Editorial: Legal marijuana sweeping nation – Gainesville Sun
While Florida voters needed two tries to pass medical marijuana, much of the country is moving to legalize recreational pot.
Voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada all passed ballot initiatives last week legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. They join a group of mostly western states that had previously done so. More than 63 million Americans now live in places where marijuana’s use is fully legalized.
A state constitutional amendment to allow medical marijuana in Florida narrowly missed the 60 percent needed for passage in 2014. It was approved convincingly this election with more than 71 percent of the vote. Three other states also passed medical marijuana on Nov. 8, meaning medical marijuana has now been legalized in 28 states and the District of Columbia.
When more than half the states have legalized medical marijuana, the country has passed a tipping point on the issue. The latest Gallup poll found support for full marijuana legalization has reached an all-time high of 60 percent, yet the federal government still lags behind public opinion.
The Food and Drug Administration classifies marijuana among Schedule 1 substances such as heroin and LSD, which have been determined to have a high potential for abuse and no medical use. The listing is an insult to patients who have found marijuana to be an effective treatment for chronic pain, nausea and other conditions that stem from debilitating diseases — and one without the dangers of addictive painkillers.
Some expected a change under President Barack Obama, who said he smoked pot as a teenager. Yet the Drug Enforcement Agency rejected a petition for reclassification in August, maintaining the same failed status quo that has been in place since President Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs.
The Obama administration has at least looked the other way as