By now most people who’ll read this blog, already know the history of marijuana’s criminalization. As we move past old racial, cultural, agricultural and financial propaganda taboos, we have the ability to change the public's mind on marijuana. Laws are already changing for the better, well most of them anyway. Today we can access studies done all over the world instantly instead of reading through thick packets of paper to find the results of a biased study, done by a country where the plant/drug/bi-products are all illegal and funded by anti-cannabis interests. Time will be the true test of any real change.
I can understand the anti-cannabis advocates’ adversity to the names of many cannabis strains. Some of the names sound weird like Zimbabwean Snap-neck, Strawberry Cough and Jedi Kush. Some are shocking, such as Dog Shit, Cat Piss, Green Crack, God’s Pussy, etc. Do pro-cannabis advocates sound silly when we use these names? Sure we do, but what difference does it make what we call the strains, as long as we don’t market to children. The legal marijuana industry must avoid the same marketing pitfalls as the alcohol industry. Nearly every alcohol company today uses ads targeted at youth, even though a ton of anti-youth marketing laws have been put into place since the 80’s. The underage drinking problem has grown over the years and plagues an increasingly younger demographic. Why doesn’t alcohol carry the same stigma as herb? Why is alcohol legal, despite all the damage it does
There are worse health, social, and professional issues that stem from alcohol use, yet marijuana carries the burden of a dangerous “gateway drug”. Herb is seen as and something specifically focused toward youth and used irresponsibly. Why is that? The answer is complex, so the debate about legalizing marijuana stays on the table. Meanwhile, the alcohol industry, with it’s deep pockets and political influence, will lobby the government and won’t become an issue… ever. As times change and we learn much more about cannabis and it’s benefits, hopefully science will finally produce realistic and positive statistical studies that will change the current status of marijuana. Herb is still listed by the Government as a Class 1 drug, while opiates stay a lower risk schedule, Class 2.
Some new studies are beginning to pit cannabis against alcohol and opiates and their ill effects. This may actually help to raise marijuana’s status, but will it change the laws? Why haven’t we reclassified opiates as Class 1 drugs? On the average day, over 18 Americans living on the East Coast will overdose on doctor trusted, prescribed opiates. The negative effects and addiction rates stack up so high against the legal government approved prescription drugs, that it takes very little time to realize it’s all about money. No big surprise there.
The legal of status of cannabis varies so greatly from medicinal to recreation and from state to state, that most people don’t actually know what is or isn’t legal in their own state, let alone states they may visit. There are loop holes, issues (good and bad) that need to be addressed within the state’s laws but while all of this happens, cannabis stays on the federal government’s banned substances list. At the very top of that list with methamphetamines, let us not forget. This is all in the right direction from my stand point. The states can make big money from taxation, first and foremost. In addition, this is a great way for states to get the bulk of legislative power back from the federal government. Don’t you think states want more power AND money? Research it and you’ll find marijuana could be one of the first bullets fired in a State vs Federal power struggle.
Taboo or not, cannabis has come to two major key points that will shape the future of it’s legality. Issue one is the federal scheduling of marijuana as a Class 1 substance, meaning there is no medicinal value to the drug. Once it’s status is lowered to a Class 2 or 3, we as a public won’t have to worry half as much about a militarized police force coming into a home and traumatizing a sick person in need of marijuana and their family members who probably have no involvement with the plant being at that location, yet could be charged by the authorities as a criminal simply for being at the residence during the “bust”.
Shockingly enough, local police agencies have been involved in Federal raids, where the local laws protect the public from prosecution, but end up with their “legal operation” seized and destroyed anyway. Involved in the raids and investigations leading up to it, are the local police agencies who are sworn to uphold the local laws. So how do they end up being the ones who kick the doors in? Easy, it’s pressure. Sometimes in the form of a promotion or the ability to rub elbows with a big fish in another agency. The DEA has been accused numerous times of bribing the local agencies with the spoils of the bust or the threat of keeping all the seized funds and assets after the bust. Some local police agencies in the “Oaksterdam” area of Oakland, California have described the DEA’s pressure tactics to come in the form of bullying from one governing branch to another. Reclassifying marijuana’s drug schedule position should make the DEAs interest in marijuana a much lower priority. The Mexican drug cartels would take a major income hit by the USA reclassifying marijuana’s scheduled status because the demand for crappy marijuana from Mexico would be replaced by legal high quality vendors herb here in the USA.
Sooner than later, the politicians in the federal government will have to deal with the future of marijuana’s legal status. As more states flex their political muscle, be it recreational or medicinal, other states are starting to see all the benefits and want a piece of the pie for themselves. Numbers don’t lie; violent crime rates drop, burglaries decline and drunk driving/DUI citations fall in the states that have embraced the marijuana legalization/education/regulation idea. Opponents of legal marijuana use these same numbers to imply that this only means people smoke and drive rather than drink and drive. Truth is, I’d rather them be stoned than drunk driving, talking on a cell phone, or even driving while being too tired. The newest research being done on the effects of marijuana on driving, supports this. Finally, some police agencies are doing research for themselves and finding the same results. Surely this is the foot-hold to marijuana’s legalization right? Probably not, but I think the upcoming Presidential race might just do it. The government does a lot of polling of the public and its’ interests before elections. It let’s the politicians foresee what to talk about when they start campaigning. Both sides of the aisle, Democratic or Republican, have found that one of the major interests on the public’s mind, is the legalization of cannabis! Why? The draw of the State flexing their rights over the Federal government and making big money on top of it.
There is support for marijuana legalization from the Film and Music Industry. Old school celebs like Willy Nelson, who has a strain of cannabis named after him, Morgan Freeman and even Larry King, to current celebs like Woody Harrelson, Snoop Dogg, Seth Rogen, and Jimmy Kimmel, have all come out openly on their herb use. What does this have to do with us “regular stoners” looking for law reform? When we see celebrities using drugs regularly, we can observe that it’s not the substances ruining the stars lives, it’s the human element that can’t be regulated. People can be junkies, recreational users or refrain all together depending on their own personal reaction to that substance. Today we still struggle with the best way to handle hardcore drug addicts, but keeping pot illegal surely isn’t in the solution. WE need more money spent on prevention and rehabilitation. It’s going to take a lot of effort and responsibility for us to move the cannabis counter culture into the mainstream and achieve Federal legalization, but it’s happening. My grandpa once told me, “If the results of your dreams and ambitions can be achieved in your life time, you dreamed too small.” I hope he’s wrong.