The recent spate of hirings by President-elect Donald Trump for his incoming administration includes some notable opponents of cannabis legalization. Chief among them is prospective Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who once went so far to say that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” Despite what we may see on the surface, however, there are reasons to believe that cannabis legalization in the states is not going anywhere.
1. Public opinion
Much like the issue of gay marriage, the issue of cannabis legalization has seen a dramatic increase in popularity among Americans over the past generation.
The health benefits of cannabis have been particularly salient in the change in public opinion: The medical properties of cannabis have been cited by 41 percent of those who changed their minds on the issue.
2. Medical benefits
The medical issue in its relation to cannabis is not just theoretical: It has real implications for many people who depend on it for treatment.
As of Election Day 2016, twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have instituted medical cannabis programs; sixteen more states allow only for the legal use of cannabidiol (CBD).
The tens of millions of people who now qualify for medical cannabis may use the substance to treat a number of serious conditions, among the most popular including HIV/AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy.
It remains to be seen whether the forthcoming Trump administration will be willing to arbitrarily strip medical patients of their treatment.
However, when such an action would conjure a backlash of sick children, the medical and public relations disasters that would ensue should lead observers to doubt that it would ever happen.
3. Cannabis: Cash Cow
If there is one thing that resonates with Donald Trump, it’s money. And the burgeoning medical and recreational cannabis programs across the country are starting to show just how valuable they are.
Estimates vary wildly as to the current and future value of cannabis programs. Yet there appears to be some consensus that the number is at least in the tens of billions.
One report, released by the New York City-based Greenwave Advisors, found that the legal cannabis industry could be as valuable as $35 billion by 2020 – which would make it over 3 times as valuable as the NFL.
And that is just on a nationwide scale. Individual states also stand to gain hundreds of millions, if not billions, from the sale of medical and recreational cannabis: The California cannabis program alone is expected to be worth $6 billion in 4 years.
So for those despairing over the course that federal cannabis policy could take in the next four years, do not worry just yet. Things may be a lot better than they actually appear.