NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Cannabis continues to gain political momentum, as Americans debate the drug and its medical and recreational uses. The benefits of medical marijuana are starting to wake citizens up to the idea of legalization, according to Hanan Kolko, member of the Cannabis Practice Group and Labor Department at law firm Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein.
Medical marijuana is used to treat tens of thousands of patients, he said. The drug is used for safe and effective relief of pain, nausea and symptoms in conditions such as epilepsy, cancer and HIV, among others.
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The benefit isn't for those just suffering with a painful and discomforting disease either. Kolko points out that in states where cannabis has been legalized, there is a noticeable decline in opiate-related overdose deaths in that state.
The correlation is too powerful to be coincidence. Not only that, but many citizens feel that marijuana is OK for adult use. Meaning that those over the age of 21 may possess and use a limited amount of the substance, he said.
Right now, Oregon and Alaska are voting for adult use of marijuana, Kolko said, but Washington, D.C., would only be authorized for possession of the substance, not the sale of it.
Florida is also looking to legalize marijuana, but for medical purposes only. In order for the vote to pass, 60% of the voters need to be in favor of it.
At the federal level, Kolko reasoned that the government doesn't likely have plans to legalize marijuana across the country. Currently, there is some pending legislation to pass on more power to individual states to handle marijuana cases.
If tax-paying American citizens think the federal law is wrong, then steps will be taken to pass the jurisdiction down to the states. Currently people are being jailed for possessing a harmless substance, Kolko concluded.
-- Written by Bret Kenwell