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Midterm Elections Show Marijuana Is a Bipartisan Issue

A flyer stuck to a telephone pole urges voters to legalize marijuana, which is proving to be a bipartisan issue.

Joint Opinions

Midterm Elections Show Marijuana Is a Bipartisan Issue

On Tuesday, as the GOP gained a majority control of both the U.S. House and Senate, voters in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C. legalized the recreational use of marijuana, the territory of Guam legalized medical marijuana and the hard-fought battle for medical cannabis in Florida was narrowly lost with 58.5 percent of voters approving Measure 2 and 43 percent opposed. Unfortunately, Measure 2 needed a two-thirds majority (60 percent) vote to pass.

Similar anti-Drug War and pro-cannabis measures and candidates passed in almost every other local election, including the passage of California’s Proposition 47, which deals considerable blows to both the Drug War and prison system in the state.

The last time a marijuana legalization initiative was on a midterm election ballot was 2010 in California. Proposition 19 would have legalized recreational cannabis in the state, but found considerable opposition from within the well-ingrained medical marijuana industry due to specifics of the bill. Many analysts also noted that a presidential election year would have been a wiser time to put up such a ballot measure because younger more pot-friendly voters rarely turn out for midterm or primary elections. Clearly, in 2014, this is no longer the case.

According to Pew Research, about 37 percent of registered voters usually turn out for midterm elections, with 54 percent turning out to vote in a presidential election. The important thing to note is that of the 37 percent of registered voters who vote during a midterm election, many are older and white — a demographic that tends to vote conservative.

And yet, with cannabis being seen as a “liberal” cause, the results paint a different picture. On Tuesday, the Republicans took seven U.S. Senate seats and 14 House seats from the Democrats, giving them full control over Congress for the next two years. The exact same voters legalized marijuana or approved it as a majority, even in Florida where it lost. Cannabis has clearly become the one true bipartisan issue in a nation seriously divided.

Take for example, the state of Alaska. Tuesday’s elections yielded a win for Republican incumbent Don Young who beat Democrat Forrest Dunbar 51-40. In Alaska’s senate race, Republican Dan Sullivan beat Democratic incumbent Mark Begich 49-40. At the same time, Alaskan voters approved recreational marijuana by 52-48, a larger majority than for either winning Republican candidate. In a state where Republicans won big, marijuana won bigger. Conservative Republican voters clearly wanted this just as much as liberal Democrats.

Democrats largely ignored the issue going into the midterms, many were still afraid of the implications of “coming out” as pro-cannabis. Hopefully this week, in the reflective sobriety of lost elections they will recognize that their failure to embrace the issue of legal medical and recreational cannabis may have been what done them in. Republicans, Democrat, Libertarian and Independent voters have sent a unified message — it’s time for legal marijuana.

With reports coming out Colorado, where legal recreational sales began in January, early predictions indicate that the state may profit $30 million or more just in legal marijuana tax revenue this year. It is clear the financial incentive towards legalization has swayed a lot of voters.

Earlier this year, President Obama indicated he had no intention of making a federal move on cannabis because he believes it is a states’ rights issue. He has also laughed at the question repeatedly in public forums. Obama also became a pretty big punching bag for both parties’ candidates in campaign rhetoric this year. Obama missed the mark on marijuana — perhaps recreational marijuana appears to be a states’ rights issue to those unfamiliar with (or willfully ignorant about) the true implications of the Drug War, but both medical and recreational marijuana legalization is absolutely a human rights issue and shouldn’t be dealt with state-by-state by voters and the corporate donors who influence them.

Marijuana is absolutely a medicine and science proves it. All humans come equipped with an endocannabinoid system, a network of receptors found throughout the body that regulate functions such as pain, sleep, digestion, appetite, inflammation and mood. These receptors bind with endogenous cannabinoids produced in the human body to regulate these processes. One of these endogenous cannabinoids, anandamide, is what is responsible for the high felt after rigorous exercise, more commonly know as “the runner’s high.” Anandamide happens to be strikingly similar in structure to the phyto (or plant) cannabinoid THC and binds to the same receptors performing the same functions. Other cannabinoids are being studied with these receptors and are producing similar results — plant-sourced cannabinoids work the same as the ones humans already produce to regulate so many essential human functions.

Patients who use cannabis already know this — whole plant marijuana is an extremely effective medicine to treat conditions for which the endocannabinoid system regulates. Why then has medical marijuana been relegated to the realm of political? In Florida, patients will now continue to suffer and risk their freedom to obtain black market cannabis because 43 percent of voters don’t “believe” in marijuana as a medicine.

So, while the dominoes of medical and recreational legalization continue to fall in the United States, a larger message must be sent to legislators — this issue is no longer a joke, the marijuana voting block is real and it is time to treat prohibition like the human rights issue it truly is. It is time for the federal government to reschedule because the bipartisan support is here, it’s real and it’s only going to continue to grow.

Do you agree? Is marijuana a human right? Tell us in the comments below.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. jeff

    December 7, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    It is our human right to use cannabis if we are legal to drink smoke fight or vote.

  2. frederik brooxi

    November 8, 2014 at 4:15 am

    Yes, Marijuana is a human right. In my mind, there is strictly no doubt about that.

  3. Eric C

    November 7, 2014 at 5:29 am

    Our president is absolutely right that marijuana is a states issue, considering that even if he legalized it federally it would still have to become legal in the states through the same process it’s going through. Its just not his business to micromanage state affairs and I wish more people knew this.

  4. Heather

    November 6, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    I agree this is a human right. There is no doubt that there needs to be a change in the federal arena of politics for this to get settled once and for all. But the so called President is too afraid to take any stand that is against his agenda that seems to side with only minorities or other places in the world leaving our country rather sad. I think it is time for the people to make a stand and impeach the nitwit and to stand and say that this is what we want and we want it now. I do hope that the newly elected officials understand this, however in the end I do not think it will make the difference needed due to the people still there in control that are well past the understanding of what the people want. So I say flood the federal and state along with the local governments, with phone calls and when elections come up get the younger people in office that support this and make it a reality and old news and not the main issue that needs dealing with since there is so much that needs to be fixed in this country.

  5. Randall Jones

    November 6, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    If I am to believe that I am truly a free America, I should be able to choose to use Marijuana. In the scope of things, why does it matter as to the manner that I choose to relax? Example; Alcohol, Marijuana, or any other substance for that matter. It’s my body. If I use and then cause a problem for others, then instill some law.

  6. Darrell Brown

    November 6, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    It should be legal for any person on earth that chooses I safer way to treat their sicknesses. It works because the morphine does not it never stopped my pain. Marijuana stopped my pain without any side effects like with the morphine. We that are in chronic pain can have a safer way of medicating.

  7. Reece

    November 6, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    It’s absolutely ridiculous that it is taking so long to legalize Marijuana, especially for medicinal purposes. It definitely needs to be legalized and quickly. The benefits far out weigh any opposition.

  8. noble holland

    November 6, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    If it was legal there would be less drunk drivers and less people getting hurt on our highways and that is very important . I would also not be in so much pain all the time .

  9. Bob N

    November 6, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Agree that this should not be left up to the states, but the Federal government is frozen solid. Even with a Republican majority in both houses, that’s not likely to change. Now it’s the Dems turn to say no to everything. Govt is too firmly in the hands of Wall St, Big Pharma, and the War Dept (I think the old name is more descriptive)to do anything. So it will have to happen state by state. Once CA goes, the rest will follow quickly, a lot faster than MMJ has happened. MMJ opened the door, and now RMJ can take off.

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