The next president could rip up the federal memo that lets Oregon, Washington and other states allow sales of recreational marijuana while the drug remains forbidden under federal law. Most experts doubt a newly elected president would try to shut down pot sales when polls show that a majority of Americans support legalization, The Oregonian reports. Some of the leading Republican presidential candidates, including retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, criticize the Obama administration for allowing states to have recreational marijuana sales and suggest they’ll put legal ganja back in the bottle.
As a result, this could be the most consequential presidential election on pot since 1980. That’s when Ronald Reagan discouraged states from decriminalizing possession while launching a stern “Just Say No to Drugs” approach. “It’s been remarkable to see how much discussion there has been this year,” said Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization group. “It used to be we really had to track the candidates down and beg them to answer our questions.” By far the biggest issue is whether the candidates would follow the Obama administration’s lead in allowing states to set up a legal recreational marijuana market. The states now operate under a 2013 memo from then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole saying they can proceed with regulated sales as long as they work to meet such goals as eliminating illegal diversions and preventing youth access to marijuana.