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2016 Presidential Election Could Settle Pot’s Fate

Medical Marijuana
Medical Marijuana (David McNew, Getty Images)

There’s an interesting opinion piece on Politico.com about marijuana. Now, I don’t smoke pot, but I don’t particularly care if you want to light one up after work. It doesn’t seem likely that New Jersey will follow Colorado or Washington in making small amounts of pot legal to own and consume, but we do now have medical marijuana.

But as the Politico piece points out, federal law trumps state law and the federal law says marijuana is a Schedule I drug and is illegal to possess even in small amounts. The reason no one in Washington or Colorado is going to jail is because the Obama administration has decided not to enforce the federal prohibition (much like they’re not enforcing deportation orders against illegal immigrants).

It hadn’t occurred to me how crucial this “hands off” policy is to those states and other who are hoping to at least decriminalize it. That’s why the 2016 presidential election is so crucial to the pro-marijuana forces; if a republican wins, he may elect to start prosecuting people. Reid Cherlin wrote the article for Poitico and he quotes a drug policy expert from UCLA: “You could reappoint John Ashcroft as attorney general and people could be going to prison for long terms for things that they’re doing right now.” Governor Christie has never seemed predisposed toward loosening the restrictions, and he very well might be our next president. Would he order the prosecution of thousands of citizens in Washington, Colorado and across the country? We may get a chance to find out.

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