As someone who does not use marijuana (I’ve tried it, I seriously don’t like it, stopped playing with it years ago, it makes me depressed and paranoid) I was thrilled recently when multiple states injected sanity into their marijuana laws, some at least legalizing it for medicinal use and some legalizing recreational use outright. There were celebrations as this new law went into effect at midnight today in Washington state.
There is reason for some pessimism over this; in the past, going back as far as the 1970s, the Federal government has exerted enormous pressure on states that decriminalized minor amounts of pot possession. But I think there’s something in the wind: I suspect the Feds will not this time attempt a massive crackdown on states that decriminalize. The tide appears to have turned, and most sensible people, including a large number of self-described “conservatives” and Republicans, nowadays concede, at least in private, that energy on marijuana interdiction is mostly wasted. Although President Obama is quite a hypocrite, having publicly admitted to smoking pot and “maybe some blow” (i.e. cocaine) but continuing to run a Drug Warrior administration, perhaps in his second term he will feel less political pressure to continue being a Drug Warrior, since the tide is turning in multiple states and he has no need to fear losing an election over this issue now.
Let’s hope that’s what the administration does anyway. Having known any number of potheads, I’ve found some to be rather stupid airheaded people who aren’t very productive citizens, while others are extremely functional and get along in the world just great, including even successful managers and corporate officers at some fairly profitable companies who hide their pot use only to avoid getting in trouble, even while hypocritically supporting drug testing rules for floor-level workers. That’s a trend not likely to change immediately either. But in any case, having known any number of alcoholics (and being a recovering alcoholic myself) it’s long been obvious to me which drug causes people to be the most physically and psychologically destructive and to destroy the most lives, and it isn’t pot.
The energy and money and lives wasted in our futile war against pot is a national disgrace. Indeed the entire War On Drugs is a fiasco and a farce, and I say that as someone who has family in law enforcement dedicated to fighting drug trafficking. The real solution to the drug problem is strict regulation and treatment programs for people who commit criminal offenses while using drugs, any drugs including alcohol. It’s cheaper, it’s more effective, and would result in a much lower number of men in prison. (The War On Drugs is mostly a War On Poor Men, as it happens, as well over 90% of our prison population is male despite there being no evidence that men are more likely to be criminals than women are; women just get a discount in arrest, prosecution, and sentencing as part of the Female Privilege that is so pervasive in our society.)
Here’s hoping the 2nd Obama administration takes a brave stand. They don’t have to come out in favor of pot legalization, but they can announce that Federal resources will no longer be wasted on harassing marijuana producers and users, and embrace the States’ Rights position on this state: if it’s legal in California, or Washington, or Michigan, or Colorado, or wherever, it should be none of the Federal government’s business. That would be an easy position for the Obama administration to take. Here’s hoping they will.