The Great Cannabis Divide – Alaskajournal.com
More Americans than ever have legal access to marijuana, but the cherry glow highlights a gap between the way voters think and what federal lawmakers say and do, according to policy reformers.
Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization of the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, said cannabis legislation confirms one of the sore spots that drove the 2016 federal election cycle — the sense of a growing schism between voters and their federal representatives.
Armentano is happy with the statewide results, but only to a point.
“They key point is that when you get through with the lovey-dovey, feel good responses, it’s also indicative of a breakdown of the democratic process,” he said.
Along with Donald Trump’s prediction-defying win in his presidential bid over Hilary Clinton, Nov. 8 wove more changes into the U.S. political fabric when eight of nine states legalized either recreational or medicinal cannabis.
Voters who hot-boxed the voting booths with support dramatically changed the national cross-section. One-fifth of the country’s population now doesn’t need a prescription to buy marijuana. Americans in three in five states — 29 overall — can access medical marijuana. By 2020, the National Cannabis Industry Association projects a national marijuana market of $22 billion.
The voter turnout reflects a growing national trend.
In the eight states, ballot measures passed with an average 58 percent of voters in favor, confirming Pew and Gallup polls that say six of 10 Americans support marijuana legalization or letting states decide the issue.
Because of these numbers, however, the largest marijuana policy reform group in the nation is uneasy with what the state-by-state movement says about U.S. democracy in 2016.
Pundits and media think pieces said the 2016 presidential race was the boil over of years of belief among the electorate that Washington