The legalization of cannabis in the United States for medicinal and recreational drug use has hit another roadblock in Massachusetts, and studies are indicating that Colorado drivers who use marijuana are getting into more accidents. Due to these issues and enforcement warnings from the federal government, it’s becoming increasingly clear that activists have a long way to go to reach their goal of nationwide legalization of cannabis.
Mexico Made Medicinal Cannabis Legalization a Priority
Despite the conflicting stance between several states and the United States federal government, other nearby nations are moving forward with plans to make cannabis more readily available. For example, Mexico’s government overwhelmingly voted in favor of changing the legality of cannabis for medicinal purposes. Although recreational drug use is still illegal in Mexico, medical marijuana is now available in the nation south of the United States border.
To the north, Canada has allowed medicinal marijuana usage since 2001. More recently, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced a bill that would make marijuana legal throughout Canada for recreational drug use. Other nations that allow legal recreational usage include Uruguay, Portugal, and Jamaica.
Legalization Backslide in Massachusetts
Massachusetts residents voted in November 2016 to legalize cannabis for recreational use. This came four years after medicinal marijuana was approved by voters. Now, Massachusetts lawmakers are trying to alter the bill that voters supported, which has led to protests.
Although the Massachusetts House didn’t attempt to change the overall legality of cannabis within state borders, they did pass a revision that will make it much more expensive for people to legally acquire the formerly controlled substance. Voters approved legal regulation and taxation of marijuana at a rate of 12 percent.
If the revision passed by the House is approved by the Senate, this tax will dramatically increase to 28 percent. This is seen as a backslide by protestors because it may make legal marijuana too expensive for proponents of recreational drug use, which could help fuel the state’s illegal drug trade. Additionally, making cannabis extremely expensive is another way to control it and keep it out of the hands of many residents. It’s not hard to wonder if a push to recriminalize marijuana in Massachusetts will come next.
Legality of Cannabis Linked to Increase in Car Crashes
A recent study that could make it even more difficult for marijuana activists to gain federal support found that the legalization of recreational marijuana is linked to an increase in automobile accidents. Between Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, an overall increase of 3 percent was noted. Individually, though, some states fared much worse. For example, Colorado is now experiencing 14 percent more car crashes than its bordering states.
This research paints an interesting picture, but not everyone is convinced. A Colorado state trooper told CBS Denver that the data to support the claim linking higher accident rates with legalized marijuana isn’t conclusive.
“When it comes down to it, it’s one more thing that we’re looking at. But marijuana is not new.”
In other words, people didn’t let the legality of cannabis stop them from using it and driving before, so it’s possible that legalization is not the culprit in the state’s rise in traffic incidents.
United States Federal Intervention Could Cause Major Legalization Issues
The Obama Administration did not challenge individual states as they passed laws legalizing medicinal marijuana and recreational drug usage. However, it’s still against federal law to grow, purchase or use cannabis, and it’s important to remember that federal law does supersede state law.
In other words, the federal government can go into a state with legalized marijuana and arrest users and growers. Back in February, the Trump Administration issued a warning that they may soon be targeting states that allow people to use marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes.
Legality of Cannabis: Experts Weigh In
Overdosing on opioids has become the number one cause of death for people under the age of 50. States with legal marijuana have seen opioid-related deaths decline by up to 27 percent. Due to this, many experts suggest legalizing cannabis to help get the opioid epidemic under control.
The United States healthcare industry brings in more than $3.8 trillion per year, though, which is often seen as one of the biggest roadblocks for the legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana.
[Featured image by Elaine Thompson/AP Images]