By Gillian Tett for FT Magazine. Last week, as the glorious autumn foliage blazed out across America’s Midwest, I travelled to Kansas City for an economics seminar. I found a place throbbing with joy: the Kansas City Royals, the local baseball team, had just won the World Series, against steep odds. It was also a city full of political debate, largely about Donald Trump and the other Republican candidates.
But there was another, more unexpected topic of conversation: marijuana. A campaign has recently been launched in Missouri to legalise the drug for medical purposes; indeed, some lobbyists are pushing to introduce bills next year to permit recreational use as well. There is no guarantee these endeavours will pass; a similar campaign was recently quashed in Ohio. But two dozen states in the US have already legalised marijuana for medical use — and almost half a dozen have now made it legal for recreational use too.
If recent opinion polls are any guide, Missouri may soon join that trend. Last month the St Louis Business Journal found in an informal online poll that 85 per cent of local residents wanted to legalise medical marijuana. An earlier poll in April by KTVI, a local television station, reported that 70 per cent of respondents wanted full legalisation. Meanwhile, a separate survey by the Kansas City Star earlier this year suggested some 94 per cent of local residents want full legalisation, for both medical and recreational use.