“Amerikan Hypocrisy” by SAINT_ISACARIOT
THE ATLANTIC: After years in the political wilderness, marijuana lobbyists find themselves in a strange position as 2014 approaches: Suddenly their power and support are growing, lawmakers are courting them, and the prospects look brighter to build on major progress the movement made in 2012. Last year, voters in Colorado and Washington legalized recreational use of marijuana, the first states to do so. Those victories have bestowed new legitimacy on the cannabis community, giving it a better field on which to fight. By engaging in political-money games, endorsing candidates, confederating cannabis-related businesses, and old-fashioned lobbying, the pot movement is working to expand the playing field to more states and confront the federal government’s long-standing and entrenched opposition to marijuana infrastructure head on.[…]
Cannabis advocates view 2014 as an important year. Colorado and Washington’s adult-use laws take effect January 1, and it’s the first year that those states can generate tax revenue from the legalized drug. Research by the ArcView Group, an advisory firm that connects cannabis-industry entrepreneurs, found that legalized marijuana is one of the fastest growing markets in the U.S., with profits expected to soar by 64 percent to $2.34 billion next year. Legalization supporters hope that once states and legislatures see how much state income is to be had, more lawmakers will be swayed to follow suit. And with 2014 bringing midterm elections, marijuana lobbyists are hoping that more state ballot initiatives for legalization—like the one poised for Alaska—will pass.
Unlike the marriage-equality movement, which struggled to scope and focus its efforts in its early days, experts say the marijuana lobby is learning more quickly from its mistakes and successes. Brookings’ Hudak said the movement is “becoming a lot politically savvier” and learning to choose battles in states where it has a better chance of winning. But cannabis groups remain splintered, and have arguably failed to harvest the leverage they could gain by working more together more closely. In some states, there are campaigns pushing legalization through both legislation and referenda—perhaps an unnecessary overlap of resources. Currently campaigners are pushing bills to legalize in state legislatures in Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. In Oregon, there is both a legislative push and an attempt to put legalization on the ballot—despite a similar bill failing by nearly 7 points in 2012. MORE