The Worldwide Influence of American States’ Marijuana Legalization

The momentum is behind marijuana legalization in America, with majority public support countrywide, legalization approved in eight states and Washington, DC, and legalization expected soon in more jurisdictions via both ballot measures and legislature votes. Backing this momentum is people’s recognition that the sky has not fallen either where legalization has been implemented or in the many additional places where state and local governments have adopted lesser measures of medical marijuana legalization and marijuana decriminalization.

State and local governments opting out of aspects of the war on marijuana also can have an influence beyond the borders of the United States, as exemplified Wednesday in comments by Conservative Party Parliament Member Crispin Blunt in the British House of Commons.

During Prime Minister’s Questions, where Prime Minister Theresa May is subjected to questions from Parliament members, Blunt offered a critique of the war on drugs, referencing the legalization of marijuana in parts of America in support. Blunt said he wished to draw May’s attention to the fact that “global policy” in regard to drug prohibition “is beginning to change” and asked May if, “in the face of the evidential failure of the policy since the 1961 UN [Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs],” May would “look at the evidence that is going to emerge from the United States and Canada on the legalization and regulation of cannabis markets there as well as decriminalization in Portugal and elsewhere.”

May, who is a member of the same political party as Blunt, indicated she has no interest in budging from her prohibition support. “I take a different view,” concluded May in her response to Blunt, “I think that it’s right that we continue to fight the war against drugs.”

May, or her successor, may not be able to long rebuff the desire for change suggested by Blunt. As people in Britain see over time more and more people benefiting from governments abroad affording greater respect for freedom in regard to marijuana, and hopefully increasingly other drugs as well, the momentum for similar change in Britain may reach a level where politicians like May either acquiesce or are swept aside.

President George Washington said in his farewell address, known for its advocacy of a noninterventionist foreign policy, “the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete, by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection—and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.” Blunt’s comments Wednesday in the British Parliament is one small example of the positive influence Washington suggested.

The withdrawal of state and local governments in whole or in part from participation in the war on marijuana is showing the benefits states’ rights can yield for liberty and how the expansion of respect for people’s rights by several American “laboratory of democracy” can become an influence for other states and even other nations to expand respect for individual rights. Isn’t this a better way of advancing freedom abroad than methods such as military intervention, election interference, coup support, and sanctions that the US government has pursued purportedly for that purpose?

Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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