Marijuana Legalization Process in the U.S. News Review:
Although the marijuana reform process in the U.S. is moving forward, it is doing so in very slow fashion. Medical marijuana reform initiated over 15 years ago and since that time, 23 states have legalized medicinal marijuana in some form. Only four states have legalized marijuana for recreational use as of 2015. More states are expected to consider marijuana reform on the 2016 ballot, but as we saw in Ohio recently, ballot placement does not guarantee legalization in the state. Additionally, even though a state can pass marijuana reform law, the state law continues to directly conflict with federal law in the U.S. and this can turn out to be very problematic for various reasons. It is hard to do legal business in a state when certain institutions, such as the banking industry, fear federal prosecution for doing business with a state approved marijuana business. Does the U.S. want the marijuana industry to suffer? What is the reason the federal government continues to list marijuana as a Schedule 1, illegal drug all while individual states make marijuana reform a priority? Why is marijuana still illegal in the eyes of the federal government?
The business of marijuana in the United States:
Despite the hardships that thwart the fledgling marijuana start-ups, the current marijuana industry in the U.S. has built itself into a billion dollar industry. The Huffington Post recently reported that the marijuana industry brought in approximately $2.4 billion in 2014, and the numbers this year are expected to be better. All this is happening while the federal government continues to hold firm on marijuana’s listing and associated federal laws. It turns out that what is good for the marijuana industry, might be bad for other industries. There are some fairly notable industries in the U.S. that place a great deal of financial backing into anti-marijuana lobbying. Could this a major reason why marijuana is still illegal on a federal level?
Big Pharm, the major pharmaceutical companies, could have significant cause for concern if marijuana is made legal across the land. They make billions of dollars selling manufactured drugs to the people for many of the same conditions and diseases that medical marijuana is used to treat. Given that Americans would not need the pharmaceutical companies to grow their own medical marijuana plants at home, the pharmaceutical companies have a significant reason to be alarmed at the idea of legalized marijuana. Medical marijuana could offer a cheaper and potentially safer alternative to their product. This would greatly impact their market share which is why drug manufacturers gave over $20 million during the last election on certain candidates and committees, and is why they spent almost as much in 2013 lobbying. Other industries and groups giving money to lobby against legal marijuana include Alcohol companies, private prison companies, police unions and prison guard unions. Is the real reason that marijuana has not been made legal on a federal level connected to the established groups and companies that fight against it and have much to lose given its legalization?