According to some – and god, do I hope they’re right – Colorado and Washington are in the process of Pied Piper-ing the country towards marijuana legalization. Some states have come very close already, but either had legalization ballot measures voted down (Oregon, California, Nevada) or preempted by state legislatures (also California). In an article well worth reading, Rolling Stone has it that seven particular states are next in line to face reality and undergo this transformation – Oregon, California, Nevada, Rhode Island, Maine, Alaska, and Vermont, in that order – and they make individual arguments for each. Most have already drastically decriminalized marijuana, and some have allowed medical marijuana. So the incentive to make the short leap to legalization really comes down to two things: money, and a desire to avoid wasting the time and resources of law enforcement (which, I suppose, are really just one thing: money, in the form of new revenue from taxes and in the form of savings from freeing up law enforcement to do, you know, police work).
Regarding Oregon (emphasis mine):
[G]iven that Oregon’s biggest city, Portland, will be just across the Columbia River from prevalent, legal marijuana, the state legislature will be under pressure to create a framework for the drug’s legal use in Oregon – in particular if the revenue provisions of Washington’s law are permitted to kick in and lawmakers begin to watch Washington profit from the “sin taxes” on Oregon potheads.
An update to yesterday’s post “How President Obama has been seriously harshing my mellow.” If you haven’t read that one yet, go read it. It’s a good one.
Apparently, various commentariat entities have been making the same point I made yesterday at the end of my post: which was to point out a gift-wrapped opportunity the GOP could use to appeal to younger voters by supporting the newfound right to get their smoke on in Colorado and Washington. You may notice, these first articles were produced by certain entities that are, uh, shall we say, not on my Christmas card list. But the enemy of my enemy is said to be my friend, and sometimes fighting the good fight for the right of Coloradans and Washingtonians to bake it out in their driveway makes for strange bedfellows.
Isn’t this a rather sweet political opportunity for the GOP? They’re desperate for ways to earn some goodwill with young voters and minorities. Opposing prosecutions for weed is an easy way to do it, and thanks to Washington and Colorado voters, they wouldn’t have to do it on the merits if they so chose. They could do it purely on federalism grounds — i.e. while opinions on marijuana may differ, it’s disgraceful that Congress would trump the considered judgment of a sovereign state on what its citizens should and shouldn’t be allowed to ingest. I doubt you’d lose many anti-marijuana seniors with a principled argument like that and it would change the framework of this debate enough that it might allow for a bolder decriminalization debate later.
High on my list of Obama’s Un-kept Promises is his inconsistency on medical marijuana policy. When he was entering office, there was a perception that Obama was going to respect the laws of states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes – currently numbering seventeen, though less at the time – and that he would essentially stand-down Justice Department prosecution of cases related to the issue. Where did this perception come from? Maybe here:
In a March 2008 interview, Obama told the Oregon Mail Tribune that medical marijuana ranked low on his list of priorities.
“I think the basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors, I think that’s entirely appropriate,” Obama said. “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.”
Obama said this to the Oregon Daily Mail during his first campaign. However, Obama’s own personal penchant for smoking marijuana has been well-documented, so perhaps he just forgot. Because during his first three years in office, Obama’s Justice Department was responsible for over one hundred medical marijuana busts. In his first term, his wrath on dispensaries has exceeded even that of his predecessor, George W. Bush.
And, as we all undoubtedly know, marijuana has been legalized for recreational use under the state laws of Washington and Colorado (a similar measure was defeated in Oregon) – so the sky should be falling down any day now.