political | 11.07.2018

Vote Green: Cannabis Emerges as the Big Winner of the 2018 Midterms

Adrian Daniel Schramm

Staff

It was a big night for cannabis culture in the United States: Michigan voted to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, finally bringing legal weed to the Midwest. Conservative strongholds Utah and Missouri legalized marijuana for medical use, and while a recreational measure in North Dakota unfortunately didn't make it to the finish line (failed) medical cannabis remains legal there as well. 

The aforementioned states can add their names to the 31 others that have already gone the medical route - and nine with recreational.

A big win for cannabis, on both a local and a national level

That’s a big win for cannabis advocates, and citizens in general, of these states. But it doesn't end there: The continued success of cannabis legislation means that these changes will have ramifications on the national level as well. The more states to legalize cannabis, the better the chances are that the federal government will follow suit.

And, as cannabis is much safer than alcohol and comes with a range of proven medical benefits, and still more that researchers are exploring, that's a big win for everyone.

To take it further still, we could say that these election results will do much more than help end the illegality of cannabis in the United States. Painting with such broad strokes misses the nuances of what is already in place, and often struggling: This sort of positive puff momentum can, and hopefully will, help the states that have already legalized marijuana, but haven't been able to properly deliver due to archaic government regulations, and the backward policies of those in power.

(Cough, cough. Jeff Sessions. Cough.)

For example, the Senate Appropriations Committee recently blocked and buried an amendment that allowed banks to work directly with (a rapidly growing number of) cannabis companies. As any good American capitalist knows, not being able to work with a bank makes it pretty hard to do business in the first place, let alone grow and prosper.

Another important issue that might finally be addressed following the midterms is veterans affairs. Many states where marijuana is legal are also blocked from helping veterans gain easier access to cannabis. Just this past September, Congress removed a separate amendment that would allow physicians affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend medical marijuana as treatment - something that has been shown to help with PTSD and physical ailments alike. Again: This was for states where marijuana is already legal.

Laying the groundwork

But the idea is that, with a growing number of, and now the vast majority of states having legalized cannabis in some form or another, it's time to pass the joint to their representatives in D.C.

And, slowly but surely, that's happening: In a crucial vote, for example, Pete Sessions (R, Texas), chairman of the House Rules Committee and a staunch anti-cannabis legislator (he's been blocking votes on cannabis amendments left and right), just lost his seat to challenger Colin Allred

Allred. a Democrat, gets points as an ally who recently called out former Attorney General Jeff Sessions out on the veterans amendment we mentioned above.

But, as has always been the case, this high level of cannabis momentum through the midterms didn't start with the politicians: It started with the people who voted them into power. If politicians don't follow the will of the people, well, in theory at least, the people vote them out.

Or, at the very least, vote for the legislation that bypasses antiquated notions about marijuana use.

If legal cannabis does get passed on a federal level, however, it will be much easier for the states that already have the infrastructure in place to manage production in sales - i.e. the states that have lagged behind won't be able to compete, or even get in the game, until long after the states that jumped onboard early.

The biggest piece of good news comes from the fact that, with Democrats retaking the House, and Jeff Sessions resigned from his position as Attorney General, we have a fresh set of politicians to help push legislation through, or at least desist in blocking the legislation that's already in place. 

Many of those elected, be it on a state or national level, have pledged support for cannabis legalization - what they actually do once in power, of course, remains to be seen.

For now, we can celebrate achievements in Utah, Missouri, and Michigan - and remain hopeful that this fresh batch of politicians will live up to their word.

Read this next: Where Does Your Governor Stand on Cannabis?