Obama’s pro-legalisation announcement is the one medical marijuana retailers, hemp industrialists, and the recreational pioneers have been waiting for throughout the United States.
Almost every day now, we hear someone ranting about “marijuana legalisation”. Don’t get me wrong, I think it will start to spread significantly throughout the western hemisphere in just 5 to 10 years, and I think this is a good thing (not to brag by the way but I’ve been saying both since 2010, before the position was so fashionable, as friends can testify). Though with all the noise surrounding prohibition, the issue of hemp still has far few voices dedicated to it. The magazine I as a trainee will help the Press Association put together this year, on emerging markets, will hopefully play a small part in rectifying this injustice. Obama’s recent announcement that marijuana is a less dangerous drug than alcohol, while blindingly obvious, provides the perfect excuse to write my first feature-friendly news piece on the demystification and dehorrification of cannabis in the political mainstream. .
Obama reminded the New Yorker on the weekend that his experiences with marijuana as a teenager are “well-documented”, but then continued to say something that is sure to rock a political establishment entrenched in nearly a century of the drug war and who still categorises cannabis schedule 1 drug: “Marijuana is not more dangerous than alcohol”.
An industrial hemp act is currently working its way through congress bureaucracy, but that is about the extent of the federal relaxation on cannabis policy in recent times. The legalisation of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington at the last presidential election however has reignited an issue quite fiery even when its ‘dormant’.
Small farmers in Colorado have already begun industrialised hemp production and estimates currently project a state-wide cannabis tax revenue much higher than expected for just the first year, approximately £1 billion for both Colorado and Washington.
Obama’s speech is the first softening of federal or state policy on cannabis by an acting US president since prohibition began, and is likely to turn out to be one of the catalysts behind a seismic social and economic change.