Like a growing list of things that have forever changed in America, decriminalized and legalized marijuana is fast becoming the law of the land — all the land.
A stunning 38 states now have laws that one way or another legalize marijuana. More states have in some way legalized marijuana than those that keep it completely illegal.
Just like the national move to end homophobia and ensure civil rights for all Americans, legal weed will prevail because it makes sense.
The compelling reasons Colorado voters approved the use of recreational pot are the same all over the country: People want it. People can get it. People will continue to use it. And all of those things remain true no matter how hard the government tries to change any of it. Despite decades of prohibition, endless propaganda, policing and criminal prosecution by federal, state and local governments, America’s appetite for marijuana has never diminished. It was the same with liquor.
Last week, Biden Administration officials recommended the federal government finally quit equating marijuana with heroin and cocaine as Schedule I drugs.
Even though marijuana should be regulated nationally similar to how alcohol is regulated, even reducing marijuana’s federal classification to a Schedule III drug would be huge, cannabis industry officials say.
The proposal is “paradigm-shifting, and it’s very exciting,” Vince Sliwoski, a Portland, Oregon-based cannabis attorney told the Associated Press.
It would facilitate better and much-needed research on marijuana usage, recreationally and medically. It would also be a step forward in stabilizing the cannabis industry, which is here to stay and expand.
After endless years and endless billions of dollars, the war on marijuana was a colossal failure on all levels. It made criminals out of Americans who never were. It created a huge criminal industry outside and even inside the country, where Mafia-like gangs have murdered and bypassed tax systems in a wide range of places around the world. Criminalizing marijuana has wasted billions of dollars and resources that could have been spent addressing true issues and crime problems.
Don’t confuse this with an endorsement for indulging in marijuana in any of its forms. Like alcohol, the proven benefits are few and the proven consequences are many. But whether it’s drinking beer, doing Jell-O shots, sipping hundred-dollar bottles of wine, vaping hash oil or doing home-grown bong hits, people like getting high, and they’re going to continue to do it.
The marijuana industry, fed most by a growing number of states allowing for the “medical” use of marijuana, produces tens of billions of dollars in product each year.
As Colorado discovered several years ago as a leader in pot legalization, it’s impossible to argue that the vast majority of medical-marijuana users use the drug for medicinal purposes. So Colorado reflected reality and made it legal. Colorado has been a model for why the move to legalization was a good one. We haven’t lost vast tracts of Colorado to become vacant-eyed zombies who can’t hold a job. Reefer madness never happened. It never will.
The biggest crime threat are underground operations shipping marijuana to states still outlawing it as residents demand it.
As a result, virtually, more than half of the country has now set legal weed in motion for anyone who wants it
More than half the country needs to band together to protect these important state changes, but the real push to protect and expand all of this needs to come from Congress.
We can appreciate states being able to decide the issues of legality and access themselves, similarly to how the states regulate alcoholic beverages. But it’s time now for Congress to assert federal legislation to protect the rights of these states, and there’s likely a majority of legislators open to discuss it.
Federal lawmakers need to address issues of banking, security, drug testing, interstate commerce and more to accommodate marijuana’s reality.