At least some able-bodied Americans may soon be able to score a bag of weed legally without having to fake a knee injury. In November, voters in three states could approve ballot measures to legalize marijuana, and not just for medical purposes – for getting-high purposes. Then again, they might chicken out, like California voters did in 2010. But sooner or later, and probably sooner, a state will go green.
About half of America will be fine with that. Support for legalization is (no other way to put it) higher than ever, and rising. That’s partly demographics – the young are more into pot than their elders, who aren’t sticking around. But it’s something else, too: The status quo, people are starting to notice, is a total disaster.
The prohibition on marijuana – a relatively benign drug when used responsibly by adults, and a teddy bear compared to alcohol and tobacco – has done an impressive job of racking up racially-biased arrests; throwing people in jail; burning up police time and money; propping up a $30 billion illegal market; and enriching psychotic Mexican drug lords.
But it hasn’t stopped Americans from smoking a ton of weed. We’re up to 20-30 million users, 6 billion joints a year – and rising. And teenagers, who ideally shouldn’t be toking up on a regular basis, say pot is easier to get than beer. “There’s that Talmudic principle that a law that’s not obeyed is a bad law,” says Mark Kleiman, a drug policy expert at UCLA and co-author of the new book Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know. “And I think we’re pretty much at that point.”
So, let’s try another approach, right? Legalization could come in many forms, but all would involve tradeoffs. And no doubt there are all sorts of ways to screw it up. But more power to the first state to give it a shot.
When that happens, expect one of two things – either: the federal government, in deference to democratic principles, will decline to enforce its ban on marijuana, creating space for the state…
Read more: Rolling Stone