Marijuana criminalization didn't start due to fear that weed caused health problems, increased crime, or was a gateway drug. It started because Mexican immigrants brought marijuana with them when they came to America, and making marijuana illegal was a convenient excuse to search and deport Mexican immigrants.
It's evolved into a much more complicated -still involving many racial and socioeconomic issues-but people are beginning to question whether we really have reasonable cause to deem marijuana illegal.
So what's the future for ganja in America? That'll probably depend in part on who our next president is, so here are the stances of current candidates on the issue:
Donald Trump: He seems a little confused about his marijuana stance, but so far, he has said, "I think it's bad and I feel strongly about it," but he wants it to be a state issue. As for medical marijuana, he's behind that, saying, "Medical marijuana is another thing," and 84 percent of Americans agee.
Ted Cruz: His stance is basically the same as Trump's. He's against it, but believes states have the right to decide.
He admits to having smoked marijuana, though, which makes me question whether he thinks he deserves jail time or fines, or just the other people who smoke.
He also (jokingly) offered the GOP debate moderator pot brownies, to which the moderator did not seem opposed.
John Kasich: He wants to lead the next War on Drugs (because we know that worked the first time). He says, "In my state and across this country, if I happened to be president, I would lead a significant campaign down at the grassroots level to stomp these drugs out of our country."
He's even tougher than Trump and Cruz, opposing medical marijuana because there are other ways to treat pain. Has he smoked pot before? Yeah. But that's different.
Hillary Clinton: She supports medical marijuana, opposes imprisonment of marijuana users, and supports state rights to choose their drug policies. She would also reclassify marijuana as a level II drug rather than a level I, making it much easier for researchers to get approval to study it.
And let's be honest-cannabis is not as dangerous as heroin. Even the Drug Enforcement Administration Chief agrees. So why is she still uncertain about her stance on marijuana? She wants the facts. She's waiting to see what happens in the states that have legalized recreational marijuana and she wants to see more research on medical marijuana.
Bernie Sanders: He's taking it a step further than Hillary. He'd remove marijuana from the list of scheduled drugs completely. He'd vote for legalizing marijuana. He supports letting states regulate it locally, just like alcohol. And he'd also stop jailing marijuana users.
He says, "We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away, and yet we are imprisoning or giving jail sentences to young people who are smoking marijuana." That's accurate. He doesn't like smoking weed, which he's done twice, but he's nice about it. "It's not my thing, but it is the thing of a whole lot of people."
Voting for the candidate you agree with on drug reform is one way to make sure your voice is heard. Many states are probably going to propose cannabis legalization/regulation/decriminalization laws on the ballot too, so that's yet another way you can take action.
Over and over, we're being told that candidates' drug policies are not a good reason to vote for them, but I'd disagree. It's certainly not the only issue, but it is an important one.