When Canada began discussing the possibility of ending marijuana prohibition nationwide, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the move would be less about the economic benefits of legalization and more about bringing down organized crime. “Criminal organizations make billions of dollars a year in profits on the sale of marijuana,” Trudeau told the Canadian Press earlier this year. “We need to move forward on a system that controls and regulates while In protecting our kids and our communities.”
But it is going to take some time before the nation’s taxed and regulated tactics start to whittle away at the black market. Cannabis shortages reported in the first week of legal sales are expected to keep cannabis consumers connected to their friendly, neighborhood drug dealers for a while. Cannabis advocates in California, where a recreational market began in January, have confirmed that there are definite growing pains with legal weed.
“The black market is still dominant,” Hezekiah Allen, the executive director of the California Growers Association, told the New York Times.
Nevertheless, there is faith that Canada’s move to treat marijuana as part of ordinary commerce will eventually achieve its objective. So much, that Mexico’s new administration is considering a similar move to combat the drug cartels.
Just last week, Mexico’s president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador sent representatives into the northern nation to discuss the concept of marijuana legalization for recreational use. Since winning the election over the summer, López Obrador has vowed to take a more common sense approach to the country’s brutal drug war. The legalization of drugs has been a large part of the conversation.
So, it was not surprising when incoming foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard told reporters last week that Mexico could “absolutely” follow Canada’s marijuana legalization scheme once the new administration takes over December 1. “We think it is a very interesting option in the short term for Mexico,” he said.
In spite of the progress being made in the north and south, the United States is still lagging when it comes to cannabis reform. Sure, over half the states in the nation have legalized for medical and recreational purposes, but the federal government continues to side with a prohibition standard. Republican rule is mostly to blame. The Party’s domination in Congress has continued to sabotage marijuana at every turn. But there is hope that 2019 will be different. The Democrats are poised to take back control of the U.S. House of Representatives following November’s midterm election. It’s going to be a tight race, according to the latest poll, but if the party claims the win, it could be beneficial for weed.
Because of this possibility, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon recently introduced his “Blueprint” for federal marijuana legalization to Democratic leadership. His goal is to get started once Congress returns from the holiday break in January, fixing issues on cannabis and banking and medical marijuana access for veterans. Once these items are in the right spot, the lawmaker believes the House could be looking at a bill aimed at eliminating marijuana prohibition nationwide by September.
Still, it remains to be seen whether the Democrats will make the issue a priority if they do come out on top after the midterm. But more importantly, there is also the matter of a less than progressive Senate.
Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who controls the upper chamber’s agenda, has made it clear that he has no interest in a bill aimed at legalizing marijuana. “I don’t have any plans to endorse the legalization of marijuana,” he said back in May.
But Representative Blumenauer believes the actions of the House in the next session could persuade McConnell and gang to revise their thinking on the issue.
“Our chances in the Senate depend on both the November elections and increased public pressure following House passage,” he said.
No matter what happens with the Democrats in the upcoming election, former House Speaker John Boehner, who spent his political career opposing cannabis reform on Capitol Hill, recently told investors that “this is the time to go all in on cannabis” because “we won’t be waiting five years to see the federal government legalize cannabis.”
Boehner is now on the board of a cannabis investment firm called Acreage Holdings, and he insists that “some of the most conservative politicians around and their views are evolving on cannabis… just like the American people.”
It’s true, the people are evolving. A new Gallup poll finds that 66 percent of the American population wants to see marijuana taxed and regulated like alcohol and tobacco. But Republican support is still not strong enough to push the movement over the top. Only a slim majority (53 percent) side with legalization.
So, when will marijuana be legalized at the federal level in the United States?
Well, there are too many variables to make an accurate prediction. A recent study finds that it is most likely to happen by the end of 2022. It could be sooner if Democrats lead the issue in 2019, but it will most likely experience further delays if Republicans maintain control.
There is also the presidential factor to consider. But according to Boehner, Trump is onboard with legal weed. “After I came out in favor of cannabis, President Trump said, ‘I agree with Boehner. I think he’s right.’”
We shall see.
Mike Adams is a contributing writer for Forbes, Cannabis Now and BroBible.