America’s next president will face an unprecedented array of challenges, chief among them an economy in ruins and an ugly social divide.
Having served in government for nearly three decades, including as Senate majority leader, I know that there’s no silver bullet that can magically solve all of these problems.
However, I’ve also learned that progress comes from unexpected places and that states often see the future before the federal government.
Legalizing cannabis — as 40 states have already done for either medical or recreational purposes— can’t cure all that ails America. Still, for the next president, it can help drive progress on multiple critical issues.
First, legal cannabis will help create new businesses and new jobs and generate additional tax revenues. It’s already a $16 billion-dollar market where it is legal, with the total market worth an estimated $75 billion. We’re well on the path to de facto legalization on a state level; in fact, many states deemed access to cannabis to be an essential service at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The next president can take us the rest of the way.
Second, criminalizing cannabis has created more social ills than it has cured. Without access to mainstream banking, the thriving illicit cannabis market is more susceptible to organized crime and poses a serious threat to public safety. America ended Prohibition because it simply didn’t work, and it is clear that the current criminalization of cannabis at the federal level doesn’t work either. [Continue reading…]