What’s going to happen?
In November 2016, voters in at least nine states will decide whether to legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use, according to a running tally by The Cannabist, a project of The Denver Post. Recreational use of the drug is already permitted in a handful of states, and can be prescribed by doctors in over half, though it remains banned under federal law.
Reports on the issue suggest voters are concerned: does marijuana use affect crime rates? A growing body of research addresses the question, tackling arguments used often by opponents and advocates of marijuana liberalization.
As the United States sees regulated medical marijuana models emerge across the country, a glaring paradox has arisen – many states require applicants for producer licenses to have experience in marijuana production, yet exclude those with convictions for producing marijuana.
A Buzzfeed investigation published earlier this year drew attention to six such US states that recently legalised medical marijuana. The restrictions in Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and Minnesota effectively welcome those with backgrounds in criminal activity, specifically in marijuana production, as long as they didn’t get caught and subsequently convicted.
New York’s stipulations for producer applications, for example, hold perhaps the most alarming contradictions: The system used for scoring applicants on the “ability to manufacture approved medical marijuana products” awards a full 36 percent of the total available marks just to product manufacturing. All drug felonies for which sentencing was completed within the last decade, however, are instant disqualifiers. This includes those for selling, and, yes, growing, cannabis.