Up for a vote, the other “green” economy

José López Zamorano | La Red Hispana 
Photo Credit: Alexander Grey / Pexels

In the final stretch towards the November 8 elections, the theme of the green economy, that is, the creation of millions of sustainable jobs from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), is one of the main rallying cries of the Democrats.

Less visible, but just as important from a social perspective, is the fact that in five states across the country, Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota, recreational marijuana use will be decided on the ballot. This is the other “green” economy that also occupies the attention of voters.

In Maryland, the state where I live, a Washington Post/University of Maryland poll found that 73% of registered voters favor legalizing recreational marijuana. If we consider that in the current political environment there is a wide level of polarization on a wide range of issues including the country’s economic direction, gun violence, immigration reform, climate change, and the state of reproductive rights, this is a significant level of consensus.

As of now, marijuana for recreational purposes is legal in 19 states, the capitol in Washington DC, and the island of Guam. Each of the states defines the rules for the consumption and sale, but in all cases, purchasing requires an official license. All together these marijuana sales generate billions of dollars in taxes.

The issue of marijuana reflects the evolution of social thought in the United States during the last few decades. There is an increasing degree of tolerance for the legalization of this drug, in the same way that tolerance and acceptance of equal rights for people of the same sex have also increased or, conversely, the lessening in popular support for the death penalty.

It is important to keep in mind that marijuana continues to be illegal at the federal level, which has created a virtual space for legal confrontation between the decisions of the states that allow its consumption for medical and/or recreational purposes, with the unshakable position of the federal government.

Immovability of federal laws on the medical or recreational use of marijuana runs counter to the growing inclination of voters to allow its use for recreational purposes. But in the states that will hold their referendum, there are notable variations. In South Dakota, for example, support for recreational marijuana is just 43%. Some of the other states haven’t even bothered to conduct surveys.

It seems appropriate to me that each state in the country defines the course of action that it must follow regarding the medicinal or recreational use of marijuana, because both its supporters and its opponents have the opportunity to present their arguments to the voters so that they take a judicious, well-informed decision in accordance with their own values ​​and beliefs.