Laws change, but medical marijuana remains a PR battle

Laws change, but medical marijuana remains a PR battle

Medical marijuana laws are changing, state by state. The slow drip feels inevitable, but it also seems to be growing ever closer to nationwide legalization, as public pressure continues to build and once closed minds continue to change.

The latest state to legalize medical marijuana is Ohio, which has a law about to go into effect even though the state itself has no idea yet how to implement the law. So, while it’s “legal” the questions of “how” legal and “what” that actually means is still being hashed out. As regulations to that effect are expected to take at least a year to craft, much less pass, doctors and patients are being left in the lurch. And that has many Ohioans who were lauding victory last week already fighting mad.

Overall, the program is not expected to be working fully until sometime in 2018. Still, though implementation might be slow, it is happening, unlike several other states that recently voted down medical marijuana measures.

While the battle continues to be waged in the courts and at ballot boxes, there’s absolutely no doubt public relations also plays a big role in the outcomes. Ohio is the 25th state, exactly halfway toward national legalization, counting state by state. But as past experience has taught us, these “social” issues are often decided by national fiat once a tipping point has been reached.

That tipping point will come at the time when too many people support the measure nationwide for the few who may hold sway in state legislatures to keep back the rising tide. This has happened with virtually every state prohibition that, nationally, just didn’t have enough support anymore.

Ideas change over time, and the internet is changing those ideas at a faster pace than ever before. Sweeping social change is happening on issue after issue, and this one seems to be poised to be the next domino to fall. That’s not to say “legal” will mean available. As with alcohol, local governments can take steps to limit sales of even legal products in order to bend to the prevailing desires of that town or county’s populace. Even on that level, perhaps especially on that level, PR plays the deciding role.

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