Monday, November 28, 2016


PS:  Personally, I do not do drugs, not even marijuana.

"What's next for marijuana legalization" PBS NewsHour 11/25/2016


SUMMARY:  On November 8, multiple states legalized the use of marijuana for either recreational or medicinal purposes -- thus marking a major shift in U.S. drug policy.  William Brangham speaks with Taylor West of the National Cannabis Administration and Jonathan Hudak of the Brookings Institution about marijuana law and how it might evolve under President-elect Donald Trump's upcoming administration.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  Legalizing marijuana was on the ballot in nine different states in this past election.  And except in Arizona, they all passed.  Four states, Montana, North Dakota, Arkansas, and Florida, voted to legalize use of marijuana for certain medical conditions.  And four other states, Maine, Nevada, Massachusetts, and California, legalized marijuana for anyone 21 years and over.

This means that millions more people will be able to purchase marijuana in sanctioned state-approved shops, but, according to federal law, the drug is still illegal, and the Trump administration could choose on day one to start enforcing that law.

To help us understand the complexity of all this, I'm joined now by Taylor West, who is the deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, and John Hudak, who studies drug policy, among other things, at the Brookings Institution.

Welcome to you both.

Taylor, I would like to start with you first.

Election Day had to be an enormous day for your industry.  Do you think of this as a tipping point going forward?

TAYLOR WEST, Deputy Director, National Cannabis Industry Association:  Absolutely.  This was a watershed day for the industry of cannabis, but also for cannabis policy in the U.S.

We saw, as you said, eight states vote for some form of legal, regulated marijuana program.  We now have 20 percent of the country living in a state that has access to legal marijuana, and more than 60 percent of the country living in a state that has legal access to medical marijuana.

This is in line with what we have seen from public opinion polls, so it really does reflect the direction that the country is moving on these issues.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  John Hudak, tipping point?  Do you think this is just the inevitable roll of this sort of policy going out across the country?

JOHN HUDAK, Brookings Institution:  This was absolutely the biggest day of the marijuana reform hands-down.

In terms of it being a tipping point, it's a bit hard to tell.  I think, in the short term, we're not going to see much movement at the federal level.  What happened in this election was big for marijuana.  But what also happened was the status quo in Congress, the same leadership in Congress, who, frankly, is opposed to reform.

But what this change in the landscape of marijuana policy can do is to start to embolden the industry, to start to get the industry having a stronger voice, a more powerful voice, and a more powerful economic voice to eventually move policy in the right direction toward their interests in reform.

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