Decades ago, the U.S. government enforced efforts against alcohol the same way as marijuana with the American Prohibition Act. The bill taught the residents that they would never win the long and futile war against alcohol since people would want to drink in the long run. Consequently, many people argue that marijuana is more benign than alcohol, so the government should regulate and publicize cannabis use like alcohol.
But since prohibition has never worked, regulation is a practical method of protecting children from coming into contact with sellers of any illegal substances. And this was the plea of majority of American residents – for the government to hear their voices and legalize recreational marijuana use in the state.
What is The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act in Arizona?
First of all, what is Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act?
To dramatically change the federal law against cannabis use, Representative Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon congressman, filed a bill last January 9, 2019, which would federally regulate cannabis use in the same way as alcohol. The federal government considers marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. It means that it has no medical use, and it has a high potential for abuse.
As the founder of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, Blumenauer has been an advocate for changing federal marijuana laws. He introduced the H.R. 420, or the Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol Act, in Congress, which aims to remove marijuana from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of controlled substances and let the existing federal agencies take over. While 420, a popular slang for cannabis consumption, is a bit tongue-in-cheek, the issue is a serious matter. According to Blumenauer, the state has an outdated federal law that has negatively impacted several lives over the years.
The campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona
In the state of Arizona, the use and possession of cannabis for recreational purposes is illegal. But with Proposition 200 in 1996, it allowed medical practitioners to prescribe marijuana and other Schedule 1 drugs. Although some legislative officials opposed the initiative, the conflict concluded in 2010 when Arizona voters approved the legalization of medical marijuana entitled Proposition 203. While Barack Obama and the Department of Justice did not prosecute several individuals and businesses who consumed and sold the substance in keeping with the state laws, both recreational and medical marijuana were illegal under federal law in 2016. Thus, many Arizona residents campaigned to consider recreational marijuana use as legal under the state law through the Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative, or commonly known as Proposition 205. Their campaign garnered an approximate of 259,000 signatures and submitted it to the state in July 2016 to make a ballot.
Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act Across the U.S
The objective of the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act is to allow adults ages 21 and above to possess and use up an ounce of dried cannabis to consume in private. But today, only ten states in the United States plus the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use of marijuana for ages 21 and above, while medical marijuana is legal in 33 states.
California has worked its way to legalize medical cannabis with a designation number SB 420 in 2003. While in 2017, one of the senators in the Rhode Island filed a marijuana legalization proposal and named it S 420. Capitol Hill voted to block the Department of Justice from interfering with the state laws of medical cannabis through an amendment under 2003’s Roll Call 420.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, the 52-48 votes, in favor of “No to Cannabis Legalization,” ended the high hopes of cannabis advocates to legalize marijuana. Even the Associated Press voted “NO” later that night, which added salt to the already-bleeding wound of hundreds of thousands of residents. Many election watchers still held on to their hopes that the final votes would serve as the key to victory. However, it did not happen.
Although marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, it is unfortunate that adults continue to face felony charges by possessing cannabis due to the failure of the government to address the majority’s pleas.
Final Thoughts: What Should Have Been
The relative benign nature of cannabis has been one of the central arguments when it comes to legalizing the drug. Some people compared the laws behind marijuana and alcohol and pointed out that the latter can cause social problems throughout several aspects of the American elements. Some issues include the disruption of families and a high number of drunk driving accidents, deaths, and injuries. By legalizing marijuana, many people fear that such problems may occur.
By contrast, federally regulating the recreational use of marijuana can help economic growth and save lives. It can also replace the underground marijuana market with a more regulated system and create thousands of new jobs in the state. But as we look forward to 2020, it will be inevitable to see more and more prosperous state legalization efforts of cannabis use – recreationally and medically.