Marijuana Policy: Here’s What We Want To See in 2018
The future of the American marijuana industry rests on some serious policy changes, especially on the federal level. The more cannabis becomes an everyday part of the American lifestyle, the more divergence between federal and state law proves itself to be cannabis’ biggest hurdle. Marijuana policy is important, not just to businesses, but to all individuals who use cannabis.
Weed policy is up for some serious revision in 2018, and there are some serious reforms up for debate. 2018 is set to be the biggest year for cannabis yet and needless to say, there’s a lot of (hopefully positive) change on the horizon.
It’s every cannabis advocate’s big goal - to have cannabis legalized on the federal level. Whilst it may seem like a dream at this point, there’s no telling how far the success of federally legalized marijuana could go. Undoing the work of our forefathers would open some important doors, including (but certainly not limited to) better cannabis research and health care.
At the moment, federal prohibition places huge restrictions on research related to cannabis. Marijuana is still placed in the same class as drugs such as cocaine, making it extremely difficult to conduct significant research into the extensive effects of cannabis. Researchers currently have to jump through a series of governmental and political hoops just to get the rights to conduct research. On top of that, the government has a monopoly over all the cannabis used in research - which doesn’t really open up the researching potential, does it?
Either way, medical research is hugely important to marijuana policy. It means knowing, on more than an anecdotal level, what’s really going on with weed - and being able to challenge the reasons it was scheduled in the first place.
If not federal, more state legalization!
2018 has already seen individual states take positive steps in terms of marijuana policy. Both Vermont and New Hampshire have already moved towards voting on marijuana legalization. California became recreationally legal as of January 1 and is set to become the biggest marijuana economy in the United States.
States are asserting their rights despite challenges being thrown at them from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration. Hopefully, we will see more states jump on the legal marijuana bandwagon this year.
Rethinking marijuana ‘crime’
An increasing number of states and cities across the US are coming to terms with the reduction of criminal penalties for marijuana possession and use. US prisons are overflowing and there is a pressing need to differentiate marijuana crimes from crimes that are actually dangerous in nature. Following recreational legalization in California, people previously charged with marijuana crimes can now appeal to have their record expunged.
Even in states where marijuana has not yet been legalized, the social stigma is collapsing. As a nation, we recognize that marijuana policy has been unfair in the past and that no more need to suffer at the hands of harsh cannabis laws. This has a lot to do with state law. Citizens know it costs money to imprison people, not to mention the ramifications on a personal level. In 2018 we expect some more states to step up, if not to legalization, then at least to decriminalization.
The conversation is getting louder and louder this year about marijuana being included in health insurance. It has been legalized as a medical substance in over half of US states and is known to be a therapy for a number of different illnesses including epilepsy. It is probably one of the farthest-reaching medicines that we know of. It’s high time that you should be able to tick the box of “medical marijuana patient” on your insurance form. Marijuana health coverage for 2018? We think it’s important.
And finally, an end to employee discrimination
Unfortunately, employee discrimination remains prevalent in states that have legalized cannabis. Previous marijuana policy has done little to protect the rights of workers who use weed. There is no real protection against being a cannabis user, especially considering many jobs require you to be drug tested. Whilst there is a difference between showing up for work too stoned to focus and using cannabis in moderation, in the eyes of many employers, cannabis use is considered grounds for termination. The unfair truth is that many great employees are discriminated against because of their cannabis use, medical or otherwise. Many have argued that if employers are not testing for alcohol among their workers, they shouldn't test for marijuana either.
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