Imagine: A world with legal cannabis

The presidential election this Tuesday, November 8th, will likely mark a major inflection point in the fight to legalize cannabis as it strengthens the challenge to the federal government’s ban on the plant. The map of where cannabis could be legalized would include the entire West Coast and would reach from the Pacific Ocean to Colorado. After the smoke clears from one of the most intense presidential election cycles in recent history, our focus will likely shift back to the fastest growing industry in the United States.According to the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Reports, of the 1,488,707 arrests for drug law violations in 2015, the majority (43.2%) were cannabis related – a total of 643,121. This translates to a cannabis-related arrest every 49 seconds. While the US is home to 4.4% of the world’s people, it is also home to 22% of the world’s prisoners. Of the 8.2 million cannabis arrests between 2001 and 2010, 88% were for simple possession. Nationwide, the arrest data revealed one consistent trend: significant racial bias. Despite roughly equal usage rates, African-Americans are 3.73 times more likely than Caucasians to be arrested for a plant that has been used by humans for ~10,000 years.We have the opportunity, and therefore the obligation, to support the tireless efforts of organizations and individuals who have been fighting for a future where not a single person is punished for using a plant to enhance their lives. We have the power to help those who are being legally oppressed and to help those who have little or no access to this powerful medicine.There are currently 26 states with cannabis legalization. There are no states with a measure to remove this legislation. A recent Mazakali Green Paper, Proposition 64: The Adult Use Marijuana Act highlights and summarizes the particulars of legalization in California.This is our single biggest opportunity to help those who have been punished, those who are being punished, and those who will continue to be punished for what is an issue of medical need, social justice, civil rights, racial equality and personal choice.