American voters may be sharply polarized over many political issues of the day, but they are increasingly unified on one policy: legalizing marijuana.
Just look at the results of November’s election — every statewide measure to relax marijuana prohibition won. Arizona, Montana and New Jersey voted to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older. Medical marijuana was approved in Mississippi. South Dakota voters backed both recreational and medicinal use.
Now, 15 states — with one-third of the American population — have chosen to legalize adult use of marijuana. Thirty-six states, with nearly 70% of the population, have legalized medical marijuana. From deep red states to deep blue ones, there’s widespread support for ending cannabis prohibition.
Yet marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, like heroin, meaning it has no medicinal value and is highly addictive. That classification is a relic of the war on drugs. And it creates a serious and illogical conflict that makes it harder to properly research, regulate and tax marijuana, even as the cannabis industry grows larger with each new legalization initiative. Clearly the incoming Biden administration and Congress need to modernize federal laws and policies to reflect the reality on the ground.