Marijuana’s March Toward Mainstream Confounds Feds

Jul 3, 2013

It took 50 years for Amer­i­can atti­tudes about mar­i­juana to zigzag from the para­noia of “Reefer Mad­ness” to the excesses of Wood­stock back to the hard line of “Just Say No.” The next 25 years took the nation from Bill Clin­ton, who famously “didn’t inhale,” to Barack Obama, who most emphat­i­cally did. And now, in just a few short years, pub­lic opin­ion has moved so dra­mat­i­cally toward gen­eral accep­tance that even those who cham­pion legal­iza­tion are sur­prised at how quickly atti­tudes are chang­ing and states are mov­ing to approve the drug – for med­ical use and just for fun. It is a moment in Amer­ica that is rife with con­tra­dic­tions: Peo­ple are look­ing more kindly on mar­i­juana even as sci­ence reveals more about the drug’s poten­tial dan­gers, par­tic­u­larly for young peo­ple. States are giv­ing the green light to the drug in direct defi­ance of a fed­eral pro­hi­bi­tion on its use. Explo­ration of the poten­tial med­ical ben­e­fit is lim­ited by high fed­eral hur­dles to research. Wash­ing­ton pol­i­cy­mak­ers seem reluc­tant to deal with any of it. Richard Bon­nie, a Uni­ver­sity of Vir­ginia law pro­fes­sor who worked for a national com­mis­sion that rec­om­mended decrim­i­nal­iz­ing mar­i­juana in 1972, sees the pub­lic tak­ing a big leap from pro­hi­bi­tion to a more laissez-faire approach with­out full delib­er­a­tion. “It’s a remark­able story his­tor­i­cally,” he said.  “But as a mat­ter of pub­lic pol­icy, it’s a lit­tle wor­ri­some.  It’s intrigu­ing, it’s inter­est­ing, it’s good that lib­er­al­iza­tion is occur­ring, but it is a lit­tle wor­ri­some.” More than a lit­tle wor­ri­some to those in the anti-drug move­ment. “We’re on this hundred-mile-an-hour freight train to legal­iz­ing a third addic­tive sub­stance,” said Kevin Sabet, a for­mer drug pol­icy adviser in the Obama admin­is­tra­tion, lump­ing mar­i­juana with tobacco and alco­hol. Legal­iza­tion strate­gist Ethan Nadel­mann, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Drug Pol­icy Alliance, likes the direc­tion the mar­i­juana smoke is waft­ing.  But he knows his side has con­sid­er­able work yet to do. “I’m con­stantly remind­ing my allies that mar­i­juana is not going to legal­ize itself,” he said. Eigh­teen states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia have legal­ized the use of mar­i­juana for med­ical pur­poses since Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers made the first move in 1996.  Vot­ers in Col­orado and Wash­ing­ton state took the next step last year and approved pot for recre­ational use.  Alaska is likely to vote on the same ques­tion in 2014, and a few other states are expected to put recre­ational use on the bal­lot in 2016. Nearly half of adults have tried mar­i­juana, 12 per­cent of them in the past year, accord­ing to a sur­vey by the Pew Research Cen­ter.  More teenagers now say t hey smoke mar­i­juana than ordi­nary cig­a­rettes. Fifty-two per­cent of adults favor legal­iz­ing mar­i­juana, up 11 per­cent­age points just since 2010, accord­ing to Pew.  Sixty per­cent think Wash­ing­ton shouldn’t enforce fed­eral laws against mar­i­juana in states that have approved its use.  Seventy-two per­cent think gov­ern­ment efforts to enforce mar­i­juana laws cost more than they’re worth. “By Elec­tion Day 2016, we expect to see at least seven states where mar­i­juana is legal and being reg­u­lated like alco­hol,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Mar­i­juana Pol­icy Project, a national legal­iza­tion group. Where Cal­i­for­nia led the charge on med­ical mar­i­juana, the next chap­ter in this story is being writ­ten in Col­orado and Wash­ing­ton state. Pol­i­cy­mak­ers there are strug­gling with all sorts of sticky issues revolv­ing around one cen­tral ques­tion: How do you legally reg­u­late the pro­duc­tion, dis­tri­b­u­tion, sale and use of mar­i­juana for recre­ational pur­poses when fed­eral law bans all of the above? How do you tax it? What qual­ity con­trol stan­dards do you set? How do you pro­tect chil­dren while giv­ing grownups the go-ahead to light up? What about dri­ving under the influ­ence? Can grow­ers take busi­ness tax deduc­tions? Who can grow pot, and how much? Where can you use it? Can cities opt out? Can work­ers be fired for smok­ing mar­i­juana when they’re off duty? What about tak­ing pot out of state? The list goes on. The Jus­tice Depart­ment began review­ing the mat­ter after last November’s elec­tion and repeat­edly has promised to respond soon.  But seven months later, states still are on their own, left to parse every pass­ing com­ment from the depart­ment and Pres­i­dent Obama. In Decem­ber, Obama said in an inter­view that “it does not make sense, from a pri­or­i­ti­za­tion point of view, for us to focus on recre­ational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that’s legal.” Source: Repub­li­can & Her­ald (PA) Copy­right: 2013 Asso­ci­ated Press Con­tact: yourviews@​republicanherald.​com Web­site: http://​repub​li​can​her​ald​.com Author: Ali­cia A. Cald­well and Nancy Benac, Asso­ci­ated Press

fd22fc5c9bna dea.jpg 150x99 Marijuana’s March Toward Mainstream Confounds Feds

More here:
Marijuana’s March Toward Main­stream Con­founds Feds

Related Posts

Share This

Leave a Comment