The War On Ballot Initiatives Has Marijuana In The Crosshairs (Op-Ed)

MJ moment

Cannabis reform opponents are seeking to block measures from appearing on the ballot and trying to overturn them after they pass. By Matthew Schweich, Marijuana Policy Project There is often a clear and direct contradiction between the will of the people and the laws of the people. For over one hundred years, Americans have used the ballot initiative process to correct these situations by directly enacting policies that politicians have rejected or ignored. Cannabis legalization has been a notable example over the past decade. Between 2012 and 2020, voters in thirteen states approved ballot initiatives to legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over. Five more states have legalized through legislative action. And yet, based on public opinion, the number of legalization states should be much higher and cannabis should have been legalized at the federal level years ago. But due to the unique history of the war on cannabis, politicians have lacked the courage to address this issue even when their constituents demand action. The ballot initiative process, which exists in 24 states, was the key to making major progress on cannabis legalization in the United States. Many other issues have also managed to overcome establishment opposition through hard-fought ballot initiative campaigns. In recent years, voters in states across the political spectrum have approved initiatives for Medicaid expansion, paid medical and family leave, restoring voting rights of former felons, and increasing the minimum wage. A ballot initiative is a pure expression of the will of the people. Described simply, it requires a group of dedicated and hard-working citizens to do three things: write a law, collect a large number of signatures from registered voters in order to qualify for the ballot and then earn the approval of a majority of voters at the next election. Unfortunately, the war on drugs…

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