In the written Chinese language the character for “crisis” and “opportunity” are the same. If we take that lesson to heart, is there opportunity in the just-around-the-corner Trump administration?
Even if the federal outlook is relatively grim, reform advocates could continue to see progress at the state level, especially in Democratic enclaves like New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Colorado, California and Washington, D.C., Nadelmann [founder of the Drug Policy Alliance] says. “Sentencing reform, bail reform, parole reform, decriminalization of marijuana, to some extent civil asset forfeiture reform, how you allocate funding between treatment and prevention versus law enforcement, some big chuck of harm reduction funding, from needle exchange to overdose prevention: a lot of that stuff can continue to move forward and will continue to move forward.”
What will get really dicey is when state and federal policy are at odds with one another. “That’s really where the federal government can mess up things at the state level. And I think that especially plays out on the issue of the legal regulation of medical marijuana,” Nadelmann says. “And that’s going to be a very complicated issue.”
All that said, Nadelmann thinks the legal marijuana industry is a genie that can’t be completely forced back into the bottle. “The fact that this [industry] is already producing tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of legal tax-paying jobs, the fact that it’s now a legal industry worth many billions of dollars, the fact that it’s already bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue for state governments – all of those are rational reasons for why a Trump administration should have a fairly hands-off approach. But that assumes that they’re willing to let rational considerations trump the old Drug War rhetoric.”
One glimmer of hope for legalization advocates comes straight from Trump’s inner circle: Some hope Peter Thiel, Trump’s outspoken ally in Silicon Valley, could influence the incoming president’s thinking in a positive way. Thiel’s Founders Fund has invested millions in Privateer, one of the biggest players in the legal marijuana market. And, according to Nadelmann, Thiel isn’t the only one who has both Trump’s ear and an interest in protecting the legal marijuana market.
“When I look around the country and see the number of people investing in the marijuana industry who have high-level Republican connections … it means that even though marijuana reform has been disproportionately advanced and pushed by Democrats, and even though Democrats are much more likely to vote in favor than Republicans, the fact of the matter is that you have a significant and growing minority of Republicans who are supportive of marijuana legalization,” Nadelman says. “And also quite a growing number of individuals who are invested in the industry.”
This excerpt is from a longer article which is worth your time to read. Find it HERE. We must turn what may be a crisis into an opportunity. Are you ready to get to work?
[image: NBC News]
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