It was a great year for marijuana; according to one article, polls now indicate that at
least 58% of Americans approve the legalization of cannabis.
However, legalization efforts remain stymied by cumbersome federal laws in the
banking industry and scrutiny from conservatives who can’t shake the “evil weed”
propaganda, in addition to the plant’s classification as a Schedule 1 controlled
substance which equates it’s destructive power over the human brain on par with
cocaine and heroin with no known medical benefit, thus inhibiting federally funded
studies which would provide much-needed research into both the benefits and risks of
Important highlights from the past year:
By the end of 2016, the United States will have a new president. Become an
informed voter and check out some candidates’ stance on legalization first published
●Bernie Sanders introduced a bill in the Senate that would end all federal
penalties for possession and growing of marijuana, solidifying his position as the
most pro-legalization candidate.
●Chris Christie says if he were president he’d start enforcing federal law, thereby
reversing any state-level legalization.
●Hillary Clinton called for a rescheduling of the drug, taking it out of a category
including heroin and other substances considered to have no medical benefits.
She is a proponent of letting the states that have legalized recreational marijuana
serve as testing grounds before considering broader legalization.
●Jeb Bush maintains that it’s a state issue but that he would have voted no if he
had been in Colorado at the time of the election.
●Donald Trump agrees with Bush that marijuana decisions should be left to
individual states, and he is a proponent of the drug for medical uses.
In addition, Ohio voted against legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana
in 2015, but the main opposition appears to be the language in the bill that effectively
allowed only a small number of individual growers to operate in the state, which would
have handed a significant advantage to those lucky/rich enough to get in on the ground
floor of the legislation.
Researchers studying marijuana made progress this year while raising questions and
highlighting a clear need for more soundly designed scientific studies in order to clearly
know the facts about both benefits and risks of regular cannabis consumption.
For instance, studies on the short- and long-term effects of marijuana offer conflicting
Brain development in teens appears to suffer from even small amounts of
marijuana, while medical benefits have been demonstrated in cases of cancer-related
pain, nerve pain or muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis.
While the benefits of medical marijuana look promising, issues with dosage, including amount and frequency,
as well as the most effective delivery method (smoking, eating, etc.), remain in question.
Banking Issues Continue
The problem plaguing the legal marijuana industry continues to be the fact that since
marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, banks face potential charges of
racketeering and money laundering charges, despite state laws.
This forces growers and dispensary operators to rely on cash transactions without the possibility of
depositing their money into a secure financial institution and makes them vulnerable to
2016 – The Year Ahead
Especially in an election year, there’s no clear picture of what will happen regarding
both medical and recreational marijuana. Researchers are still discovering information
about the health and safety of cannabis.
Discrepancy about health benefits continues; some reports clearly state medicinal benefits while others are less clear, but the size and design of the studies must be taken into account. A landmark year has passed and
another one remains to be seen.