While some states are making great strides in marijuana law reform, the federal government is moving along at a glacial pace when it comes to reforms. Congress had made some progress, and there are rumblings of agencies making changes, but little has come from the White House as of yet except for some vague references to criminal justice reform.
Barack Obama will leave office in January of 2017. Whoever takes his place will have major influence on how quickly the federal government adopts major reforms, if it does at all. And no matter what the states do, there is always the specter of federal intervention hanging over them.
A few candidates have expressed a willingness to advance serious reforms while others have remained on the fence. NJ Governor Chris Christie has made his opposition to cannabis legalization well known.
On the Republican side the only hope is Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. There have been rumors of major problems within the Paul campaign, rumors the campaign itself denies. In any case, Senator Paul is a long way from the top of the polls at this juncture.
On the Democrat side Bernie Sanders has ramped up his criticism of the drug war in recent months. Of course he faces the well-financed and well-oiled machine of the Hillary Clinton campaign.
In the end, maybe the best we can hope for is a President who lets the states decide marijuana policy and if the US Congress should happen to pass a bill favorable to the cannabis industry and community, then maybe the next President signs it and moves on without great fanfare.
For now, activists move forward in many states and we do what they can to forestall the rise of a Christie Administration. Stranger things have happened.