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Recently, West Virginia legalized cannabis - marking one of the very first red states to actually change cannabis' legal status from illegal to decriminalized. (More technically, it's now allowed for medical reasons only.)
According to news sources, West Virginia is now the 29th weed-friendly state in the Union, and it will take a full two years before locals will be able to smoke up in peace. Even the most hopeful of pot smokers never saw this coming. After all, West Virginia is a notoriously red state.
That being said, we all have some things we can learn from the legalization of cannabis in West Virginia. Here's what every pothead should think about when they hit the polls.
Weed laws aren't a "Republican Versus Democrat" issue.
West Virginia is notoriously ruby red as a state. In fact, it has a reputation for being the most staunchly Republican state in the union among political analysts. The fact that they legalized cannabis shows that both Republicans and Democrats are aware of the benefits that medical marijuana has.
If the most Republican state in the union just decriminalized its use, then there's really no excuse for any other states not to follow suit within the next couple of years.
Politicians do listen - sometimes.
Though there have definitely been a lot of times where politicians didn't listen to the requests of their citizens, it's becoming clear that many of them are willing to listen on the topic of marijuana.
Moreover, it's a smart move for legislation to work towards making weed legal - even in more conservative states. Legalizing marijuana makes sense as a party platform, since support for the herbal remedy is at an all-time high. (Pun intended!)
Additionally, since it's not as controversial as it used to be, politicians can use this as a way to show that they are still "listening to what constituents say."
Compassion is key - and some politicians still know this.
When Governor Justice had signed the law decriminalizing weed in West Virginia, he delivered an amazing speech. Among other things, he called attention to the need for politicians to have compassion - and to put aside religious beliefs in favor of compassion.
“You’ve got to rise above that and be a public servant. By Michael doing that, and taking that big step, we’re here today. We’re here to show basic compassion. Doctors are telling us this is a pathway to help those people.” - Governor Justice
When it all comes down to it, legalizing marijuana is a matter of compassion. It's a way to keep nonviolent offenders from having their lives ruined, a way for the sick to get better, and a way to help businesses thrive. And, I think we can all get behind that.
Activism and education work.
None of this would be possible if it wasn't for cannabis activists being vocal about the medical benefits that cannabis has to offer. It wouldn't have ever happened if we all stayed silent, if we didn't try to educate people via online groups, or if West Virginians didn't call up political offices asking for this to happen.
If we want change, we have to be the ones who spark it. That's what this legalization is all about, and why the legalization of cannabis in West Virginia was actually successful.
Chances are very high that this is a sign that federal legalization is on its way.
Think about it this way - if it was only liberal states that allowed cannabis legalization, there's a good chance that it'd turn into a partisan issue. However, West Virginia's weed laws show that even the more conservative states are open to national change, and that people are getting wise to the smear campaign cannabis has had throughout the years.
If West Virginia, one of the most conservative and straight-laced states changed its weed laws, who's to say that we won't see the same happen on a national level? The DEA's power can only go so far.
Lastly, anything is possible.
If you were to have told someone 20 years ago that the legalization of cannabis in West Virginia would be successful, you would have been laughed at. Now, it's really happening and it's shocked pundits, potsmokers, and people on all sides. Anything is possible, and you never know what can happen in the future.