US Elections: One Candidate Wants To End the War On Drugs
The upcoming US presidential elections has a lot of the cannabis community pondering the future of cannabis legalisation. Irrespective of international opinion on the US, they have an enormous influence on global drug policy and are arguably the spearhead of the War on Drugs. Should they decide to stop, so will most of the world. One presidential candidate hopes to achieve this, stating he wants to end the global crusade against the drug user.
THE USA, AN IMPORTANT PIECE OF THE PUZZLE
When it comes to global drugs policy, the US is important for two reasons. The first, as touched upon, is that they are the chief benefactor of the War on Drugs. The majority of funding and strategy in joint country operations, and political rhetoric, comes from the US. If they decide to pack it in and stop fighting the drug war, then much of the political and economic support for it will die down.
This brings us to the second point. For drugs like cannabis to be legalised on a global scale, a world power needs to take the plunge and set an example. This is a position the US is currently teetering upon, they just need a forward thinking president to take hold and pull them over the edge. If the US can successfully legalise weed, then a lot of other countries are likely to consider it too. A great example is the UK, who are probably one of the US’s strongest allies here in the EU, and a global power in themselves - maintaining one of the few permanent seats on the UN council. The US could, and will, hopefully, trigger a snowball effect.
BERNIE SANDERS AND ENDING THE WAR ON DRUGS
Bernie Sanders is currently the best bet the world currently has to end the War on Drugs. This Democrat presidential nominee is now leading the Liberal side of the US presidential race and has actively called for an end to the War on Drugs. In fact, it is one of the focuses of his campaign and is being received exceedingly well by a public who is by and large, becoming disillusioned with the current model of prohibition.
"Millions of lives have been destroyed because people are in jail for nonviolent crimes. For decades, we have been engaged in a failed ‘War on Drugs’ with racially-biased mandatory minimums that punish people of colour unfairly. It is an obscenity that we stigmatize so many young Americans with a criminal record for smoking marijuana, but not one major Wall Street executive has been prosecuted for causing the near collapse of our entire economy."
Could he be the key to a better future, or is he likely to go back on his words, like so many other before him have. Only time will tell.
But what if Bernie Sanders doesn’t win the Democrat nomination? And what if, should he win, he still loses the election to the Republicans?
LOOKING AT THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE: WILL A REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT GO EASY ON DRUGS?
This is a bit more complicated. While no Republican nominee has come forward stating that the War on Drugs is something that needs to be ended. There are a few with mixed views on cannabis and drug prohibition. The one most in tune with Bernie Sanders’ views is Rand Paul, a Republican senator that strongly believes in the power of marijuana. In fact, he is so on board, that he was the co-sponsor of the recent CARERS Act that hoped to revolutionise the use of medical marijuana on a federal level. He also supports the decriminalisation of cannabis for personal use, stating that the current model is “ridiculous.”
This is as about as good as it gets with the Republicans, with none really outwardly supporting full legalisation. However, Rand Paul is forward thinking, and under his watch, things would certainly move forward. It is just a shame that he is not the Republican front-runner.
The man who currently looks like he is going to take lead of the Republican presidential bid is Donald Trump, the comical-looking businessman who has a reputation for making wild and outlandish comments live on air. When it comes to Trump and drugs, the road gets a bit rockier. Back in the 90’s Trump famously said that all drugs should be decriminalised:
“We’re losing the war on drugs badly. You have to legalize drugs to win that war. You have to take the profit away from these drug czars. […] What I’d like to do maybe by bringing it up is cause enough controversy that you get into a dialogue on the issue of drugs and you start to realize that this is the only answer; there is no other answer.”
However, his views have since changed since entering the political field, now saying he doesn’t support federal legalisation – this doesn’t bode well for his integrity.
Saying this, it is not all doom and gloom. Trump says he supports the use of medical marijuana “100%” and respects each state’s right to vote on legalisation.
So all in all, things are looking pretty good on the American front. At best, we could be seeing the end of the War on Drugs, while at worst, we could see a President who is happy to at least allow individual states to continue dictating their own marijuana policy. It is rather funny, that the very people who started the War on Drugs could be the ones to lead the fight for cannabis legalisation, and the end of the War as a whole. In fact, the effects are already being seen. Public opinion across the globe is rapidly shifting, with the majority of EU citizens now supporting the use of cannabis. There are even countries mulling over legalisation. The future is exciting and full of green potential. Let’s just hope things continue to move forward, and that, putting cynicisms aside, the US has what it takes to make a change for the better.