don’t support that. I’ve had family members who have had a lot of drug issues, and so I’m not going to do it,” reported CNSNews.
Some other senators were asked if they'd ever consumed marijuana and if not, then why not?
Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, replied, “I don’t because it’s illegal and because it’s harmful to you. It’s not healthy.” Although Cruz might be against it and he is not using it now, his spokesman said recently that the senator “foolishly experimented with marijuana" as a teenager.
This is something probably most politicians can probably relate to, considering that the National Survey on Drug Use and Health has confirmed that most Americans between the ages of 20 and 65 have tried marijuana at some point in their lives.
Rubio, Cruz, and Scott are clear about their stance on the reform, and they are not alone.
On the bright side, many still believe that even though we probably won’t see federal marijuana legalization this year, the reform is inevitable, or as the CEO of Canopy Growth CGC once said, this is “a question of when, not if.”
Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
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