What’s Next For Marijuana Reform?

2012 marked what some have categorized as a turning point in the fight against marijuana prohibition. Both Colorado and Washington voted to legalize the drug, medicinal marijuana initiatives passed in even more locations and the federal courts considered arguments in reclassifying marijuana to a Schedule II narcotic which would lift many of the current research and development prohibitions on the drug. With so many victories in what feels to be a short time, what is next for the reform movement?

According to Reuters, reform advocates are looking at possible ballot measures in 2014 or 2016 in places like Oregon and California, states that were among the first in the country to provide for medicinal marijuana use. Both states recently rejected broader legalization efforts, but as momentum shifts in the direction of marijuana reform, supporters think it’s time for a second try.  “Legalization is more or less repeating the history of medical marijuana,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “If you want to know which states are most likely to legalize marijuana, then look at the states that were the first to legalize medical marijuana.”

California in particular is a state to watch in this area. California voters have twice rejected legalization efforts, first in 1972 and most recently in 2010 when voters rejected a ballot measure in the midterm elections. California’s 2010 ballot measure failed to sway voters because it would have left regulation to a hodgepodge of local governments, instead of a uniform set of state rules, Dale Gieringer, director of the California branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, told Reuters.

This month, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom became one of America’s top state officials to call for the reform of marijuana laws when he told the New York Times that laws against the drug “just don’t make sense anymore.”

Not surprisingly though, law enforcement remains mostly unified in opposition to the reform movement. “I have yet to hear a legalization proponent talk about how society will be enhanced, how the real social problems facing our country will be improved by legalizing yet another substance that compromises people’s five senses,” said John Lovell, government relations manager for the California Police Chiefs Association.

Marijuana reform can, and should, be viewed as much in terms of social policy as well as public health policy. And from that vantage point the reformers have an edge. Much like gay marriage, marijuana reform finds wide support among the younger generation of voters and that tolerance, built into an appreciation of the failed war on drugs and its tragic socio-economic consequences suggests marijuana legalization is a coming reality that law enforcement must just deal with. And with proponents eying legalization in California in as soon as next year, it’s a reality that will be here sooner rather than later.


Related Reading:

Medical Marijuana Up For Debate In Federal Court

UN Drug Official ‘Voices Concern’ Over State Marjiuana Laws

If You Want To Fight Cancer, Turn Those Pink Ribbons Green


Photo from Editor B via flickr.


William C
William C1 months ago


W. C
W. C2 months ago

Thank you.

Jessica C
Jessica C2 months ago


Sherry Kohn
Sherry K2 years ago


Christine Jones
Christine J5 years ago

It would be good to see marijuana taken out of the hands of criminals.

Susan Allen
SusanAWAY Allen5 years ago

Sarah H. writes, "This is not good for our great country!" You're right Sarah. It's not good, it's GREAT! Marijuana should be fully legal. I think MJ M. hit the nail on the head though Sarah, didn't he? Conservative evangelical religious nuts are what and who are destroying our country, not marijuana.

Charli S.
Charlotte S5 years ago

It's about time the government starting treating people as adults. I believe you should be able to live you life any way you want to as long as you don't infringe on the rights of others! Other then warning labels I don't think we need to "protect" people from most things in which they choose the use of.

Past Member 5 years ago

Sarah H, Conservative Christian?? These are the two mentalities DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY!!! Don't expect any coherency from Sarah H. Her mindset blinds her to any kind of reality.

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

What isn't good for our country, Sarah? .............marijuana REFORM or continued ignorant prohibition?

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill5 years ago

This is not good for our great country!