Have you ever wondered why only some of the states in the United States allow their citizens legal access to a safe and effective medication?
Have you ever wondered why even though most Americans would love to see medical cannabis legalized and a large portion would also prefer recreational cannabis to be legal rather than alcohol and tobacco, that they still have no access to cannabis legally?
If so, you are not alone. Now there are many reasons why this could be but if you look at the process to legalize cannabis in the U.S. in specific states, you will start to see a pattern.
There are two ways individual states can legalize cannabis
In the United States there are two basic ways in which individual states can legalize or decriminalize cannabis. These two methods are ballot initiatives or politician introduced legislation. Over half of the states in the U.S. allow laws to be passed by ballot initiatives. Ballot initiatives must be introduced and approved. Once approved they must receive enough voter signatures to be placed on the ballot during the next election. Once on the ballot, the rest is up to the voters. In the rest of the states however, the process is much different.
In these states, to legalize or decriminalize cannabis, or pass any law for that matter, legislation must be introduced by a politician. The legislation once introduced must be assigned to the appropriate committee for amendments and voting. Once it passes through the House and Senate committees, it then still must receive the signature of the state governor. Nowhere during this process do voters get to vote on laws or legislation, it is left entirely up to the judicial system and the politicians we elect to represent us. So now that you know a little more about how legalization comes to be in the states, let’s look at its correlation to states that have took steps to legalize and those that have not.
Here is a list of states that allow for citizen backed ballot initiatives:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- District of Columbia
Of these 27 states, 20 of them have a comprehensive medical cannabis program. 8 of them allow for adult recreational cannabis. 4 additional states offer CBD only laws but no comprehensive medical program. That only leaves 3 states out of the states with citizen lead ballot initiatives that haven’t passed some form of cannabis reform. When you look at the states where legalization can only pass by the legislative process however, the statistics are not as favorable.
The following is a list of states that do not allow for a ballot initiative process
These are backed by the will and legislation presented by politicians through the legislative process.
- New York
- Rhode Island
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
- New Jersey
Of these 23 states, 10 of them have a comprehensive medical cannabis program. Only 1 of them have legalized for adult recreational purposes. Additionally, 10 of these states allow for CBD and/or low THC products with mass restrictions for patient qualifications. Many of these CBD only states also provide zero access for patients to obtain their medical cannabis legally in the state.
So, what does that mean?
Well, if you ask me, it means that in the states where citizens rely upon their politicians to change laws, their views and wishes are not being properly represented. This seems to be especially true when you look at some of the statistics surrounding the viewpoints of citizens in these states.
Tennessee– “77 percent of 2018 voters have a favorable opinion of legalizing medical marijuana.”
Kentucky– 68% of voters say yes to legalizing, taxing, and regulating cannabis sales for adults.
South Carolina– 61% of voters support legalizing medical marijuana and allowing doctors in the state to recommend it for specific conditions.
North Carolina– 63% of voters support the legalization of medical cannabis and 42% support full legalization.
It is quite ironic that a country that is “United” has such divided laws and legislative processes. It is time to end the prohibition on cannabis once and for all by removing cannabis and all its derivatives from the Controlled Substances Act entirely!