Couple big things happened yesterday. First, Barack Obama got re-elected as President of the United States. Second, it was a historic day for marijuana policy reform as two states legalized marijuana for recreational use, ending the grip marijuana prohibition has had on this country since 1937. Here are my thoughts on both:
Obama’s reelection is an interesting one to me for a few reasons. For one thing, ObamaCare isn’t going anywhere, which means in the next 4 years all provisions of the law will go into effect with no threat of repeal. It’s going to be virtually impossible for a future Congress or President to undo the law, something Mitt Romney campaigned on doing.
Obama also ran on raising taxes on wealthy Americans, something no Presidential candidate has been able to do before. It’ll be interesting to see if Obama and the new Congress will be able to return tax rates to what they were under President Clinton.
As for marijuana, it’s really hard to know exactly what’s going to happen next. Colorado and Washington both passed initiatives/amendments that will make marijuana a regulated product, similarly to alcohol and tobacco in many ways. This means generating millions of dollars in new revenue for both states, as well as millions in savings from law enforcement and judicial costs. How will these states go about setting up everything? I don’t really know. Expect me to keep following the regulatory systems as they’re created in both states, and posting on here about it.
On another note, legalizing marijuana also puts Colorado and Washington in direct conflict with the federal government, but frankly, who cares? Under President Obama, we’ve seen hundreds of raids on dispensaries in compliance with state law, despite campaign promises in 2008 to the contrary. The IRS has also recently come down harshly on dispensaries, causing many to shutter their doors due to rule changes. Despite all this pressure, Massachusetts voters passed their medical marijuana initiative (did I forget to mention that), meaning we now have 18 states with legal medical marijuana. Federal pressure can’t stop marijuana reform.
If Obama’s smart, he won’t interfere with how Colorado and Washington plan to implement these laws; he’ll let these states act as the policy laboratories they’re supposed to be. I frankly don’t believe he’ll be smart though. Remember he wasn’t also tough on medical marijuana, as he started his first term by relaxing enforcement of federal marijuana laws on state-compliant dispensaries, but then changed his tune mid term. What I do know, is that no matter what President Obama, the Justice Department, and the IRS do, legal marijuana is here to stay. This’ll be fun to watch.
That’s all I’ve got for right now. I’ll keep posting more thoughts as they come to me.