Marijuana Legalization: How crossing state lines can make you a criminal
Every time a new president takes office, there’s always some disruption and that’s to be expected. It just takes time to adjust. Time heals all wounds. What’s the future of medical marijuana legalization now that Donald Trump is in office?
In the short 18 days he’s been in office, Donald Trump made some massive changes. He ordered a ban on immigration from seven primarily muslim countries, he fired acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates for not supporting the ban, and he nominated an even more conservative judge for the open position on the Supreme Court, among many other things (although his obsession with Twitter hasn’t changed at all).
And with this change came another big adjustment. Overnight, President Obama went from leading the nation to being a regular joe (albeit one who has left a big legacy). But before Obama’s time in office came to an end, he granted commutations to 330 prisoners serving time for drug-related crimes, a clear statement that hopefully creates a precedent for the president who took his place.
In terms of ending the war on drugs, we’ve made a lot of progress. There’ve been plans to offer safe consumption spaces, action committed to changing the minimum mandatory sentence for drug-related offenses, and of course, the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana in a majority of the 50 states. In fact, the November 8th elections saw nine more states vote for marijuana legalization (some medical marijuana and some recreational marijuana).
With California now joining the recreational use states, we can only imagine that the needle is moving in the direction of federally legal marijuana. Granted, there are still a lot of restrictions in place at this time—you can’t buy recreational marijuana from a medical marijuana dispensary, you can’t smoke or ingest it in public, you can’t operate motor vehicles after using marijuana, and many more—but with Obama’s last move and the boom in legalization, things are looking up. Now we just need the southern states (we’re looking at you Bible Belt) to follow suit.
Now that isn’t to say the South is completely at a loss (though hope may be low given the fact that California legalized medical marijuana over 20 years ago). In fact, it’s looking like Mississippi might actually join the medical marijuana ranks pretty soon, with a bill recently introduced to give some of the sickest patients the treatment they need (albeit with some pretty big restrictions). With Mississippi, Arkansas, and Florida having some sort of medical program, this could be the push the south side of the country needs in order to catch up with the rest of us. Plus, as far as we’ve seen, the new administration is likely to leave laws regarding medical and recreational marijuana up to each individual state. And with public opinion shifting more and more towards favoring legalization, who knows how quickly our liberties will progress. We have the research, we have the proof, and we have the possibility to create a booming nationwide industry that greatly benefits its citizens.
But in case you’re having trouble keeping track of what exactly is legal and where, check out this map . Hover over each state to find out what the deal is, and realize even more explicitly how the second you cross an invisible line, you can go from enjoying a nice bowl with your friends after a long day at work to spending time in jail for simply being in possession of marijuana.
We may have come a long way, but we still have a lot of work to do.