Marijuana and the 2016 Election


Marijuana has played an important role in the last few general elections and 2016 is shaping up to be possibly the most important election yet for cannabis law reform. We already know that a Nevada legalization proposal will be on the ballot and there is a great likelihood that California, Massachusetts, Maine and possibly a few other states will also have legalization votes of their own. Swing states such as Florida and Ohio will likely have marijuana law reform initiatives on the ballot as well. A total of four states will have cannabis commerce creating jobs and generating revenue within their states borders, not to mention legal, personal marijuana possession and cultivation in our nation’s capital.

John Hudak weighed in with “2016: Will Be the Marijuana Election” in Newsweek,

Marijuana policy will likely play a noticeable role in the general election, too. The issue has implications for states that truly matter in presidential campaigns. Recreational legalization is a reality in swing states like Colorado. Other marijuana measures may appear on ballots in which presidential candidates frequently look for votes (Florida, Maine) or campaign money (California).

In addition, medical marijuana policy—now the law in many places—means that swing state voters will be interested in what their next president will have to say on the topic.

The issue engages a variety of issues that reach beyond marijuana itself, posing serious leadership questions for any prospective chief executive. It involves issues of law and regulatory enforcement, federal research policy, medical and pharmaceutical policy, state-federal relations, criminal justice, privacy, agriculture, commerce, small business policy and banking and financial regulations.

President Obama, while far from perfect on the issue, has advanced marijuana law reform with some sensible, although cautious (or timid you mid prefer) policy choices. The next presidential administration will have to decide whether to continue upon a slow, deliberate approach or change course one way or the other. Prior marijuana usage and prospective policy has already been an issue for the Republican Party and it’s likely that Hilary Clinton (and any primary challenger that may appear) will have to answer questions about federal marijuana policies under another Democratic administration. Regardless of how the presidential election proceeds, I predict a steady, deliberate approach by our federal government towards putting an end to federal cannabis prohibition.


Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.