The legalization of cannabis in Colorado was the start of something special.  It began the movement in the United States to push harder than ever for a freedom we had not enjoyed since the early 1900s.  Voters from all generations came together to decide, yes, we do want access to this amazing plant and all of the good it can bring to our lives.  It’s been an interesting journey since legalization, but I believe that we can safely say that the good has outweighed the bad.  People across the country are gaining access to cannabis and its incredible healing power, but there are still many places in this country where the prohibition of cannabis still remains the law of the land.  This November, more states will have the opportunity to change history and vote to legalize cannabis in some form.  It is important for us to mobilize and come together to make our voices heard in support for this incredible plant.

An unforeseen consequence of legalization in Colorado was the appearance of a group of people we refer to in the industry as cannabis refugees.  Think of these people as refugees from the U.S Government’s war on drugs.  These people packed up their families and relocated their lives to Colorado, a place where they or their loved ones could get access to the medicine that they need without the fear of criminal prosecution.  Their stories are commonplace here in our industry in Colorado but, for all of the people that moved here, there are many more still without access to cannabis.  Simply put, this needs to change.  In 2018 we have seen more states move forward with medical programs or plans for recreational markets.  We have seen the DEA declassify a cannabis-derived medication from Schedule 1 to Schedule 5.  The political climate surrounding cannabis is ripe for change.  It’s on all of us to make this happen.

States are the laboratories of democracy and as we have seen over the course of many major American political issues, change starts locally.  This November get out and be politically active in your state’s elections.  This election season Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, and Colorado all have cannabis related initiatives on the ballot.  If there aren’t any cannabis related initiatives in your state, do a little research into the candidates who are cannabis friendly.  There are so many ways to help and support the movement this November, and all you have to do is vote!

Political action is already being taken in our states as well as our nation’s capital.  The bipartisan legislation, penned by Cory Gardner (CO–R) and Elizabeth Warren (MA-D) entitled “The States Act” has been introduced to Congress that seeks to recognize legal cannabis on a federal level and bar further federal government intervention into states that have legal programs.  The passing of this bill would change the political climate around cannabis immensely by creating an environment that would help support this fledgling industry.

Locally, we are seeing many pro-cannabis candidates coming forward for this year’s elections.  Jared Polis, the Democratic nominee for the governor’s seat is an outspoken supporter of the industry and has pledged to continue to support the industry here in Colorado.  NORML endorsed Jared Polis during his tenure in Congress after his key role in the formation of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, a bipartisan group aimed at harmonizing the laws of the Federal Government and laws from states that have passed medical or recreational cannabis laws.  Congressman Polis is not the only candidate to show support for the industry.  Phil Weiser, the Democratic nominee for the Attorney General seat has also come out in support for the industry here in Colorado.  He has stated that he wants to continue to protect our industry from government overreach from the federal government while also working to help reduce the number of people caught in the criminal justice system in Colorado due to cannabis-related offenses.  Both these candidates are great choices for pro-cannabis candidates here in Colorado and hopefully, if elected they will start to address some of the industry pain points like public consumption.

Overall, the elections happening next month have the potential to be another large milestone for cannabis legalization in the United States.  The movement has incredible momentum and we are seeing political advocacy surrounding cannabis as we have never seen before.  It’s an exciting time for cannabis in the United States and a crucially important time to be politically active.  So get out and make your voice heard this November and show some support for our favorite plant!  The road to legalization is a long one, and we need everyone to do their part to make it a reality.

Clayton Skulski #theSpecialist

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