“The Marijuana Election”: How much cannabis matters in the 2016 Presidential race

(Washington Times)
(Washington Times)

Marquise Brown | Staff Writer

As we get closer to 2016,  the race for the next President of the United States is heating up. With marijuana on the minds of millions across the country this could be the deciding factor in who is next in the White House.

Last week, Senator Bernie Sanders spoke out to end federal prohibition.  With that move, the candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination plunged into uncharted territory and so did the presidential race.

This push could give the Vermont Senator a much- needed boost in some primary states, especially in the West.

“Politicians are terrible at anything new,” said Celinda Lake, a Washington political strategist who has worked on pot initiatives.  “They always miss the trends where the voters are ahead of them.”

Senator Bernie Sanders seems to be taking advantage of this opportunity at the right peak of time that could ultimately earn him the Oval office.

A new Gallup poll found that 58 percent of voters say that marijuana should be legalized, suggesting that there is not a lot of risk in embracing it.

The marijuana vote draws more demographics that are highly coveted by campaign operatives: It’s young, diverse and up for grabs.

“It can easily be turned against them,” said Kevin Sabet, President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an anti- legalization group. The candidates are grappling with legalization at the same time that drug abuse is a prominent issue in the primaries, with a heroin epidemic a key concern  of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to hold contests. “There are too many battleground states where it is still controversial,” said Anna Greenburg, a Democratic pollster.

Sanders framed his words carefully. “Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use, “ he said at George Mason University in Virginia on Wednesday. “That’s wrong. That has got to change.”

According to the Los Angeles Times,  Hillary Rodham Clinton has told small audiences in Oregon and Colorado that marijuana businesses  need relief from the federal restrictions that can make it impossible for them to operate.

“Politicians have been there three steps behind the public on this,”said Rep. Earl Blumenauer Democrat of Oregon, a leading legalization proponent in Congress.

“The train is already leaving the station. There is a huge opportunity. It is going to be on the ballot in swing states.”

Orlando, Florida trial lawyer, John Morgan said “This is the gay marriage issue of the day.” Morgan spent more than $4 million of his own money on the Florida medical pot measure.

As the New Year quickly approaches look for the people to continue to press for legal marijuana laws and the politicians to express their support of these laws to keep the people happy.

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